Centre Port Holdings, a UK-based marine and renewable energy infrastructure developer announced the first stages of development of a major tidal energy scheme in The Wash, on the East coast of England, that would incorporate the world’s first tidal-powered deepsea container terminal as well as providing landside flood defences for up to a million people.
The developers claim the zero carbon terminal would be capable of processing 1.5 -4 million containers a year, and handle the world’s largest container ships, feeder services and roll-on, roll-off (ro-ro) vessels.
The proposal includes the construction of a hydro-electric structure within the project which would capture the incoming and outgoing tides twice a day, providing predictable energy for the terminal and up to 600,000 homes and businesses in the region.
Centre Port has agreed a strategic partnership with the UK’s leading energy company Centrica, which has invested into the seed round allowing Centre Port to engage environmental and technical consultancies to begin work on a feasibility study.
Centrica would provide a guaranteed price for the renewable energy produced by the tidal turbines to underpin their construction. It is anticipated some of the off peak renewable energy produced could be used to create green hydrogen to decarbonise the farming and transport sector.
The structure will act as a flood defence scheme against exceptional tides resulting from climate change, which would otherwise damage sensitive habitats and wildlife in The Wash estuary. The turbine sluice gates built within the structure would protect vital farmland, homes and industry against landside flooding and tidal surges across Lincolnshire, Norfolk, and Cambridgeshire which generates a third of the UK’s vegetable production.
A multiple income generating development
It is expected that the scheme would create more than 1,000 jobs during construction and, once completed, attract “significant” employment opportunities in manufacturing, maritime, transport, port operations and green industries to the region. Furthermore, there would be possibilities for recreational activities such as safe sailing/water sports and marinas in the Wash with Centre Port in place.
Centre Port said it would also improve transport links with the connection between south Lincolnshire and north Norfolk by providing a 20 minute alternative to the congested A17 road. The container terminal would have a state-of-the-art rail facility linking into the Skegness–Birmingham Rail line to carry up to 40 percent of the container traffic.
James Sutcliffe, Centre Port CEO, said: “Centre Port is a multiple income generating development where decarbonising the logistics chain is a priority in today’s world. Centre Port provides multiple business opportunities and a lower, zero carbon operation across the import-export chain, while also being 50 percent nearer the East and West Midlands it serves.
“The local environment is seriously at risk from climate change. Our mission is to retain the Wash boundaries, its wildlife and ecology and to minimise climate change impacts that could devastate these sensitive areas.”
Greg McKenna, managing director of Centrica Business Solutions, added: “We’re excited to help Centre Port explore their ambitious plans for The Wash. The project represents one of the largest tidal power schemes anywhere in the world and provide a reliable source of green energy to the UK. The first step is to understand the role such a scheme would play in an area of the country particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change.”
However, the project is likely to run into fierce opposition given the unique nature of The Wash as a diverse, large-scale wetland. Already, nature conservancy groups have roundly condemned the plans.