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Think big to be the envy of the world again

A recent Belfast Telegraph article (Comment, August 19) again raised the issue of tidal power from the Strangford Lough Narrows.

The existing £20m tidal generator project was and still is an expensive experiment and like wind turbines on a windless day, it too produces zero watts at tidal slackwater.

The trouble with both systems is that power stations must always have the capacity to compensate for these shortfalls and it should be noted that they are still the undisputed cost-effective energy sources.

A toll bridge built across The Narrows, with much larger generators built into the supports, would not only move beyond the eco energy experiment, but would also provide social, commercial and tourism benefits.

The difference, compared to the existing generator at Strangford, is that the impediment of a bridge support base would accelerate the water flow to power horizontal paddle wheels and hence produce much greater output.

'Aha,' you say, 'What about the slack water periods?' During off-peak demands, sea water could be pumped up to a nearby high ground catchment and released as required to power a supplementary land-based generator and provide continuity of supply.

Heath Robinson, maybe. But perhaps it is time to look beyond the soda farl and spud bread and think Titanic again (without the iceberg).

Come on, Ulster. Think big.

We could be the envy of the world making better use of this tidal jewel.

RAYMOND MULHOLLAND

Holywood, Co Down

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