Sunday, 19 February 2012

More on Tidal Power

Interestingly the BBC today have an article about tidal power.

Its interesting for quoting Tim Yeo, chairman of the Energy and Climate Change Committee sounding off about how the UK is in the lead globally on tidal power and how we invest in it in order not to lose the lead.

However, also quoted in the BBCs report is the committee's report titled The Future of Marine Renewables in the UK only concentrates on the sort tidal power that uses propellers inserted into the tidal stream to generate electricity.

For some unfathomable reason, the report body-swerves around tidal barrages, which is curious. Except when you take into consideration the ecological impact. I'm sure a barrage looks hideous to an ecologist and the fact that the tides in the estuary or harbour are disrupted, which will put the twitchers up in arms. But the submerged propellers aren't free from ecological impact either: what about the fish swimming through the devices, especially prized and rare species? What about mammals such as seals and dolphins? How will they fare when the devices are installed in their territory?

The omission of barrages is curious because tidal barrages are more efficient and although initially expensive to engineer, are most likely cheaper to maintain. They are more efficient because all of the water is harnessed, all of the tidal stream is used to create energy. The propeller devices have the tidal stream spilling past them, and they only use a tiny fraction of that tidal energy. Of course the propellers, being submerged are harder to maintain. In fact they have to include expensive raising mechanisms to haul them out of the water for maintenance. Compare that with a nice, dry turbine hall housed within a concrete barrage.

So, we know they are inefficient so guess what? Yep, they'll be hideously expensive (the article states 5 times more expensive than onshore wind). Hideously expensive translates as "unprofitable without subsidies", which in essence is what the Committee's report is saying: the taxpayer should stump up billions in subsidies to keep us at the forefront of an inefficient technology that no-one can afford and that those less ecologically inclined will ignore in favour of more efficient barrages.

Makes you wonder with all these subsidies for all of these unprofitable technologies; the companies involved must have bloody good lobbyists....


  1. A while ago, Private Eye reported that Tim Yeo was a director of several "Green" companies - businesses which rely on either legal compulsion, taxpayer subsidy or both for their viability.

    He is in the enviable position of being able to vote himself rich to influence other politicians to help him.

    The Green scam goes right to the top of the political tree. Samantha Cameron's father rakes in around £1000 per day from his wind/subsidy farm - paid for by pensioners' increased electricity bills and increased costs for industry. Mrs Clegg works for a company which sells wind turbines to enable others to do the same. . Never was there such a scheme for enriching the few at the expense of the many,

    The demonisation of that beneficent, fertilising, trace gas carbon dioxide has been made a pretext for the most massive political misdirection of resources ever seen. I used to think there could be nothing more wasteful than the EU's Common Agricultural Policy but this dwarfs it and is intended to be part of "global governance".

  2. Yep, its the worst transfer of funds from the poor to the rich in probably a century or more.

    But everyone has bought into it because its about saving the environment for the children, unaware that it's actually all about finance.

    At the front end you might get the pseudo-scientists and eco-hippies chuntering on about CO2 and the climate, but hidden behind the smokescreen are the multi- billion-dollar carbon trading schemes and the obscene subsidies falling into fat-cat wallets.


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