Swansea Tidal Lagoon – an uncertain fate

25th October 2016 | Commercial Energy

The Swansea Tidal Lagoon, a huge tidal energy project, stalled earlier this year after ministers were said to have balked at the extent of subsidies its developers were seeking. Although the Swansea scheme is privately-funded, lead developer Tidal Lagoon Power is pursuing an agreement with the UK Government for a financial package to support its much larger programme of up to six full-scale tidal lagoon power projects around the UK coast.

The project would involve a five-mile causeway being built out to sea and comprises 16 turbines which are anticipated to provide power for 120,000 homes for 120 years.

In February 2016, the government launched review to look into the case for tidal lagoon energy across the UK. Since then, concerns about the viability for the Swansea Tidal Lagoon project have been raised. A study commissioned by the Welsh Government identified a skills gap and claims that more than 2.200 workers would be needed to build the proposed project. The study estimates that Wales only has around half of the manufacturing capability required to complete the scheme, which will face competitions from other large projects such as HS2 and Hinkley Point C.

That said, Swansea’s proponents believe the skills shortage can be overcome by working in partnership with Welsh industry, education and the government to ensure the project goes ahead. Also, Tidal Lagoon Power has awarded GE and Andritz a £200m contract for turbine assembly and manufacturing works, which it wants to see carried out at a plant in the Swansea Bay area.

Should the Swansea Tidal Lagoon project go ahead, it could be the game change for green energy which many, including environmentalists have been waiting for. Lisa Jenkins, Tidal Lagoon Power’s Media Advisor (Wales), says, “Beyond this, we aim to develop, construct and operate a fleet of lagoons to meet up to 8% of UK electricity demand. This fleet will exploit the opportunities that tidal lagoons offer for social, economic and environmental transformation and we will progress projects that contribute positively in each area.”

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