A proposed tidal lagoon in the southern English county of Somerset could reduce the impact of flooding on the region while also serving as an ample source of renewable energy.

Swansea-based Tidal Lagoon Power Ltd is in the process of “actively examining” a proposal to build a renewable energy lagoon at Somerset’s Bridgwater Bay.

The tidal lagoon would be capable of generating up to 3.6 GW of electricity by using the motion of tidal water to and from the sea to power a set of turbines installed in the bay’s 16 kilometre surrounding wall.

Professor Roger Falconer

Professor Roger Falconer

Tidal Lagoon Power has taken in a pioneering lead in the deployment of the technology, and has already submitted a planning application for the construction of the world’s first renewable energy lagoon in Swansea Bay, a project which would be capable of generating 240MW of power.

In addition to serving as an abundant source of clean, renewable energy for the local area, the tidal lagoon would also provide the critical added benefit of reducing the severe flooding which so frequently beset the adjacent Somerset Levels – a 650 square kilometre coastal plain situated in the centre of the county.

It would achieve this by preventing the ingress of high tides during storm surges, thus resulting in reduced sea levels which would in turn facilitate the more rapid and diffuse dispersal of water to the landward side of the lagoon.

Roger Falconer, professor of water management at Cardiff University as well as President of the International Association for Hydro-Environment Engineering and Research, believe that the construction of a tidal lagoon at Bridgwater Bay would be the “ideal solution” for flooding in the Somerset Levels, an drake a “huge” difference to water levels.

According to Falconer the reason why the Somerset Levels is so vulnerable to flooding is its horizontal water surface resulting from the flatness of the land. The tidal lagoon would remedy this problem by permitting a drop in the sea water level, resulting in a water surface slope.

A tidal lagoon would also make the dredging of the area’s waterways – one of the most frequently touted solutions for flooding in Somerset, far more effective than they otherwise would be, given the sheer flatness of the land.

The ability of lagoon to generate energy would also offset its exorbitant cost, which a recent government study estimated at between 12 to 18 billion pounds, rendering it too expensive to be pursued solely as a flood prevention measure.