North West Energy Squared Model – a project supported by NWBLT
The model is a large, interactive, computer controlled relief map of the North West; its purpose is twofold:
- To highlight the diversity of both existing and proposed sources of energy in the North West.
- To introduce and promote the concept of the tidal energy and road link scheme, its proposed location and key benefits.
Existing and proposed energy sources in the North West
In light of the challenges facing the UK with regard to energy production, a diverse mix of energy sources is needed to meet future demand in a secure and affordable manner and reduce carbon emissions; a target of 80% has been set to be achieved by 2050.
The North West is in a good position to help future energy generation needs and demands as it boasts the full spectrum of energy generation technologies, is home to one of Europe’s largest nuclear energy centres based in West Cumbria, and is the third largest generator of renewable energy in the UK at 9.4%. The main contributors in the region are wind at 70.5% and landfill gas at 17.9% which equates to 14% and 13.4% respectively to the UK total.1
The region may also be able to offer significantly more through the opportunities associated with shale gas reserves and tidal energy.
The North West has immediate access to one of the world’s best tidal ranges resources. The estuaries along the North West coastline could supply a substantial proportion of the energy needs of the region with the potential to make a significant contribution to the UK’s renewable energy and carbon reduction targets.
Tidal energy and road link scheme
The aim of the scheme is build a series of tidal gateways across the estuaries on the west coast linked by a dual carriageway. The tidal gateways would cross the Dee, Mersey, Ribble estuaries, Morecambe Bay and the Solway Firth. The link road would run from the North Wales coast road to Stranraer.
It is felt that if the gateways are interconnected by road the benefit of the whole would exceed the sum of the parts. Anticipated benefits include:-
- 20 TWh of predictable, low carbon energy for 120 years (@5% of UK’s current energy needs)
- 20,000 construction jobs
- high value jobs especially in engineering
- technical education encouraged
- improved road communications along North West coast
- gross value added over £1.25 billion to the local and UK economies
- West Cumbrian, Fylde and Merseyside coasts revitalised
- significant tourism and leisure opportunities
- potential to help mitigate against storm surges and flooding
The development of a large scale, ambitious marine energy scheme would also promote the services of UK businesses, support further development in research and development activities, including the academic sector, and in turn drive the demand for professional service in the UK and overseas.
The estuaries are also ecologically diverse and internationally recognised areas for nature conservation which needs to be reflected in any future schemes.