In the 1990s, an American inventor, Peter W Ullman secured patent rights in most jurisdictions around the world for his ideas about exploiting the ebb and flow of the tide to generate electricity. He trades as Tidal Electric Inc.
He was introduced to me by some friends who had invested not insignificant amounts of money and time in helping him with his ideas. They were willing to settle for modest shareholdings in either his US parent company and/or one of his UK registered firms - Tidal Electric Ltd and Tidal Electric Swansea Bay Ltd. Hopes of progress following the publication of the Sustainable Development Commission Report (2007) have so far proved fruitless. The former Secretary of State for Wales, Peter Hain popped up last week in the New Statesman calling for a culture shift to invest in renewable energy. He was as supportive as ever of tidal lagoons, which he claimed could only generate half the electricity of the proposed Seven Barrage. I picked him up in a letter to the New Statesman this week written on behalf of the Tidal Electric Swansea Bay minority shareholders. The SDC recommended a pilot lagoon scheme should be built. A feasibility study has already been done for Swansea Bay.
What can not be in doubt is that the tide is rapidly ebbing for the patentee. With some 20 possible sites around the UK coast where this technology could be used, (not including two or three upstream of the proposed Severn Barrage) should the government intervene now or just wait for the patent(s) to expire?