Submerged Hydro Systems: The Only Large Scale Renewable Energy Solution Left in the UK?

With limited sun year round, coursing rivers, and land space, the United Kingdom is still an ideal country to explore and implement known renewable energy projects, such as solar power, power hydro systems, and wind turbines. However, its wide and long coastlines known for its powerful seas could provide a perfect testbed for submerged underwater hydro systems.

In early June, the government accepted a proposal for a £1 bn project to build the world’s first tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay that will house an underwater power station, generating enough energy to power 175,000 homes. This energy resource has the potential to last for up to 120 years, but its very existence is threatened by the current government’s waning energy policy.

The project will claim a 9.6 mile long seawall that will house huge hydro turbines underwater.

The UK has been trying for a long time to implement sustainable and green living, similar to what the United States is trying to undertake now. Currently, wind power in the UK provides the largest amount of renewable energy to UK homes and businesses, and has helped reduce carbon emissions considerably during the time the technology has been implemented.

Wales Office Minister Lord Bourne said in a speech that there is a great need to reduce the reliance on foreign fossil fuels. Apart from low carbon emissions, it brings other great benefits to the UK.

“Low carbon energy projects like the tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay could bring investment, support local jobs and help contribute to the Welsh economy and Swansea area,”

Bourne at the DECC (Department of Energy & Climate Change).

Despite the recent increase in adoption, it is still a long way from being universally accepted. According to Kyle Magee from Aberyswyth University, the UK is still ‘sluggish’ at implementing sustainable habits as well as adopting renewable energy.

The UK continues to exploit non-renewable oil and gas, making it almost impossible for these renewable energy projects to prosper. It is expected that energy bills will continue to be high until 2030, as extracted oil and gas lessens in the Middle East – based on demand and supply.

In addition, organisations such as the Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) continue to create strong ties with various providers of industrial oil and gas. These companies have been active in the Middle East, particularly in Iraq, wherein they provide workforce solutions locally, repair and maintenance, as well as engineering and construction solutions.

Magee suggests that the best way to implement renewable energy projects is for the government to inform the people of its advantages in the future, as well as having an immediate incentive to support it.

“Although mathematically local actions can add up to make a global impact, qualitative psychologists have identified that to be successful, campaigns not only have to inform people of the global and future benefits, they must also address the complexity of behavioural change; a factor largely controlled by people’s cognitive biases, immediate incentives, and social norms,”

Aberyswyth University student wrote in his LinkedIn post.

At the end of it all, even with promising sustainable energy at hand, it will all depend on the actions of the current & next government to keep their renewable energy goals in check. Their decisions and implementation will be crucial in deciding whether they can meet their target of at least 15% renewable source dependency by 2020.

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