Managing the Energy Mix – Michael Baker

Published on April 27, 2017 in 2017 Forum Reports, Energy, Presentation

Sustainable Severn Forum 2017In the second of the talks in the session Energy opportunity for the estuary, Michael Baker a planner with Arup spoke about Arup’s perspective on the opportunity that the UK has to develop a specific marine energy technology, tidal range or tidal lagoons, and about how the Severn Estuary could fit within that wider context.


Notes to accompany the slide presentation

An industry beyond the Severn?
As we know The Severn and Bristol Channel has some of the most significant tidal range resources in the UK and some of the largest proposed projects globally to date have been proposed here. But there is also significant tidal range resource potential beyond the Severn, including Solway, Morecambe Bay, Mersey, North Wales, even Humber and South Coast.
So we cannot just assume that the Severn will inherit this opportunity.
One of the interesting questions to answer is what would a UK or even global tidal industry mean for the Severn area? What opportunities exist and how can they be exploited?

So how large is the potential for tidal range

  • There are many many 10s of GWs or projects which have been proposed in UK waters. However, not all of these can co-exist, due to interaction of env impacts, commercial viability, site feasibilities, both alone and with other projects
  • Arup has a conservative estimate which suggests that tidal range could provide up to 15 GW of installed capacity by 2050, which equates to about 10% of the total UK electricity demand
  • 10% is actually relatively small in comparison with other technologies. For example, UK offshore wind could potentially supply the UK demand a number of times over.
  • Why tidal range?
    So why is that 10% important? Our press and politicians often like to simplify and polarize the energy debate. Renew vs non renew, Nuclear vs. coal, wind vs. tidal – this causes infighting in our industries and inhibits solutions.
  • To achieve low cost, secure, sustainable energy supplies we need a mix of sources
  • Tidal range has many benefits that makes it work well as part of a diverse mix
  • Purely in energy: it would reduce our reliance on fuel imports
    And can provide renewable energy production which is predictable and reliable
  • The conversation also needs to consider the other benefits:
    Flood risk protection, use of the impoundment, transport, combination of these and potential for regeneration

So there is a strong case why tidal range is a sound and holistic solution to energy challenge.

What are the potential economic benefits?
This being case, what is the overall economic impact of that 10%?

  • Estimates suggest job creation of 200,000 FTE direct and indirect person years for construction and operation IF we decided to install tidal lagoons to deliver 10% of electricity generation
  • Average of 5,300 FTE person years in direct and indirect jobs for construction
  • A legacy of 5,000 FTE person years in direct and indirect jobs operation
  • Those job numbers are UK wide, serving a UK industry

Which is modest compared to other parts of the energy industry, but could be very significant in the context of the project locations

What would that mean for the Severn Estuary?

  • What are the employment opportunities for the Severn – are they just supporting their local projects with a transient workforce?
  • Need to be realistic about the opportunity. The technology used to create a tidal lagoon comes from an existing, mature, global supply chain. This includes hydro turbine industry, marine contractors who build seawalls;
  • These companies all exist elsewhere and are unlikely to move wholesale.
  • But there are job opportunities for the people of the Severn Estuary — in assembly, operations, and other high skilled technical jobs.
  • So, the Severn could become a hub of technical capability that supports the industry, and which can be exported
  • There are some great case studies – Orkney for marine renewables, Hull for offshore wind, Nuclear in the South West – e.g. Nuclear South West, Somerset Innovation Centre (Bridgwater College)
  • Its about being pragmatic and realistic about what areas should be pursued – prioritise the benefits we can gain from projects in the UK and beyond.

Michael Baker attended the conference attending for Clare Lovell who was originally speaking.