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'One third of global electricity needs' could be provided by the world’s tidal range

A tidal lagoon is planned, but not agreed, for Swansea Bay. Credit: Tidal Lagoon Power

Researchers at Bangor University say, in theory, one third of the world's electricity needs could be provided by the globe’s tidal range.

The review estimates that 5792 TWh could be produced by tidal range power plants - using tidal lagoons and barrages to convert energy from the predictable rise and fall of the world’s oceans.

However, 90% of the resource is distributed across just 5 countries, with both the UK and France having a significant share of that resource.

Tidal lagoons are attracting national and international attention, with the 2017 publication of the government commissioned “Hendry Review”, which assessed the economic case for tidal lagoon power plants, and suggested that a “Pathfinder” project in Swansea Bay could be the start of a global industry.

Geographically, the UK is in an ideal position, containing many regions of large tidal range as a result of the resonant characteristics of this part of the European shelf seas.

– Dr Simon Neill, Lead Author

But there is a note of caution.

Although tidal lagoons will likely be less intrusive than tidal barrages (which tend to span entire estuaries), they require careful design and planning to minimise the impact on the local environment.

With significant global potential for tidal range power plants, we need to closely monitor environmental consequences of extracting energy from the tides, and be cautious of altering natural habitats by building structures and impounding water in lagoons or behind barrages

– Dr Sophie Ward, Study Author