How tidal range electricity generation can protect coastal areas from flooding

Tidal range schemes can protect estuaries and coastal areas from the effects of sea level rise according to Lancaster researchers.

David Vandercruyssen, Simon Baker, David Howard and George Aggidis from the School of Engineering say that tidal range schemes are vital to protect habitats, housing and businesses from a rising sea level estimated to be over one metre within 80 years.

Postgraduate researcher David Vandercruyssen said: “High tides can be limited to existing levels simply by closing sluices and turbines and existing low tide levels can be maintained by pumping.”

Professor George Aggidis, Head of Energy Engineering, said: “Development of estuarine barrages has been hampered by misconceptions about their operation and fears of disturbance of the ecologically sensitive intertidal areas.

“Our studies show that with modern technology and operating procedures, estuarine barrages are the only practical way to protect these vital habitats. Coastal lagoons have also been proposed for several locations around Britain’s coast. Schemes will provide jobs in construction and manufacturing for generations to come as well as opportunities for transport, communication, conservation and recreation. In the long-term they will provide reliable power with reduced costs”.

Their research, published in Energy, follows on from earlier Lancaster University research into a combined tidal range electricity generation and cost model demonstrating the viability of tidal range energy in the UK. This showed how it is possible to maintain the full tidal range within existing dams or weirs.

Professor Aggidis said: “Great Britain has the second largest tidal range in the world and major barrages have been considered since Victorian times. Globally, there are two large scale schemes currently in operation, La Rance in France which was completed in 1967 and Lake Sihwa in South Korea from 2011; both schemes generate significant quantities of cheap sustainable electricity.”