Power of the Mersey tides could help ‘keep the lights on’

Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram says he is determined to push on with the Mersey Tidal Power Project, which has an estimated cost of around £4bn. Tony McDonough reports

River Mersey
The power of the Mersey tides could provide our future energy needs. Picture by Tony McDonough


A multi-billion pound project to generate electricity using the River Mersey powerful tides is essential to “keep the lights on’ in the coming decades.

Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram says he is determined to push on with the Mersey Tidal Power Project, which has an estimated cost of around £4bn, and would provide enough energy for up to one million homes.

Mr Rotheram and the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority commissioned a year-long study of industry-leading experts. They concluded there was a “strong strategic case” for taking the project forward.

He put together a project team, including leading consultancy Arup, ABPmer, Grant Thornton and BECG, with Liverpool law firm Weightmans also providing legal advice. Now he is asking the Combined Authority for another £2.5m to carry out the next phase of work and develop a preferred option to take forward to planning.

The Metro Mayor believes the project could be the “cornerstone” of the city region’s response to the climate emergency caused by rising carbon emissions. The study reported that the project would address potential future energy shortfalls, tackle the climate emergency, achieve zero carbon targets, and support a more stable renewable energy mix. Its detailed findings included:

  • The UK’s demand for electricity is set to double by 2050 due to electric vehicles and as existing industries decarbonise.
  • Tidal power has a key role to play in meeting this demand from renewable sources, as fossil fuels are phased out.
  • Tidal power is predictable, flexible and reliable, complementing the intermittent nature of other major renewables like wind and solar power.
  • It could generate much more power than previously thought possible, with cutting edge turbine technologies now capable of generating power efficiently on both the ebb and flow of the tide.
  • This flexibility in operation, with variable turbine speed and the ability to pump water efficiently, can help significantly in mitigating local environmental impacts.

Mr Rotheram said: “With demand for electricity set to double by 2050, the UK will face an energy crisis if the government doesn’t support large scale renewable projects such as Mersey Tidal Power, which are key to keeping the lights on. 

Steve Rotheram
Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram wants to push on with his tidal project


So far our work shows that Mersey Tidal Power could generate enough energy for up to one million homes, create thousands of jobs and make our region Britain’s renewable energy coast.

“Our unique geography makes us one of the only places in the UK where it is possible to generate massive quantities of predictable, renewable tidal electricity. With the right government support, we could be generating clean power by the end of the decade – a full 10 years ahead of the city region’s zero carbon 2040 target.

“But this will require Boris Johnson to not only talk about ‘levelling up’ the North, but to step up and address the imbalance in how major projects are assessed and funded. We know that Mersey Tidal Power has the potential to provide energy for well over 100 years, but the Government’s current formula does not take that into account, instead using a 35-year timescale.

“So today, I’m calling on Government to look seriously at our project and help us make this a reality. Not only will it help to make Britain a worldwide technological leader, but also a global leader in tackling the climate emergency.”

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