While the power plant below looks more like a gorgeous get-away than a solution to man’s energy needs, its benefits extend far beyond its beauty. As Reconstruct reports, the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon will use the rise and fall of ocean tides to generate enough renewable electricity to power 155,000 homes for 120 years.
Though not completed at present, when the structure is finished, it will produce enough electricity to displace more than a quarter million barrels of oil each year—while leaving virtually no carbon footprint.
Power plants have been generating electricity from the oceans’ tides since 1966, but the Swansea Lagoon is the first to employ a radically new method.
How Does It Work?
It’s nearly six-mile-long barrier wall will enclose a huge amount of water in an artificial “tidal lagoon.” This lagoon captures and holds seawater at high tide. As the tide goes out, water in the 4.5 square mile lagoon will be as much as 27 feet higher than the water outside its walls. This immense pressure will be routed through 26 turbines, flooding out to sea until the water level equalizes on both sides of the lagoon.
The flow is reversed at high tide, keeping the sea out of the lagoon until it reaches maximum height. Then water is let go, so it may rush through the turbines until it again fills up the lagoon.
To put it into perspective, the amount of water rushing through the turbines would fill 100,000 Olympic swimming pools each day.
The Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon will crank out clean energy as well as be used as a sports arena, aquaculture farm and seaside sculpture garden, reports GoodNewsNetwork. Its aquaculture farm will grow oysters, kelp and other local sea crops.
In addition, the lagoon can be used as a giant arena for sailing and cycling sports.
The designers of the fabulous structure plan to implement sculptures that appear to disappear into the water or rise out of it as the tides roll in and out.
Its location at Swansea, Wales was chosen because it has some of the highest tide differences in the U.K. This will maximize the amount of water that can be used to turn turbines and generate the 420-gigawatt hours per year.
Plans for the structure were approved by the UK Energy Ministry in June, and construction is expected to begin sometime in 2017.
The builders are presently bargaining to exchange the $1.5 billion price tag (subsidized by the government for 35 years) for approval on two more tidal lagoon plants at Cardiff and Newport.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Naomi Larsson
For centuries, the delicate silver dove has been a symbol of love and fidelity.
Biodiversity and Habitat Loss<p>Their near extinction is a symbol of the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/global-biodiversity-outlook-targets-extinction-summit-new-york-pledge/a-54932895" target="_blank">biodiversity crisis</a> in the UK, largely driven by habitat destruction. Britain is now one of the countries with the most <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/future-of-UK-nature#:~:text=The%20UK%20is%20one%20of,than%20half%20are%20in%20decline" target="_blank">depleted nature</a> in the world according to the World Wildlife Fund. Half its plant and animal species are in decline and more than <a href="https://www.rspb.org.uk/about-the-rspb/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/let-nature-sing-wales/#:~:text=a%20natural%20tragedy.-,Over%2040%20million%20birds%20have%20vanished%20from%20UK%20skies%20in,unaware%20of%20the%20impending%20danger" target="_blank">40 million birds</a> have vanished in just half a century.</p><p>"[Turtle doves] are the canary in the [coal] mine because there are all these other species before it and after it," said Tree. "It's an umbrella for all the other species that are heading that way."</p><p>Turtle doves migrate south through Europe to sub-Saharan Africa between July and September, ending up in dry woodland and farmland areas of countries like Mali and Senegal for winter. </p><p>Droughts in West Africa and the Sahel region are believed to have contributed to the fall in turtle dove species recorded in northern Europe, with low rainfall reducing supplies of the seeds and insects the birds rely on for energy for the long journey home.</p>
Conservation and Farming<p><a href="https://www.operationturtledove.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Operation Turtle Dove,</a> a partnership project of charities including the Essex Wildlife trust, works with landowners and farmers to actively build turtle dove habitat.</p><p>Outten works with <a href="https://www.ebws.org.uk/birdsites/blue-house-farm-ewt-north-fambridge" target="_blank">Blue House Farm</a>, a 660-acre nature reserve in the UK county of Essex, where they have replicated weedy fallow plots. </p><p>"We work on it every year to make sure it's in the condition it needs to be with plants such as clovers and black medic," Outten said. "These plants are native to the landscape and produce the seed the birds feed on." </p><p>The birds eat a wide range of seeds from various plants that would have been abundant 50 or 100 years ago, added Guy Anderson, program manager for species recovery with The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). </p><p>"But it's simply true that with the gradual process of <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/farming-without-pesticides-how-can-we-make-agriculture-greener/a-52216796" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">intensifying our agricultural production</a>, the availability of those seeds has dropped and dropped," said Anderson.</p><p>Part of the project includes supplementary feeding — providing sources of food in the form of seed or grain. Under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme in England, farmers can receive financial support to create a turtle dove habitat. </p><p>Though they haven't recorded an increase in doves across the sites in the four years of working on the project, Outten said they are seeing improvements in how landowners and farmers manage habitat for the birds. </p>
A Turtle Dove Haven<p>The 3,500-acre Knepp Estate in West Sussex is another project taking a different approach and one of the few places where turtle dove numbers are increasing.</p><p>Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell converted their intensively farmed land into a rewilding project almost 20 years ago. They have let the land return to nature.</p><p>Just one year after they'd finished <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/uks-most-talented-architects-are-not-human/a-35952128" target="_blank">rewilding</a> the southern part of their property, they heard turtle doves for the first time. It's now a breeding hotspot for the birds with an estimated 19 pairs. Knepp is also home to <a href="https://www.rewildingbritain.org.uk/rewilding/rewilding-projects/knepp-estate" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2% of the UK's population</a> of nightingales. </p><p>Tree is critical of supplementary feeding schemes that, in her view, are short term. She questions the chances of turtle doves getting to feed on scattered seeds before other mammals eat them first.</p>
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By Jessica Corbett
Green groups applauded Sen. Jeff Merkley on Wednesday for introducing a pioneering pair of bills that aim to "protect the long-term health and well-being of the American people and their economy from the catastrophic effects of climate chaos" by preventing banks and international financial institutions from financing fossil fuels.