Energy crisis lifeline: £31m Welsh tidal project could make UK ‘world-leader’ in exports

Johnson discusses energy strategy at Hinkley Point power plant

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Regarded as one of the world’s greatest untapped resources, construction work has begun on a major £31 million project in Wales to harness tidal power. The Morlais project, which previously received EU funding, will install turbines at what is expected to be one of the world’s largest tidal stream energy sites, covering 13 square miles of the seabed. The project is located on the small island off the west of Anglesey and is designed to provide renewable energy to more than 180,000 homes once fully operational.

Gerallt Llewelyn Jones, a director of Morlais Energy, said: “We have strong tidal resources around Wales and they have huge potential.”

He also described tidal energy as being far more predictable than solar and wind power, wind energy being something the UK has tremendous potential in.

In a 2017 Government review, former energy minister Charles Hendry noted that tidal power could play a cost effective role in the country’s energy mix, providing it with energy security while also helping the push to net zero emissions.

He said: “Tidal lagoons can be an important and exciting new industry.

“We are blessed with some of the best resources in the world, which puts us in a unique position to be world leaders.”

The Morlais project is currently being built in phases to study the impact it will have on marine environments.

While this tidal plant will use turbines to harness kinetic energy from tidal currents, more larger-scale projects would involve building lagoons with huge sea walls, which would incorporate turbines that are powered by the rise and fall of tides.

Speaking to, Professor Karl Williams, the Director of the Centre for Waste Management at the University of Central Lancashire, previously noted that the UK has an “enviable position” and can generate “large amounts of limitless energy”.

He said: “Lagoons have been hailed as being able to supply at least 10 percent of the UK energy requirement.

“With those claims, it would not need too many projects to make a significant contribution to our electricity requirements and help to move us away from fossil fuel.

“The UK has had a number of sites that have been investigated over the years, including the Dee Estuary, Morecambe Bay and the Solway Firth, the Severn and Mersey.

“The amount of power these sites could generate could allow the UK to be a net exporter of power.

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“There is a potential that these sites could meet a significant amount of the UK’s energy need.”

Simon Hamlyn, chief executive of the British Hydropower Association (BHA), said in the Government’s latest energy security strategy, the UK had missed out on a “massive opportunity” by failing to include tidal lagoons into the proposed mix.

He said: “It’s an incomprehensible omission.

“I simply cannot understand why the Government continues to dismiss hydropower and tidal range – both of which are world-beating technologies and which could power the UK into the future.”

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