Green energy pioneer to chair Severn Estuary commission

A leading pioneer of the world’s wind energy industry has been appointed to lead efforts to explore the potential sustainable energy of the Severn Estuary.

The Severn Estuary has one of the highest tidal ranges in the world and has been estimated to have the potential to provide up to 7% of the UK’s total energy.

Plans to build a barrage to harness the energy of the Severn have been discussed for decades but have failed to materialise due to the huge costs involved.

Dr Andrew Garrad, a leading pioneer of the modern wind energy industry, has been appointed as chair of the Western Gateway’s new independent commission to explore the potential of the Severn Estuary to create sustainable energy.

With one of the highest tidal ranges in the world the Severn Estuary has long been seen as a potential source of tidal energy.

This new commission will bring together a range of experts to decide whether, or not, there is now a viable option for using the Severn to create sustainable energy for the UK.

Dr Garrad brings significant experience of delivering innovative renewable energy projects at scale to the commission – with knowledge of what it takes for these to be successful.

In 1984, he co-founded the consulting company Garrad Hassan which grew to become the world’s largest independent renewable energy consultancy, employing 1,000 people in 29 countries when he retired in 2015. Previously he has been President of European Wind Energy Association, Chairman of the British Wind Energy Association, now known as Renewables UK, and was awarded a CBE in 2017 for services to renewable energy.

Dr Garrad, said: “I grew up on the banks of the Severn in Worcester.  I’m delighted to have the opportunity to chair this independent commission to explore the potential to harness sustainable energy from the mighty Severn Estuary.  With climate change and the need for energy security high on the agenda, we have a real chance to re-examine this issue to see if there are solutions which can both generate electricity and  protect this important environmental landmark.

“With past work showing that there is the potential to meet up to 7% of the UK’s total electricity demand, the opportunity is huge.  I look forward to launching this commission next month.”

The commission was launched by the Western Gateway, the Pan-Regional Partnership for South Wales and Western England, which brings together business, local authorities, universities and governments from both sides of the Severn.

The Western Gateway announced its intention to launch a commission in 2022 which was welcomed by  Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, and Vaughan Gething MS, Welsh Minister for the Economy.

Since then, work has been underway to build the underlying evidence base and get in place a group of commissioners who can lead this work. It will be officially launched next month with the first meeting of the commissioners and the publication a timeline for when recommendations will be made.

The commission will have an open remit to explore a range of options including examining existing technology, current financing options, how the environment can be protected, and many others to determine their final recommendation.


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