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Proving the Viability of Tidal Stream Energy

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The Morlais Project aims to benefit local communities, the economy and help tackle climate change by using renewable energy to generate clean low carbon electricity.

The project manages a 35 km2 area of seabed off the coast of Holy Island, Anglesey and has the potential to put Ynys Môn on the map in terms of tidal stream energy.

Gerallt Llewellyn Jones, the Director of the Morlais Project, chats to Business News Wales about the benefits of tidal stream energy.

Gerallt said:

“The project primarily wants to contribute to the blindingly obvious requirement today for an energy mix. Secondly, it hopes to readdress the job losses in this part of the world. Thirdly, it aims to make sure that Wales makes maximum use of the resources that it has been available all the time.”

The first stage of the project has focussed on securing consent. Community and stakeholder consultation and engagement has been a key part of this process. The consent application was submitted in the autumn of 2019 and a decision is expected by Welsh Ministers during the second half of 2021.

Subject to achieving consent and approval, the second stage will put the necessary infrastructure in place for developers of tidal stream energy converters to deploy their technology in the zone. Implementation will be phased which means devices will be installed gradually and on a small scale to begin with to ensure that the development does not negatively impact marine wildlife.

The tides are caused by the gravitational forces of the sun and moon moving the seas around the surface of the earth. It is this movement of water that is used to generate electricity.

In a few places the location of land masses and the shape of the seabed magnifies the movement of the sea to create an area of great tidal energy. The west coast of Anglesey and Holy Island is one of these places with currents of up to 3.7 m/s or 7 knots.

Electricity generated from tidal energy is renewable, low carbon, clean and reliable.

Gerallt said that novel renewable energy technology needs support in its early years to reach viability, as do all such technologies.

The Morlais Energy Project awaits approval from the Welsh Government later in October.