Illustration of possible configuration of tidal lagoon

First UK Tidal Lagoon Generates Another £100m in Funding

2 minutes read

Equity investment means Swansea renewable project will start later this year

Essentially, the project is to wall off a 9.5 Km section of Swansea bay with a breakwater, then use the large tidal range, of over 10 metres, to generate electricity through a turbine as the tide ebbs and flows. This is quite similar to a conventional hydro-power dam. Otherwise the lagoon remains a place for sea life, watersports, fishing, just like the bay it is part of. France has had one going for 50 years in La Rance, which has just been relicenced for another 50 years. The technology is mature and well-understood, although this is still a new area for Britain.

The Swansea project is hoped to be the first of 6 around the UK. Each one will generate 320 MW of clean, renewable electricity, the same as a medium-sized conventional power station. DECC estimates that tidal lagoon power could account for 8% of the electricity generated in the UK if the six projects go ahead. Mark Shorrock, CEO of Tidal Lagoon (Swansea Bay) plc, says, “It is cost effective on a massive scale.” This is good news for renewables, especially as various other forms of clean power such as onshore wind have been having a hard time. With the estimated cost per MWh of £111, DECC has not yet authorised a strike price but it published a policy paper this month looking on the project favourably so well-informed sources expect it to be around that of offshore wind or £155 per MWh.

The Swansea project was very careful to get all local stakeholders on board and ensure that fishermen, watersports enthusiasts and the local authorities all supported the plan. The visitor’s centre is even going to be a destination for every schoolchild in Wales. The construction of the breakwater is going to be a massive project and will bring plenty of work to the local construction industry.

Andy Field, Head of Communications at Tidal Lagoon Power, says, “What this project will do is create a template for a scalable solution, which will allow the UK to mobilise a new form of renewable energy, and with the help of the government and the supply chain, hopefully export it globally.”

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