Could Anglesey’s tidal energy project usher in a new era of energy?

Work on a building project to create energy from among the world’s greatest untapped energy resources, tidal power, has begun on the beautiful and jagged shoreline of Holy Island situated in north Wales. The Morlais program, on a small island off the coast of Anglesey, has received £31 million from the European Union’s regional funding program, which is probably to be the very last huge grant for Wales. It plans to build turbines at one of the world’s largest tidal stream energy facilities, spanning 13 square miles of seabed.

“We have powerful tidal resources throughout Wales and they have great potential,” Gerallt Llewelyn Jones, who works as a director in charge of the Morlais Energy, which is run by Anglesey-based social business Menter Môn, said. Tidal power, he added, was a more reliable energy source than wind and solar power.

Last December, the Welsh government granted planning permission for the project, which is expected to power over 180,000 homes once operating at full capacity. It will be installed in stages so that the effect on the marine environment could be assessed.

Tower colliery just next to Aberdare, Wales’ last deep coal mine, closed in 2008. Tidal energy proponents claim that the technology could spark a new energy shift in the country, resulting in the creation of thousands of jobs. A slew of multibillion-pound tidal projects is already being planned, with the potential to propel Wales to the forefront of the marine energy revolution.

The Morlais project uses kinetic energy from the tidal currents, although larger-scale programs involve constructing lagoons with massive sea walls incorporating turbines that are powered by tides rising and falling. The west coast of the United Kingdom has one of the world’s highest tidal ranges.

The North Wales Tidal Lagoon, which stretches from Llandudno to Prestatyn and has a 19-mile sea wall, is among the most ambitious proposals. Its supporters claim that the £7 billion projects will power over a million houses and apartments and create more than 20,000 jobs.

North Wales Tidal Energy, which is advocating the concept, says it will have roughly 120 turbines and is seeking £50 million in financing for the planning process, which will include affect assessments, engineering, and design.

“Wales has a big potential for both marine and renewable energy,” he remarked. We need wind and nuclear, but we also require tidal. It is extremely cost-effective, and minister after minister declares that these programs are incredibly exciting, but they never make it into official policy.”

In 2010, the UK’s most ambitious tidal energy project, a £30 billion Severn estuary barrier running from Somerset to South Wales, was shelved. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds was against the plan, claiming that it would destroy the estuary’s bird habitat. Ministers concluded that the initiative had “no strategic case.”

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