Man relies on the ocean for many resources. And given that most of the planet is covered in water, the more sustainable resources we can create with the ocean the better. This latest effort to harness the ocean’s power is designed to power more than 100,000 UK homes for 20 years, eliminating the need for more than 250,000 barrels of oil each year, all with the daily rise and fall of tides.Tidal lagoon power has been in use for more than 50 years now, but the Swansea Bay lagoon in Wales promises to be the grandest development of them all.
Swansea, Wales, experiences some of the largest tidal shifts in the world (between 7-9 meters) on a daily basis. So the proposed plan for this project is to build a 4.5 square mile lagoon, with the tide rising and falling outside the lagoon walls throughout the day. Within the barrier will be as many as 26 massive turbines. At its capacity, the lagoon’s water level will be as much as 27 feet higher than the ocean water outside the walls. When it reaches that maximum capacity the water will be let back out into the ocean through these same turbines, filling and emptying the lagoon in contrast to the changing tide. Each time water builds up inside or outside of the walls, the natural pressure of that water will power the turbines until the water levels equalize on each side, which in turn will power thousands of homes nearby.
But why build a massive tidal lagoon of this scale when you can also use the same facility as a sports arena for sailing, swimming, and even triathlon events? And while you’re at it, why not grow oysters and kelp in an aqua culture sea farm? These are just some of the plans for the project which was just approved by the UK Energy Ministry this summer, with construction scheduled to start in 2017. As we move closer to that date, builders are lobbying to bring similar facilities to Cardiff and Newport Beach.