Severn Embryonic Technology Scheme (SETS)

In January 2009 Ministers announced the creation of a Cross-Government fund for developing schemes incorporating embryonic technologies which may offer the potential for less impact than conventional technologies on the natural environment of the Severn Estuary. The Severn Embryonic Technologies Scheme (SETS) was supported by the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC), the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) and South West Regional Development Agency (SWRDA).

As one of the three embryonic technologies selected, SMEC was commissioned under the SETS to develop an outline design and technology proposal, with the potential to contribute to the Government's plan for tidal power generation in the Severn Estuary (i.e. to deliver a strategically significant amount of electricity at acceptable cost and with acceptable impact, including on the natural environment and on navigation).

On 19 August 2009, VerdErg Renewable Energy Limited was awarded a grant by The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change for an initial work programme designed to raise the development status of the Spectral Marine Energy Converter (SMEC).

The initial work programme was intended to:

  • Provide auditable documentary back-up to the economic and environmental performance claims made for SMEC.
  • Perform a Conceptual Design of a SMEC installation across the Severn Estuary to establish a credible cost basis.
  • Show that the development status of SMEC can be raised to a level compatible with a Severn Estuary installation in a reasonable time frame.

Full-scale tests were commissioned at BHRGroup, Cranfield on a single Venturi section, as computer simulation capabilities at the time were unable to model the complex flow patterns. The full scale tests permitted dependable power output and inter-tidal inundation estimates to be made for two alignments across the Severn Estuary: Cardiff-Weston and Aberthaw-Minehead.

A copy of the VerdErg Renewable Energy SETS Programme final report can be downloaded here.

Name of scheme(s) and alignment(s) Power Output
Annual Output
Construction Cost (Inc comp habitat@ 2:1 and contingency @15% but exc optimism bias) Energy Cost
Annual Carbon Saving
(CO2 pa)
Estimated year of 1st generation in Severn
(Year Project complete)
Environmental Impacts
(Impacts on Receptors)
Cardiff-Weston 1,340
11.74 £9.85 bn 68 5,050,000 2025 (2026) 1,775 ha of bird habitat loss
Aberthaw-Minehead 1,580
13.84 £14.41 bn 84 6,000,000 2026 (2027) 1,715 ha of bird habitat loss

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