A new �500,000 government fund to develop ideas to generate electricity from the River Severn's tidal power has launched today.

Energy and climate change minister Mike O'Brien and Welsh Assembly Government environment minister Jane Davidson today announced details of the Severn Embryonic Technologies Scheme to further develop proposals like tidal reefs and fences and other potential ideas.

A public consultation is underway on a proposed shortlist of schemes to generate electricity from the power of the tides in the Severn estuary. The shortlist includes a mixture of barrages and lagoon schemes. The government says will consider the progress of embryonic technologies before any decisions are taken on whether to support a Severn tidal power scheme.

Energy and climate change minister, Mike O'Brien said: "This funding will help us understand the potential of these emerging ideas and whether, and how long, we would have to wait for them to come to fruition.

"The Severn estuary has massive potential to help achieve our climate change and renewable energy targets. So far our consultation on a proposed shortlist of five schemes has received over 400 responses.

"As well as this shortlist, I am keen to keep innovative options on the table. That's why we are inviting companies to bid for a share of the funds to accelerate progress."

The closing date for bids is 1 May 2009.