Liverpool’s Mersey tidal scheme granted initial funding

The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority has unanimously adopted Mayor Rotheram’s proposal to grant a share of £1.6 million from priorities fund to harness the tides of River Mersey.

The proposal, approved on February 2 as part of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority Budget for 2018-2019, will provide an undisclosed amount for the first two stages of feasibility work related to Mersey tidal project that will be conducted by the Mersey Tidal Commission, the Metro Mayor’s office has confirmed.

Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram has in November 2017 appointed the former UK Chair of Ørsted, previously known as Dong Energy, Brent Cheshire as Chair of the Mersey Tidal Commission for one year period to spearhead Mersey tidal plans.

It is understood that over the next 12 months the Commission will focus on preparing an economic, technical and environmental business case for the project, as well as seeking to influence and support the development of a local and national policy on tidal energy schemes.

“The budget is not an exact amount but is sufficient to cover likely expenditure for the work program,” Metro Mayor’s office said in an email statement.

The project is still in its early stages, but a special purpose vehicle that will serve to secure value for the City Region from the project has already been commissioned, and engagement with national government and agencies is underway.

The Commission has appointed global law firm DLA Piper at act as legal adviser for the creation of a special purpose vehicle for the project.

The production of an outline business case for the project is expected to be completed by March 2019.


Previous studies & potential technologies for the Mersey tidal scheme


River Mersey has been previously studied for tidal power developments by Peel Energy and The Northwest Development Agency (NWDA) who conducted a feasibility study for a tidal power scheme in the Mersey Estuary back in 2011.

A barrage across the river between New Ferry in Wirral and Dingle in Liverpool was identified as a preferred solution that would deliver enough electricity to meet the average needs of over 200,000 homes, but the plans were abandoned due to high construction costs at the time.

Indicative design of impounding barrage designed for unrestricted head, ebb only generation (Image: Peel Energy; NWDA study)

“The work done by Peel lay some important ground work for understanding the viability of the project. However, a lot has changed since 2011. In preparing our business case we will undertake a robust analysis of the energy market as it stands in 2017/2018,” the Commission said earlier.

The precise technology that will be used for the project is still unknown, but the Commission said the technical solution will form a key part of the business case.

“We want to harness the natural resources of the River Mersey in a way that is cost effective and generates maximum benefits for the local community – these objectives will be key drivers in our choice of technology,” according to the Commission.


Support for the project shaping up


Furthermore, in January this year, the shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, the shadow Business Secretary, Rebecca Long-Bailey and Peter Dowd MP had been in the City Region where they had been informed of the Combined Authority’s plans to develop a tidal energy project in the river Mersey.

Shadow Chancellor McDonnell during visit to Liverpool (Photo: Liverpool City Region Combined Authority)

During the occasion, the Shadow Chancellor McDonnell gave a public commitment that a future Labour Government would look to use funding from the proposed regional investment bank to support the plans for the Mersey tidal project.

McDonnell said: “The future economic prosperity of this country is dependent on ensuring that we have the right infrastructure in place to ensure economic growth, which is why we have pledged to set up a National Investment Bank.

“Listening to Steve’s exciting plans to harness the power of the River Mersey to drive sustainable growth for city region it is clear that this is exactly the type of project that the National Investment Bank should be supporting.”

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