Mixed Greens: $38bn tidal project cheaper than wind? | RenewEconomy

Mixed Greens: $38bn tidal project cheaper than wind?

Severn tidal project promoters says $38bn plan cheaper than wind and nuclear. Alstom snaps up Rolls Royce tidal developer, Infigen lifts Australia wind revenue.


Promoters of the $38 billion Severn Barrage tidal energy project in the UK are ramping up their lobbying for the scheme, saying it would require smaller subsidies than those afforded to wind energy, and probably around the same level as nuclear, Bloomberg reports. Gregory Shenkman, chairman of Hafren Power, told a hearing in the House of Commons in London that the project – which involves a dam-like structure spanning the 18km width of the Severn River and 1,026 turbines – would be economically viable. “We plan to finance this project entirely from private sources, and it’s taken five to six years to get here so far, said Shenkman.

However, he said the project would need 30 years of support through subsidies. Across its 120 year life span, the project could produce power at about $70/MWh, nearly half the cost of nuclear. Bloomberg said the project has yet to have an  environmental impact assessment. An earlier tender for a Severn power plant was ditched in 2010 because the governments said it would rely too heavily on public funds. It is estimated that it could provide 5 per cent of the UK’s energy requirements.

Alstom buys Rolls Royce tidal turbine division

Meanwhile, French energy supply giant Alstom has completed the acquisition of ocean turbine maker Tidal Generation for around $78 million. The deal gives Alstom access to a 1MW turbine installed this month at the European Marine Energy Center in the Orkney Islands. Alstom says the machine has a rotor diameter of 18m, a 22m metres long nacelle and weighs 150 tonnes. It has three pitchable blades, and operates at a water depth of 40 meters, by rotating to face the incoming tide at an optimal angle, to extract the maximum energy potential.

Last week, French engineering group DCNS paid $176 million for majority stake in OpenHydro. Alstom also bought 40 percent of AWS Ocean Energy in 2011 and is working with UK utility SSE to use wave-power systems at a 200MW project off northern Scotland. Alstom also makes turbines for offshore wind farms, Bloomberg reports.

Infigen increases Australia wind revenue

Infigen Energy says its revenues from its Australian wind farm operations jumped 20 per cent in the latest quarter to $36 million, a result of increased output due to better wind conditions, and higher prices from its “merchant wind farms” – those that sell into the market rather than a fixed contract – thanks to the carbon price. However, overall revenue was only 5 per cent higher at $70.8 million because of lower revenue from its US business and adverse foreign exchange movements.

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