Swansea Bay Confirmation Boosts Welsh Economy

The £1bn tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay generates work in Wales and could be the launching pad for a new industry in Britain.

19th June 2015

News last week of the Government’s formal backing for the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon came as a huge sigh of relief for its supporters and businesses across Wales. The project has already been talked about in terms of its ability to boost construction and specifically engineering in Wales but organisations such as Tidal Lagoon Power (TLP) called the UK Government's decision to proceed a "game changer", with hopes already of five larger lagoons on the west coast of the UK.

Together they would contribute 8% of the UK's electricity and be worth £27bn to the UK economy by 2027. But there are hopes the technology and know-how will be exported worldwide – placing Wales right at the centre of major global projects, making the country as Mark Shorrock, chief executive of Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay Plc, said "a Welsh powerhouse".

So what does this talk mean? The backing by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) for the Swansea Bay project is about much more than generating green energy, even though that is significant in its own right. It hopes that the world's first man-made lagoon built specifically to generate electricity will be the start of a new global industry for the UK with Wales at its heart.

If the lagoon is successful, it could be the springboard for Wales becoming a hub for turbine assembly, providing long term jobs. The trade body for the renewable energy industry said at least half the contracts for Swansea would go to British companies. Renewable UK's deputy chief executive Maf Smith said: "This momentous news marks the start of an entirely new industry in Britain, which will lead the world in this innovative ultra-modern technology."

Mr Shorrock added: "The tidal lagoons that follow - at Cardiff, at Newport, elsewhere in the UK and overseas - must each make their own compelling social, environmental and economic case to proceed. But they have a pilot project to guide them and a blossoming technical and industrial network to support them."

TLP still has to negotiate the guaranteed price for the electricity it will generate with the UK government and there are also environmental issues to be assessed. If all goes to plan, work will start next March and the lagoon will be ready in 2018.

There is a lot to be excited about and you can read the full story on the BBC web site and keep track of developments via CEW as we will be working closely with the teams involved.