The tidal range offers a solution to one of the greatest challenges facing society. It is also an infrastructural investment opportunity, says Stuart Murphy, founder of TPGen24
The time for new year’s resolutions is almost upon us and I think the civils, infrastructure and utilities sectors have a huge opportunity if they can collectively commit to overcoming one of the greatest challenges currently facing society: achieving a 100% green baseline.
Unfortunately, we are still a long way off this goal and it is all down to the way we have invested in renewable infrastructure over the past three decades.
Putting this in context, the fuel and energy crises of autumn 2021, conveniently swept under the carpet ahead of COP26, have not gone away. These events perfectly demonstrated our over-reliance on renewable systems which need specific, optimal weather conditions to operate the large amounts of wind, and to a lesser extent, solar, we’ve invested in. This has compromised our energy needs and more importantly our security.
When the wind stops blowing and the sun disappears, we have no choice but to fall back on the hugely damaging fossil fuels or expensive imports
One only has to look at the official energy dashboard to see that, when the wind stops blowing and the sun disappears, we have no choice but to fall back on the hugely damaging fossil fuels or expensive imports. It is hardly a positive advert for a country aspiring to 100% renewable energy by 2050.
On our current course, this is only set to continue unless we undertake a massive shift in focus and concentrate on the one resource which can achieve baseline energy: tidal.
As the inventor of the first 24/7 tidal range system, specifically designed to achieve baseline generation, I would like 2022 to be the year this woefully under-explored resource makes it to the top of the policy and boardroom agenda.
It is high time we understood the integral role that tidal range can play in strengthening our energy infrastructure, as the only truly reliable renewable resource available to us in the UK. Not only will it have the power to green the grid, but it will also make us energy self-sufficient and no longer beholden to other foreign governments to plug the gaps at a high economic, and sometimes moral, cost.
It will also help to unlock the potential of hydrogen, one of the most exciting new innovations of my lifetime. It is a growing sector, but still in its infancy and there is a huge mountain to overcome in terms of capture and scalability.
Rapidly growing tidal and hydrogen sectors can, and will, provide more jobs, business growth, local investment, urban renewal and many other socio-economic benefits
The tidal range could offer the solution as the offshore, off-grid power source for production plants, with the tidal generation system in-built with ready-made access to the plentiful, virgin raw-material required for hydrogen capture: seawater. It’s an early stage idea, but one which could make the industry economically viable sooner, with no impact on baseline capacity.
In turn, this will help to phase out petrol as a fuel for vehicle operations at a greater pace, beyond the consumer fleet, to decarbonise heavy vehicles and machinery.
All in all it represents a big business opportunity for UK construction plc, who should be at the very heart of this discussion. Rapidly growing tidal and hydrogen sectors can, and will, provide more jobs, business growth, local investment, urban renewal and many other socio-economic benefits.
Further, they will support other industries, sparking wider infrastructure programmes of more homes, leading to new transport links and utility deployment. The possibilities are almost endless. We just need to start realising them.
So, when readers of Building are preparing to make their business resolutions for 2022, I urge them to think carefully about green baseline and clean fuel, and the role that the tidal range and hydrogen have to play in the achievement of both.
Not only will this kick-start a much needed infrastructural investment programme, it will also have the added benefit of protecting the earth and ensuring that it is still habitable for future generations. After all… there is no planet B.
Stuart Murphy is founder of TPGen24