What is the Mersey Tidal project and where the huge plans are up to

Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine has shocked the world – and it is having seismic impacts all around the globe.

One of the impacts being felt here in the UK concerns soaring energy bills, with the crisis highlighting how much we and other countries rely on unstable sources for energy sources. Russia is the world’s third-largest producer of oil and second biggest producer of natural gas.

Energy prices were already rocketing in the UK before the Russian invasion, but the crisis has shown how much we rely on others for energy. Now the government and others are looking for more secure and sustainable sources that we can rely on here in this country.

READ MORE:The game-changing, multi-billion pound plan to make the River Mersey power a million homes

One such source is tidal power. Where energy from tides is converted into useful forms of power like electricity using different methods and technologies.

The government has recently launched a commission to explore using the Severn Estuary, which has the second largest tidal range in the world, to create renewable energy. It has also just been announced that a major tidal project off Anglesey will benefit from more than £ 30m of funding.

Here in the Liverpool City Region, there has been talk of a tidal project in the River Mersey ever since Steve Rotheram was elected as the first Metro Mayor back in 2017. He listed it as one of his key long term aims and as a crucial project to drive the region towards net zero.

The massive renewable energy project, which could come in the shape of a barrage or a tidal lagoon, could eventually generate enough clean, predictable energy to power up to one million homes and create thousands of jobs in its construction and operation. It is hoped the Mersey Tidal project could be up and running within a decade, playing a huge role in the region’s push to net zero carbon by 2040 – at least a decade ahead of national targets.

Over the last two years, the Combined Authority (CA) has undertaken early technical work to understand the potential scope of the scheme, including initial energy and hydrodynamic modeling, cost analysis and supply chain engagement and to develop possible funding and delivery models. It has also undertaken early environmental assessment work and held discussions to influence national government’s energy policy.

The current conceptual design was developed as a foundation that is now ready to be developed into a more detailed proposal. This will allow for greater review and development of the scheme including its overall design and spatial requirements, materials and embedded carbon, and its construction risks, costs and methods. To do this, CA has announced it is looking to appoint an expert technical advisor and designer who will develop the next stage designs for the scheme.

This new, highly specialist work will build on initial technical designs to further develop the concept engineering to support assessment of a tidal range scheme based on the River Mersey or in Liverpool Bay.

Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region said: “Given the cost of living crisis we’re seeing from skyrocketing gas prices and the race against the clock we face to save our planet, there has never been a better time to develop and invest in new sources of clean, renewable energy.

“Mersey Tidal Power will be a project of international significance, whose success would have major implications for the global energy market. When up and running, we believe it has the potential to generate enough predictable energy to power one million local homes. But its benefits wouldn’t stop there. It would also create thousands of well-paid local jobs and apprenticeships in its construction and operation, as well as pioneering research opportunities.

He added: “I am also committed to ensuring that we retain a public ownership stake in the project and exploring the potential for establishing a publicly-owned energy company to retail the power we produce.

“This would be another string to our impressive bow when it comes to green energy. Alongside our existing strengths in wind and hydrogen power, I believe we have the potential to be the UK’s Renewable Energy Coast. A project of this scale requires significant funding. We will put our money where our mouth is but we also need to secure investment from the private sector and, crucially, from government. If leveling up is a serious proposition they should be looking to invest in cutting edge schemes like this. “

Project Director, Martin Land, said: “Delivering a tidal power scheme is a huge technical and engineering undertaking but with a huge prize at the end – the generation of clean, predictable, reliable energy for over 100 years. The specialist technical and design development work we are looking to commence will help us build on the work already done and enable us to better understand how we marry up inherent renewable power of the Mersey with the latest clean generation technology.

“That will help us move forward with shaping the design of the scheme including drawings, 3D models, bill of materials, construction program and to get a handle on costs. It’s still early days in the development of such a big scheme, but it’s the beginning of a new, exciting phase for the project. “

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