Friday, 27 March 2015

The future of tidal power... in Sidmouth

Last week, this blog featured the latest in tidal technology:
Futures Forum: The future of tidal power

Here is a very interesting suggestion posted to the Vision Group's website - and which appeared in today's Herald:

There is a good solution to the problem of Sidmouth’s crumbling East cliffs.  Build a tidal lagoon for power generation, make Sidmouth self-sufficient in electricity.  If Swansea can do it, so could Sidmouth.  As well as protecting the cliffs, it would provide bathing water of far better quality than the often-muddy water off the Esplanade.  There could be a lovely walkway round its walls too.  Sidmouth’s answer to The Cobb at Lyme, perhaps.

Tidal power, of which the UK has much, should be a big part of moving away from fossil fuels.  The technology is now there, and we need the will to do it.

Chris and Jill Burke
Salcombe Hill Road, Sidmouth

Breaking news & sport in Sidmouth | Sidmouth Herald

The sea is certainly powerful along this coast:

Futures Forum: Tidal Reef at Port Royal
Futures Forum: The power of the sea - its tides and its waves

In fact, almost six years ago, Jo Frith from the Vision Group (and also of the Beach Management Plan) had promoted the feasibility of a tidal reef for Sidmouth:

Sidmouth reef scheme finds favour

10:57 20 July 2009

THERE seem to be more people in favour than against the concept of a Tidal Reef scheme for Sidmouth.

In response to the revolutionary tidal power scheme, which would also protect Pennington Point, that was revealed in the Sidmouth Herald on July 3, Aaron Palmer, on work experience with the paper from Sidmouth College, spent Friday morning talking to residents and tourists on the Esplanade to get their views.

These are his findings:

Harry Scott, a visitor to Sidmouth, said other reefs that he had seen had worked successfully and that this proposal was a good one.

"I would only agree on the idea if local people were involved in making the decisions," said Mrs Palmer, a resident of Sidmouth.

Jo Frith, a member of the Vision Group for Sidmouth, is championing the concept, which was developed by Evans Engineering.

The reef would have minimal visual impact as it would be located off the coast and could produce electricity by wave power. It could also protect the town from potential flooding.

Salcombe cliffs, which remain a big part of Sidmouth's history, "need to be protected", said Mrs Alexander, 43, who is a regular visitor to Sidmouth.

Mrs Hadland thought it was a good ecological proposal if it preserved people's homes and produced electricity.

Catherine Osbourne said it would be "another side" to Sidmouth and offer a different aspect, while visitor Basil Nunn said: "Something needs to be done."

Some residents however, are against the proposal of the reef because although Pennington Point may be protected from erosion, other parts of the Jurassic Coast may be affected by the project.

"Views will be disturbed" said a passing visitor near Jacob's Ladder, and a long-standing resident of Sidmouth added: "Nature will always win."

Mrs Preston from Sidmouth agreed and thought it best not to disrupt nature and worsen any cliff erosion.

While Peter Hook, who runs the seafront's Royal York and Falkner Hotel, thought the project was "pie in the sky".

Sidmouth reef scheme finds favour - News - Sidmouth Herald

This is Jo Frith's recent take on the project:

I suggested exactly this several years ago at an AGM of the Vision Group for Sidmouth. I proposed going in partnership with an engineer from Cornwall who has designed large slow moving turbos rotating on vertical axes. These were developed initially for a Severn hydro solution. They are approved of by Natural England since they don’t kill fish. They work on as little as 2m head of water and are bi-directional. 

I applied for funding from the Environment Agency for a pathfinder project to do the feasibility study. 

I couldn’t persuade either the DCC or the EDDC responsible officers or Councillors to read my proposal. For that reason the EA could not give the Pathfinder money. However they told me that it was the most interesting of all the applications from around the country.

It would have brought jobs and visitors flocking to Sidmouth.

I understand that one is now to be built on the Dee and the Swansea solution is also similar, although I am not sure that they will use the slow turbines.

And here's the idea at the time:

Evans Tidal Power Reef
The environment friendly alternative to the Severn Barrage
The REEF Tidal Power Group
Evans Engineering & Power Company

Latest News
The REEF tidal power concept endorsed by a new Atkins-Rolls Royce report commissioned by DECC (Department of Energy and Climate Change)
After controversy over the previous government awarding a study into the REEF concept to consultants Atkins and aero-engine makers Rolls Royce, the originators of the concept, Evans Engineering, are delighted to now have independent confirmation that the REEF concept is both valid from a hydraulic perspective as well as being on track to become the most environmentally friendly solution for capturing tidal energy in sensitive areas. The report recently published by DECC prior to the spending review goes on to say that a REEF type system could capture up to 50% more energy than the now dismissed barrage.
Much has been written about the demise of the Cardiff-Weston Severn Barrage, the environmentally damaging proposal that the REEF was designed to replace, but it has not been generally understood that the REEF project is very much alive and well. Fresh enthusiasm and the prospect of major private finance is pushing this proposal towards being the largest 'green energy project' in Europe and what could be described as the largest 'Machine on Earth' (probably the only machine that could be seen with the naked eye from space)

Severn Tidal Reef design by Evans Engineering
© Evans Engineering, 2008

Green World Trust - Tidal Power
Severn Barrage should be scrapped in favour of tidal reef - RSPB - Telegraph
Futures Forum: Tidal reef in Swansea Bay

Others are asking why we aren't making more use of this natural resource:
Futures Forum: "Why isn't the renewable energy sector delivering what we need to keep the lights on and make us more sustainable?"


Armstrong Evans said...

The 'Tidal Power REEF' is still alive and well. From my experience it takes about 15 or 20 years for a new idea to catch on! I cane up with the REEF concept because it had to be environmentally benign or it would be a 'non-starter' in my book. Having had 'an unfortunate encounter' with a certain Ed Miliband (Minister of Energy at the time) who gave the funding to 'the big guys' who copied much of the REEF project, then sold out to overseas intrests! Anyway, despite great interest in the Swansea Lagoon Project, those who are looking at tidal energy in detail, realise that Lagoons require much more 'quarried rock' than a REEF project. As for coastal protection at Sidmouth, there are ways that a wave power systems might be able to produce power and protect the coast. I think one major problem is that the rocks are very soft (which causes the erosion problem) so it is also rather unstable for anchoring wave energy devices. It is certainly worth looking at in more detail.

Jeremy Woodward said...

Thanks very much for the comment.
A specific proposal has been put together:
This is very much on your lines of a REEF.
Thanks again.