Mersey Tidal Power project forges close links with world’s largest tidal operator

Steve Rotheram and Jeong kyeongyun

Liverpool’s aim of developing the world’s largest tidal power scheme on the River Mersey has come a step closer after the signing of an historic agreement.

Metro Mayor, Steve Rotheram, signed papers with South Korea’s state water company to co-operate and share lessons that could help the region with its hydro power ambitions.

Jeong kyeongyun, vice president of Korea Water Resources Corporation, known as K-water, was in Liverpool today (December 6) to sign the Memorandum of Agreement with Mayor Rotheram.

K-water owns and operates the Sihwa Lake tidal range power scheme, currently the world’s largest.

The Mersey Tidal Power Project has the potential to generate enough clean, predictable energy to power up to one million homes and create thousands of jobs in its construction and operation. Over the past two years, the authority has undertaken early technical work to develop the potential scope of the scheme, which could be up and running within a decade, playing a huge role in the region’s push to net zero carbon by 2040 – at least a decade ahead of national targets.

The agreement paves the way for close co-operation between the two tidal power projects, through reciprocal visits and information sharing.

Mayor Rotheram said: “The River Mersey has been the lifeblood of our region’s fortunes for centuries and is central to my ambitions to build a cleaner, greener and prosperous future for our area.

“For as long as I can remember, there has been talk of building a tidal barrage on the Mersey. Thanks to devolution – we’re working to make it a reality.

“There are still huge technical and financial challenges to overcome, but Mersey Tidal Power has the potential to provide enough clean, green, predictable energy to power up to one million homes for over a century.

“We want to take inspiration from trailblazers around the world, who are already leading the way in tidal energy, and our agreement with K-water is a massive step on our journey to bringing this project to life. I am very hopeful that this partnership will flourish and, hopefully, help to position the Liverpool City Region as Britain’s Renewable Energy Coast.”

The agreement with K-water is part of a wider strengthening of links between the Liverpool City Region and South Korea. As part of the UK-Republic of Korea Innovation Twins Programme, the city region is developing links with Busan, South Korea’s second largest city.

The programme is aimed at developing long term research and innovation links, creating a pipeline of opportunities for bilateral trade and foreign direct investment (FDI).

Jeong kyeongyun, senior executive vice president of K-water, said: “I know that this MOA between you and us is the move for R&D cooperation to ensure the successful development of Mersey Tidal Power Project and to implement the water-energy-city nexus, and I believe that this move will help expand exchanges between the two countries to proactively respond to the global climate crisis and to sustainably realise carbon neutrality.”

The move is the latest stage of engagement between the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and K-water, which began with meetings at COP26 in Glasgow, in November last year, and continued with a visit by Mersey Tidal’s director to Sihwa Lake and Daejon in South Korea in May 2022.

K-water built and operates the Sihwa Lake tidal range power plant, which has been operational since 2011 and generates 552GWh of clean, green energy every year, replacing the equivalent of 862,000 barrels of oil a year.

K-water is the governmental agency for comprehensive water resource development and providing both public and industrial water in South Korea. In addition to the Sihwa Lake tidal range power plant and a range of other renewable energy initiatives, K-water constructs and manages multipurpose dams, estuary dykes, and canal facilities.

The company also operates water supply facilities, maintaining water quality and controlling sewage systems.

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