A £100,000 feasibility study on harnessing tidal energy on the Solway Firth has been commissioned by the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA), Scottish Enterprise and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA).
The Solway Energy Gateway concept aims to extract energy from the area using a tidal range barrage between Bowness and Annan, along the former route of a rail viaduct.
Highlighted as a potential area for significant tidal energy capture, the location also has the advantage of a possible grid connection to the Chapelcross nuclear power station, which is currently being decommissioned.
Steven Broomhead, chief executive at the NWDA, said: ‘Increased renewable energy generation is clearly a major aim of the government’s energy and climate change policy. The NWDA is pleased to support this feasibility study, which will provide an important stimulus to the concept of tidal power in England’s north west.
‘The Solway Energy Gateway has the potential to not only provide renewable energy for generations to come; it will also provide significant economic benefits to the local communities, generating jobs and developing the area’s tourism potential.’
Richard Waite, NDA acting chief executive, added: ‘I hope that the feasibility study is just the first step in what could be a significant economic and environmental beacon for communities on both sides of the Solway, lessening the impact of decommissioning at Chapelcross and Sellafield.’
The study will be carried out by a consortium led by the Halcrow Group and supported by nb21c – the organisation responsible for conceiving, developing and promoting the community based proposal that will support the study. It is expected to investigate areas such as economic impact, employment opportunities, flood defence and potential for freshwater storage.
Nigel Catterson, nb21c chairman and Solway Energy Gateway co-ordinator, said: ‘The development team is very pleased with the progress made to date and this next stage represents an important and vital step forward.’
A Solway Energy Gateway Steering group is now being created with representatives from both sides of the border.