University of Bristol Students Working on Tidal Energy Project

On November 4, Mayor of Bristol George Ferguson met with final year engineering students at the University of Bristol to launch the Bristol 2015 Marine Energy Accelerator Programme (MEAP) – a year-long programme of events and other initiatives, co-funded by Bristol City Council and Bristol 2015 European Green Capital.

Commenting on the launch, the Mayor said: “Bristol is extremely fortunate to have a cluster of great companies in this sector which, combined with first class research facilities and energy resources right on our doorstep, make us a world leading hub for tidal energy engineering and technology development. As we approach 2015, our European Green Capital year, we want to celebrate this talent locally and showcase it on the international stage. We must also push ahead with initiatives to develop the tidal energy potential of the Severn Estuary and Bristol Channel and maximise this great shared resource.”

While at the University, the Mayor met with industry representatives and a group of final year students from the Department of Civil Engineering, who are undertaking research projects to look at tidal range technology and to build a demonstration prototype to harness the tidal energy resource at Bristol port.

Professor Colin Taylor from the University of Bristol’s Department of Civil Engineering added: “We have long recognised the tidal energy potential of the Bristol Channel. The engineering challenge has been to harness that energy in a way that is in balance with the marine environment and at a cost that is acceptable to the energy consumer. We are very pleased to be working with The Bristol Port Company and others in the industry to enable some of our brightest students to address this challenge.”

Intended to accelerate the commercial development of tidal energy technology, MEAP will include support for the Bristol Tidal Energy Forum, a highly successful business network of over 100 tidal companies which meets bi-annually in the city. Other initiatives within the programme will focus on marine energy investment opportunities at the International GreenTech Festival to be held in April, and the development of plans for sustainable energy projects in the Bristol Channel.

The launch event was attended by Andrew Garrad, Chairman of Bristol 2015, and Peter Kydd, Chair of the South West Marine Energy Park, plus a number of industry sponsors of Bristol 2015 including The Bristol Port Company, Burges Salmon and ARUP. The Bristol Port Company is sponsoring Bristol 2015 European Green Capital as part of its continuing commitment to find balanced ways to harness the energy of the Severn.

Andrew Garrad, Chairman of Bristol 2015, commented: “The oceans have the potential to provide huge amounts of renewable energy and it’s here in the UK, and specifically here in Bristol, that we have the resource, expertise and ambition to make this happen. I’m thrilled therefore that Bristol 2015 has been able to lend its support to this exciting initiative.”

Johnny Gowdy, Director at Regen SW which will manage MEAP, added: “We have been supporting Bristol City Council for several years, helping the city to capitalise on its natural position in the tidal sector, and it’s been a great pleasure to work closely with so many world class businesses and talented individuals in the city and across the south west. We are very pleased therefore to continue the programme into 2015, Bristol’s Green Capital year.”

Mark Robins, Senior Policy Officer for the RSPB, and a member of the MEAP steering group, said: “There’s a huge prize here – to unleash a low carbon marine energy opportunity and to do this in a way that works with, rather than against, the world class setting provided by the natural environment of the Severn estuary – rich in wildlife and with important carbon stores in its mud habitats. This first step in the Accelerator programme must set the bar for good, rather than bad, environmental outcomes.” 

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Source: University of Bristol; Image: flickr