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Saturday 24 March 2018
24 March 2018 - NEWS UPDATE
Renewable Energy

Government rules out Hafren’s Severn Barrage saying Regen SW’s approach is best

The Government has ruled out Hafren Power's controversial Severn barrage saying it accepted Regen SW's view that a balanced technology approach to realise the potential renewable resources in the Bristol Channel is the way forward.


Case not proven: the proposed barrage

In their response to the Energy and Climate Change select committee's report on the Severn Barrage, ministers say that a traditional tidal barrage is not the only way of exploiting the outstanding resource of the Severn estuary.

They add: "Any such scheme would need to credibly demonstrate strong evidence of value for money, economic benefits, energy saving and environmental impact mitigation before the Government could take a view on its potential."

Their conclusion is that in its current form, the Hafren Power proposal for a Severn barrage does not demonstrate that it could deliver the benefits it claims it would achieve.

Hafren's proposal to build an 18km fixed tidal barrage across the Severn estuary between Brean in England and Lavernock Point in Wales has been controversial from the start.

The company claimed the bi-directional turbines would generate 5% of the UK's demand, or enough to power 3.4 million homes, at a levelised cost of £48 per megawatt-hour.

Although construction of the barrage would be privately financed, Government support would have been needed for about 30 years through Contracts for Difference or a similar mechanism.

The Select Committee's report, published in June, described the scheme as 'no knight in shining armour for UK renewables'.

The Government's response agrees with the Committee's recommendation not to support the barrage and says that before ministers would approve the proposal Hafren would have to supply:

* In-depth study of environmental impacts and mitigation plans.

* Further information on turbines including: impacts, commercialisation, and in-situ testing.

* Evidence to substantiate claims of how much of the proposed benefits can be delivered.

* Extensive stakeholder consultation

* Analysis of impacts on upstream ports and navigation and mitigation plans as well as flood impact.

Hafren had included the potential savings to the nation in flood defences when the barrage was operation in the formula for arriving at a strike price.

But this has been ruled out by ministers who say the strike price is set on the basis of the cost of building and operating specific technologies or generation assets in order to meet Government electricity objectives. It does not include secondary or collateral costs or benefits which might arise from a project such as potential flood savings.

The government also points out that given the sensitive and highly protected environment of the Severn Estuary, any project may face insurmountable obstacles unless Imperative Reasons of Overriding Public interest (IROPI) can be clearly demonstrated.

This is clearly not the case with the current evidence that Hafren has presented.

The Government also says that Hafren has failed to reassure the ports industry that its business would be viable with the barrage in place and that serious questions have not been answered over issues such as siltration, water levels, shipping times and costs.

The report adds: "The Government recognises the strong energy and climate change benefits that a Severn Barrage could bring. It has summarised these in our written evidence to the Committee. However these cannot come at any cost. The Government agrees with the Committee that the Hafren Power proposal in its current form does not credibly demonstrate sufficient mitigation of the environmental and regional economic impacts. Nor does it demonstrate sufficiently good value for money for the consumers."

"There is a huge amount of potential energy in the Bristol Channel and it is only right that the Government should be seeking the best ways of extracting it. The Government's STP study took an in-depth look at a number of tidal range options for the Severn estuary.

The Government welcomed the RegenSW report on a balanced technology approach in the Bristol Channel. The RegenSW report goes some way in looking at the possible combinations of renewable energy projects in the Bristol Channel to make best use of its resource whilst considering environmental impacts and regional industry concerns.

'Until concrete proposals are put forward by developers, the Government doesn't see a strategic case for funding further studies to examine the potential of the region at the expense of the tax payers.'

It concludes: 'The Government sees the RegenSW report as a useful framework against which developers can best consider the appropriate use of resources in the Bristol Channel.'
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