Tidal energy generators

Unique to Bristol is the high tidal range (Avon New Cut) adjacent to a large body of water at high-tide level (Floating Harbour). There is a lot of potential energy arising from this water level difference. Further, there is tidal flow in and out of the Avon. To get a sense of the power, watch the sluices open at the Underfall Yard at low tide!

The idea is to use this to generate renewable energy for Bristol. For example, a siphon construction of pipes can allow water to flow without rebuilding the quayside, with a generator in the water flow. Or a water wheel that works with the flow of the river. Or even water based heat pumps to warm harbourside buildings.

There could be a range of generators aligned along the New Cut, each to demonstrate one form or other of power generation or construction.

Why the contribution is important

City-centre energy generation from a renewable source.

by user997267 on November 21, 2013 at 08:43PM

Current Rating

Average rating: 4.4
Based on: 16 votes


  • Posted by user536903 November 22, 2013 at 11:30

    Brilliant Idea, but do you think the tides can generate abundant energy ?
  • Posted by user463519 November 22, 2013 at 16:21

    Amount of energy that can be produced is proportional to head of water available and/or water speed. I doubt the floating harbour has enough usable water head - if level drops too much it becomes unnavigable & in the extreme it could weaken the harbour walls. It is surprisingly shallow in places since dredging has ceased, I've put a yacht aground near Great Britain!

    A better idea would be damming the Avon near Avonmouth, the head & water quantity would be significant & could also act as a flood defence for Bristol :-)

    This would also make a large amount of sheltered water available for leisure.

    Clearly the council have no money available to do this but an energy company with power rights for 30 years perhaps?
  • Posted by user734334 November 22, 2013 at 19:02

    Of course this makes total sense. But without the ability to store some of the energy I recon it will go the same way as the wind farms.
  • Posted by user463519 November 27, 2013 at 16:54

    yhin. I agree storage is a big problem for all periodic energy sources, the only viable storage available currently is pumped storage of which we as a country have very little. A dammed Avon could also provide a pumped storage facility on all tides, other than big springs.

    The power provided would also be predicable as we know tide tables for next millenium, more than can be said of wind.
  • Posted by user997267 November 29, 2013 at 09:09

    yhin, the energy source is available twice every day, at predictable tide times. There is perhaps no need for storage? As soon as it's generated, it is used. The city location means no transport/tranmission distance, generated and used here, in the city. I can imagine that the street lights of Spike Island can all run off this generated power. The times when it is not being generated, electricity can be obtained from the grid.
    Here's a radical thought, to make the usage of the electricity a work of art too. The amount of energy generated will fluctuate, from more to less according to tide levels. As more energy is available, more lights switch on, as less is available fewer lights are on. Perhaps a different colour shade, to show if the lights are lit by tide or grid. The lights might be for street lighting, but could also be used to uplight cranes (they are a city feature, always in the dark)...The cranes are only lit and visible at moments of energy generation, and only as much as is generated...
  • Posted by user997267 November 29, 2013 at 14:28

    This is a unique solution to energy generation...not to aim for constant energy supply, but to have and use a varying energy supply. The idea that something is only dimly lit at times, and well lit at other times is new (as far as I'm aware). This may be in the form of more/less bulbs, or more/less output per bulb. This becomes a flexible alternative to not having energy storage solutions...
  • Posted by user997267 November 30, 2013 at 21:30

    A good location for some generators? Under commercial Road, across the now disused lock gate of the Bathurst Basin. It's a direct connection between the tidal New Cut and the Floating Harbour. There is even space to locate machinery. Furthermore, it is the edge of Spike Island and as near as possible to M-Shed (if the electricity should power the up-lighting of the cranes).
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