When Chris Huhne, the UK energy secretary, announced last month that he was cancelling public funding for the Severn barrage – the massive tidal power project which was due to provide around 5 per cent of the UK’s electricity needs – it initially looked like the project was dead in the water.
But the government had left itself some wriggle room. As Sylvia Pfeifer reported at the time (italics mine):
Mr Huhne also confirmed there would be no state funding for the Severn tidal power project, saying the government did not see “a strategic case at this time for public funding”.
Several important themes have come from the first session of the European Future Energy Forum here in London, where among the speakers were European energy ministers, campaigners and industry executives. I will try and write a bit more about them later on today, but here were some of the dominant themes of the discussion. These were the dominant topics at the initial debate, which looked at the challenges currently facing European renewables (which I have now updated with quotes).
So farewell, then, Severn Barrage.
The idea of an electricity-generating barrage across the Severn estuary has been around for nearly as long as electricity generation itself. Writing on the subject several years ago, I was delighted to receive a letter from a reader who had been present at a public meeting to push forward work on such a barrage – in 1929.
It is hardly surprising, as the Severn is an ideal place for tidal power generation. It has one of the highest “tidal reaches”, or differences between high and low tide, in the world.