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Tidal power on an as-yet unheard of scale is at the center of a hugely ambitious plan to redevelop the energy & transportation infrastructure of the Thames Estuary. The 50-billion pound proposal calls for construction of a new tidal barrier with in-stream tidal power turbines capable of powering some 70,000 homes, as well as construction of a new airport to replace Heathrow and high-speed rail links to ports, the Channel Tunnel and England's North and Midlands.

Aviation

Tidal Power at Center of 50-Billion Pound Thames Hub Regional Redevelopment Plan

Tidal power on an as-yet unheard of scale is at the center of a hugely ambitious plan to redevelop the energy & transportation infrastructure of the Thames Estuary. The 50-billion pound proposal calls for construction of a new tidal barrier with in-stream tidal power turbines capable of powering some 70,000 homes, as well as construction of a new airport to replace Heathrow and high-speed rail links to ports, the Channel Tunnel and England’s North and Midlands.

Image courtesy of Halcrow


UK architects Foster + Partners, Halcrow and Volterra are partners in proposing a massive, 10-15-year, 50-billion pound (US$80 billion) regional redevelopment plan for the Thames Estuary, the centerpiece of which would be a 5-billion pound (US$8 billion) project to install in-stream tidal power arrays capable of generating 525 gigawatt-hours (GWh) per year of clean, renewable electricity, enough to power some 76,000 homes.

Announced yesterday by famed architect Lord Norman Foster, the Thames Hub proposal would also see the construction of new flood defenses and a complete revamping of the region’s transportation infrastructure, including construction of an international airport on the Thames Isle of Grain capable of accommodating 150 million passengers per year, according to a businessGreen report.

The tidal arrays would form part of a new, 500 meter-wide flood barrier stretching 5 kilometers in length. In addition, Foster’s plan notes that up to 1,000 more 60-90 kiloWatt (kW) tidal power turbines could be installed on floating pontoons or anchored to the Thames River bed.

The tidal power system could be linked to the regional grid via an interconnection that’s already being built for the London Array offshore wind farm.

“Great Challenges Require Bold Solutions”

Along with generating renewable power on a large-scale and shoring up the region’s flood defenses, the redevelopment plan would overhaul its transportation, communications and water infrastructure. New road crossings and host conduits for high voltage power, broadband fiber lines and water distribution, the greenBusiness report notes.

High-speed passenger and freight rail route encircling London would be built, linking the airport and a planned high-speed rail line to England’s Midlands and the North, as well as Thames Estuary ports and the Channel Tunnel.

“Great challenges require bold solutions, which is why I believe our Thames Hub vision is critical to society and to the country’s economic prosperity,” Halcrow group board director, David Kerr was quoted as saying.

“If we don’t sustain and invest in infrastructure, then it’s at our peril. If the UK is to remain globally competitive, these proposals need to be seriously considered.”

 
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I've been reporting and writing on a wide range of topics at the nexus of economics, technology, ecology/environment and society for some five years now. Whether in Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Americas, Africa or the Middle East, issues related to these broad topical areas pose tremendous opportunities, as well as challenges, and define the quality of our lives, as well as our relationship to the natural environment.

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