For tidal power barrages, a breast-shot water wheel, with a hydraulic transmission, has significant advantages over a conventional Kaplan turbine. It is better suited to combined operations with pumping that maintain the tidal range upstream of the barrage (important in reducing the environmental impact), and is much less harmful to fish. It also does not require tapered entry and exit ducts, making the barrage much smaller and lighter, so that it can conveniently be built in steel. For the case of the Severn Estuary, UK, it is shown that a barrage at Porlock would generate an annual average power of 4 GW (i.e. 35 TWh yr−1), maintain the existing tidal ranges upstream of it and reduce the tidal ranges downstream of it by only about 10 %. The weight of steel required, in relation to the annual average power generated, compares very favourably with a recent offshore wind farm.