‘Green Industrial Revolution’: Liverpool unveils proposals for world’s largest tidal project

Pictured: An artist's impression of the project

The Mersey Tidal Power project, according to the local authority, is the UK’s “first of its kind” tidal barrage, with the projected capacity to generate clean energy for approximately 120 years and create thousands of jobs in its construction and operation.

The City Region has opted to pursue a barrage between the Wirral and Liverpool as the preferred solution for the project, potentially enabling the establishment of a cycling and pedestrian route over the river between Liverpool and Wirral, while also serving as a defence against future flooding risks that will increase in the future due to climate change.

The multi-billion-pound project is now progressing towards the formal planning consent process. If successful, the project could position Liverpool as a leader in sustainable energy and align with the region’s target of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2040.

The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority intends to seek approval at its March meeting to submit a scoping opinion to the Planning Inspectorate.

The Liverpool City Region’s Mayor Steve Rotherham said: “The River Mersey has been the lifeblood of our region’s fortunes for centuries – and it has an even more vital role to play in our future.

“Where our area was once a leader in the First Industrial Revolution, we now have an opportunity to seize our chance to become a leader in the Green Industrial Revolution.

“Beyond the banks of the river Mersey, this is a national infrastructure asset that could position the UK as a global leader in the renewables race and help to turbocharge our net-zero ambitions.”

Planning process

Over the past three years, the Combined Authority has conducted early technical work to define the project’s potential scope, highlighting the economic and environmental advantages of a barrage compared to alternative options like a lagoon.

According to the local authority, a barrage would be less expensive and require lower levels of Government support.

If approved, the scoping opinion submission will be followed by a period of engagement with stakeholders regionally and nationally. Subsequent formal consultations across communities and stakeholder groups will be conducted to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the project’s potential environmental and social impact.

Liverpool City Region Combined Authority’s portfolio holder for net-zero and air quality Councillor David Baines said: “We need to ensure we are extremely aware of our sensitive local ecology but just reaching this stage in the Mersey Tidal Power project has taken a huge amount of hard work allied with vision and would be a big step towards it becoming a reality.”

UK’s tidal power

Recent research found that a resilient and cost-effective transition to 100% renewables in the UK would require at least 27GW of wave and tidal energy capacity by 2050.

According to the Marine Energy Council, the cost of generating power from sources such as tidal energy has nearly halved since 2018. The Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult suggests that prices could potentially be lower than nuclear energy, contingent upon policy support.

Tidal energy initiatives have begun to feature in Government clean energy auctions, although the Government’s strategic funding plans remain unclear. Projects approved through these auctions are anticipated to increase UK tidal power from its current 10.4 megawatts (MW) of installed capacity to over 50MW by 2027.

In a recent development, the University of Edinburgh released a report indicating that a mere 6 gigawatts (GW) of tidal and wave capacity each could lead to an annual reduction of more than £1bn in energy system costs.

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