West Somerset Tidal Range Scheme
The West Somerset Lagoon is a proposed tidal range scheme which will enclose about 80km2 of the Bristol Channel between Minehead and East of Watchet. The scheme will use the water head difference between the lagoon and the Bristol Channel to generate 6.5TWh/year of energy from an installed capacity of 2.5 GW. With generation on both ebb and flood tides, the energy gap on each tide would be only about 2 to 4 hours. As tides are predictable, power output would be reliable and totally predictable for years ahead. With some short term storage, firm power could be provided. This would provide a significant addition to diversification of UK power sources. On completion it should also be possible to add around 1GW of floating solar within the lagoon.
West Somerset Lagoon
Non-energy benefits would include protection of the coast from erosion and flooding due to storm surges and from rising sea levels. Also, there is potential for a marina with leisure facilities at Minehead and for improvements to the harbour at Watchet. There would be substantial employment during construction and some continued employment during operation.
The scheme has been designed by and is being promoted by Tidal Engineering and Environmental Services. Two of the three directors, Chris Binnie and David Kerr, have wide experience in power and water engineering and have been involved over the last 30 years in many of the previous tidal range schemes. They consider that WSL is the most cost effective UK tidal range lagoon scheme and one with relatively low environmental impact.