Government-funded research is under way to explore whether tidal power is a viable means of addressing the region's need to switch to non-carbon-based energy sources.
The Sustainable Development Commission is due to report in September on the viability of tidal power across the UK, with the Severn Estuary being one of its study sites.
Tidal current energy (to be distinguished from tidal barrage technology) involves locating a turbine on the sea bed with a large rotor at its base. The movement of the tide turns the rotor, which generates the electricity. Think windmill with water instead of wind.
A working model is currently in operation off the coast of Plymouth and according to Martin Wright of Marine Current Turbines, "There is at least 10 gigawatts of power available from tidal power in the UK. That's about the same as half of the existing nuclear industry."
The SDC report is due out in September. To get an interim update, click here.