Alok Sharma: North sea gas extraction won't solve energy crisis
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As the world reels from an energy crisis with skyrocketing prices for gas and electricity, countries are looking for alternatives to boost their energy security. The UK is considering ending the ban on fracking and relaxing laws around permitting new oil and gas drilling in the North Sea. However, an expert argues that tidal lagoon energy could turn the UK into a major energy player.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Professor Karl Williams, the Director of the Centre for Waste Management at the University of Central Lancashire, 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.
“There is a potential that these sites could meet a significant amount of the UK’s energy need.”
So far, there are no tidal lagoon plants anywhere in the world.
In 2018, the Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay was proposed and approved by the Government, with a plan to invest £200million.
However, shortly after it was approved, the Government pulled out of the project citing ”value for money”.
If built, the power plant would have been the first of its kind in the world.
Professor Williams acknowledged that the Tidal Lagoon Power had some shortcomings.
He said: “The Achilles’ heel is the cost of construction and the potential environmental impact of them. Lagoons do change the ecology of an area.
“For example, the barrier at Rance tidal power station in France only generates a small amount of the energy required in the country but has had a detrimental impact on local marine life since its opening in 1967.
“The challenge around tidal lagoons is the cost and the carbon footprint of building them, as a large amount of material is required to build the barriers.”
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However, despite its disadvantages and risks, Prof Williams believed that the UK’s geographical location gave it an excellent advantage when compared to other countries like France.
He said: “The UK is in an enviable position, as it has some of the largest tidal ranges in the world along its west coast.
“Some of these ranges around the North West can reach 5m, which gives them the potential to generate large amounts of limitless energy to support the UK market.
“Unlike wind power, tidal power is not subject to changing conditions as it is the result of the gravitational forces between the Earth, the Moon and the Sun.”
“The main advantage of the UK’s tidal energy potential is the country’s geographical location.
“The UK’s high tidal range can generate more energy for a given investment than a similar lagoon in Europe.”
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