In October 2010, the Government published the findings of a feasibility study into Severn tidal power. It looked at five different schemes, including three barrages and two lagoons.
One of the schemes investigated was the Cardiff-Weston barrage – this was the largest scheme to be considered. The study concluded that despite its high capital costs (approximately £34 billion), this scheme offered the best value for money. The Government concluded that there was not a strategic case for public investment in tidal energy schemes at that time, but did not preclude a privately financed scheme coming forward.
Recent reports suggest that private financing for this scheme may now be available but only if support is available via the proposed Contracts for Difference mechanism.
Terms of reference
The Committee will investigate the proposed Cardiff-Weston Barrage. It will examine the potential for the project to deliver low-carbon electricity to the UK and the likely cost to consumers as well as the potential impacts on wildlife and local employment. The Committee invites written evidence from interested parties addressing some or all of the following:
- What contribution could the Cardiff-Weston Barrage make to UK energy security and climate change objectives?
- What risks and opportunities could it pose with regard to flooding in the Severn estuary, and how might any risks be mitigated?
- What risks and opportunities could it pose to wildlife and habitat in the Severn estuary, and how might any risks be mitigated?
- What lessons can be learned from the successful development of La Rance tidal barrage in France and other tidal power projects?
- What risks and opportunities could it pose to local employment and community, and how might any risks be mitigated? In particular, what are the consequences for current ports, fishing and aggregate extraction industries in the estuary?
- Would the project require support under the proposed new Contracts for Difference mechanism? If so, approximately what level of strike price would be required to make the project economically viable?
- How does the company plan to engage and consult the community in the development of the project?
- Are the proposals in breach of EU legislation, and if so how will this be addressed?
- Are any other proposals for tidal power projects in the Severn estuary currently under consideration?
- What could be the wider international implications of the scheme for UK engineering and UK low-carbon industry?
The deadline for written evidence is Friday 30 November 2012.