Evaluating the Costs and Benefits of Tidal Range Energy Generation

  • Tara Hooper

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Tidal barrages could contribute to mitigating climate change, but their deployment is not without potential welfare costs attributable to the degradation of ecosystem services. Economic valuation of natural resources provides a common metric for quantifying the disparate costs and benefits of barrage construction in a way that provides transparency when trade-offs are considered. However, very little is currently known about the value of environmental impacts associated with tidal barrages.Using the Taw Torridge estuary in North Devon as a case study, this research proposes an Environmental Benefits Assessment methodology that supports application of the ecosystem services concept to local environmental impact appraisal, and facilitates economic valuation. This methodology is novel in that it evaluates benefits, as opposed to services, and considers a comprehensive suite of benefits in a single assessment: an approach rarely attempted in practice, but essential if ecosystem services approaches are to fully support resource management needs.The subsequent empirical valuation uses stated preference techniques to examine the different ways people use and value the estuary ecosystem, determine how strongly they rank different costs and benefits of tidal barrages, and elicit willingness to pay (WTP) to reduce the habitat loss resulting from a tidal barrage development. The study provides the first empirical valuation of UK estuarine mudflats, but makes a further contribution to the environmental economics discipline by deploying both contingent valuation and choice experiment methods. Additionally, a novel application of the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) is used to examine the consistency of WTP with expressed preferences for habitat protection in relation to other barrage attributes. The alternative stated preference techniques result in comparable WTP values and the importance attached to habitat loss (as measured by the AHP) is strongly associated with WTP and also with its scope sensitivity, indicating that WTP is largely driven by environmental preferences.
Date of Award31 Mar 2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorPhilip Cooper (Supervisor) & Alistair Hunt (Supervisor)


  • Tidal barrages
  • Ecosystem services

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