8 Jul 2008

Another alternative to the Severn Barrage

I am still very concerned that alternatives to the barrage are not being fully considered (see Green party response here and some of previous blog entries here). As noted it was good that the District Council have taken this on board for their formal response to consultations.

Photo: River Severn

One low cost alternative to the Barrage has been developed by a research and development company Aqua Scientific - they have received £250,000 worth of grants from the Government, and various technical innovation awards, including the prestigious Royal Society - and are due to trial their third prototype in the Exe Estuary by the end of the year.

Most tidal devices are designed for deep open water, and there are very few people developing shallow water estuary devices. All existing ideas for shallow water devices use inefficient collection devices and expensive permanent infrastructure that cannot allow for changes to flow path and the general changing nature of Estuaries. This device seems to address both of these points entirely.

The prototypes are currently being researched and developed by the fluid dynamics and marine engineering department at Exeter University. They have worked very closely with Marine Biologists and a Natural England consultant from the start to make sure the proposals are as environmentally sound as possible. Clearly it must be very difficult for them to compete with the Severn Tidal Group PR machine. More worryingly is the rumour that the Barrage was 100% certain. I don't believe it is and all the evidence so far indicates it would be a mistake.

While Aqua Scientific is still young, if you set this against the 13 year deployment timeline set out by the Severn Barrage then they and many other in the marine turbine industry are sure that a viable alternative will be developed well within this time. Indeed Tidal Lagoons already offer a promising way forward as noted previously on this blog. And let us not forget the technology and impacts of a Severn Barrage are still poorly understood....anyhow time for a cup of tea for me I have been looking at this computer too much today...

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