Tidal Lagoon Backing

The Swansea Tidal Lagoon is in the news, everyone has a view despite the backing of the Hendry Review. Sion Barry of the Western Mail summarised the story last week.

Friday 20th January 2017

Plans for the £1.3bn Swansea Bay tidal lagoon project, which would be a world first in renewable technology, is being recommended by a UK Government backed independent review.

Former Energy Minister Charles Hendry will publish his findings into the proposed project off the coast of Swansea, saying that it should be the first in a series of larger lagoons around the UK coast - creating a new £15bn industry in tidal energy.

However, the Swansea project, which could create more than 1,200 jobs during its construction, will still need a marine licence from Natural Resources Wales, but also an agreed green subsidy for the UK Government - a so called strike price - to make energy generation commercially viable.

How the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon will work, how many jobs it will create and how it will look 

That could be confirmed in the Budget in the spring.

The backers of the project, Tidal Lagoon Power, are seeking a strike price of just over £89 per megawatt hour for energy produced by the lagoon over 90 years.

It would generate energy enough to power 150,000 homes.

The lagoon would involve a U-shaped breakwater built out from the coast, with a bank of turbines turned by water which would harness the rise and fall of the tides to generate renewable electricity.

Cut away view of a turbine installation in the planned Swansea Bay tidal lagoon.

The lagoon would generate clean tidal energy from its turbines, which would be assembled in Port Talbot, for 120 years.

If a strike price and a marine licence is agreed work on the project could start next year. Energy could be generated from the project in the early 2020s.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4, Mr Hendry said the lagoon, and further planned larger ones, including those off the coast of Cardiff and Newport, would be a "world first." and create a viable, secure and long-term new energy supply for the UK.

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He added: "We know it absolutely works,"If you look at the cost spread out over the entire lifetime - 120 years for the project - it comes out at about 30p per household for the next 30 years. That's less than a pint of milk.

"That's where I think we can start a new industry and we can do it at an affordable cost to consumers.

2017 is crunch time for projects that promise to transform the Welsh economy

"One of the great advantages is it completely predictable for all time to come - we know exactly when the spring tides and leap tides are going to be every single day for the rest of time."

At a glance

  • Tidal lagoons could create a new £15bn industry for Wales and the UK.
  • The Swansea Bay tidal lagoon would power more than 150,000 homes.
  • The project still needs a green subsidy from the UK Government and a marine licence to proceed.

Greenpeace UK's Chief Scientist Doug Parr said "Tidal Lagoon Energy is the most reliable source of renewable energy for the UK and the Swansea Bay project is an opportunity to generate clean power from the tides".

He said: "Up to now, cost has been considered a barrier but the Hendry report suggests that tidal lagoons can potentially play a cost-effective role in the UK energy mix.

"And the Government should get on with it because it could be the first of a wave of tidal lagoons across the UK, and even internationally. We can lead the world in providing a new renewable innovation to meet our clean energy needs.

"If Swansea is successful it could prove the investment case for further major projects that could potentially generate a significant chunk of the UK's electricity needs, and help towards meeting our carbon targets, whilst creating thousands of new infrastructure jobs too."

But some conservation groups have raised concerns about going ahead with a series of lagoons before the impacts of the Swansea scheme on wildlife are assessed.

Business reaction

Policy Manager David Morgan of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in Wales said: "The support for the Swansea Tidal Lagoon from the Hendry review is very good news for Wales, and has the potential to generate an entirely new multi-million-pound industry bringing additional investment and creating jobs, as well as helping ensure certainty of energy supply.

"We urge the UK Government to work with Welsh Government and other stakeholders to deliver this project as soon as possible.

"As we made clear in the RICS Wales Manifesto, this kind of infrastructure investment is key to growing the Welsh economy, and it is essential that the policy-makers move forward quickly on other major projects too.

"The availability of construction skills remains a key concern – particularly in light of competition from other major projects such as HS2 rail, and Hinkley Point.

Why it's too soon to know what impact Hinkley Point will have on Welsh jobs and the economy 

"Government, industry and the education sector must continue to work together to ensure that Wales can maximise opportunities like the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon to their absolute potential.”

Liz Maher, president of the South Wales Chamber of Commerce, said: "We are delighted that the Hendry Review is backing the Tidal Lagoon proposed for Swansea Bay.
"The Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon has the potential to significantly impact the economy of South Wales and the Chamber of Commerce is wholeheartedly behind the project.
"We anticipate construction jobs being created while building the lagoon, manufacturing jobs around the turbines and research and development opportunities for Welsh universities.

" One of the most exciting parts of the project is that skills will be developed in Wales that will help the industry grow beyond this first lagoon, keeping Wales at the heart of green technology development for decades to come.
"The supply chain opportunities for Welsh businesses provided by this new industry are substantial and the Chamber of Commerce, with our experience of connecting businesses and supporting international trade, is well placed to ensure this project is a success for the whole of Wales."

Leader of Swansea council

Leader of Swansea council, Rob Stewart said: "This is a game changing moment for Swansea because the Tidal Lagoon project has the power to improve lives and significantly boost the city’s economic prosperity.

"This project, combined with the Swansea Bay City Region’s City Deal bid to the UK Government, would be worth close to £3bn to the regional economy.

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“I said when I took over as Leader two years ago  I’d create new partnerships to deliver major investment into Swansea, and we’re now starting to reap the rewards of all the hard work that’s been taking place behind the scenes for the benefit of Swansea residents.

“2017 was always going to be the year of delivery when the re-building of Swansea really gets started. We’re still only two weeks into the New Year, so this announcement augurs well for the signing of the City Deal and significant progress for other major Swansea regeneration schemes in coming months.

“Our plans aren’t just pretty pictures – they’re viable, deliverable projects that will benefit local families, boost skills and create new opportunities.”

Haf Elgar, Acting Director of Friends of the Earth Cymru, said: “This is welcome news – a Tidal Lagoon in Swansea Bay could play a significant role in generating clean energy in Wales, and will be an important test of this exciting new power source but UK government mustn’t ignore solar and wind investment.

“Tidal lagoons could have a big future; however, it is crucial that any potential impacts on wildlife and the wider environment are properly considered and addressed before any new developments are given the go-ahead.

“New clean energy sources are important – but it is crucial that the government also ensures that adequate investment is targeted right now in low cost, renewable technologies, like solar and wind, that already generate a quarter of UK power.”