Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Severn Barrage Payback Less Than Six Months

When I saw that headline in Building Talk, I had to force myself to not spin into a hysterical laughing fit; the UK's record at large scale civil engineering projects is not, well, exactly what you could define as top notch. But, reading the article, it does not mean payback in the usual ROI sense of things; what they are claiming is that the carbon costs incurred during construction will be paid for in just six months of operation.

Now that is an equally strong claim, and one that I find a little difficult to believe; but I'm no expert in these things, and if the barrage does eventually produce something like 5% of the UK's entire power requirements, then maybe they are correct.

We may have to wait more than a few years before the actual benefits, both in terms of ROI and in terms of carbon saved are realised, however, as the downside to the Severn Barrage concept is almost certainly going to be the environmental arguments that will inevitably hold the project up for another decade or so before construction even begins.

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