Government likely to back Swansea Bay tidal lagoon

12th January 2017 | Commercial Energy

Plans for a pioneering tidal power lagoon in Swansea Bay are expected to be supported by a government commissioned report. This will potentially unlock a multi-billion pound series of projects which harness electricity from tides around the UK.

Last year it looked like a review of the technology was a way to kill off this ambitious projects. But the independent review by former energy minister Charles Hendry, will be broadly positive towards the £1.3bn prototype plan.

Swansea Bay – pathfinder

Swansea Bay is seen as the pathfinder ahead of five major plants around the country. These include Cardiff, Newport, Colwyn Bay in North Wales, the Cumbrian coast and Bridgwater Bay in Somerset. Collectively they could provide about a tenth of the UK’s electricity needs and help meet carbon targets.

Tidal Lagoon Power has spent £35m on the Swansea project. The plan is to build a U-shaped breakwater across the bay with the incoming and outgoing tide passing through 16 turbines. This should generate enough power to supply 150,000 homes with electricity.

However, the developer and government officials have not agreed a guaranteed price for electricity from the lagoon. Negotiations are continuing on a price which would be higher than that agree for the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station. It would be paid for by a levy on energy bills.

Mark Elborne, president of General Electric UK, which is linking up with Tidal Lagoon Power to provide the generators in the Swansea turbines, said the government should take the long view on the technology.

“On the face of it some might say the cost per megawatt hour for Swansea Bay looks pricey. However, even as a one-off project the fact that it is only partially index-linked means it already comes in cheaper than Hinkley’s£92.50 per MWh. But the point is it cannot and should not be seen as a one-off project, because it’s not,” he said

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