Swansea Tidal Power Lagoon given a new lease of life

Undated handout image issued by Tidal Lagoon Power of a visualisation of the wall at Swansea Bay, as a review commissioned by the Government into the potential for tidal lagoon energy in the UK is to be published. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday January 12, 2017. If the independent review, conducted by former energy minister Charles Hendry, backs the technology, it could provide a boost to a "world first" project to harness the power of the tides in the Severn Estuary. See PA story ENERGY Lagoons. Photo credit should read: Tidal Lagoon Power/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.

By Hefin Rees Edwards

Initial plans for the tidal power project were floated as early as 2003 and development has taken over a decade since. However, in 2018 the UK government threw out the plans saying that the cost for the taxpayer was too high.

This went against the recommendation by the Charles Hendry report, published in 2017, which noted that the project was affordable, with the cost of the project taken over its full lifespan of 120 years totalling around 30 pence per household, less than a pint of milk.

After hearing news of the cancellation, many Welsh MP’s and AM’s directed large their anger towards the Secretary of State for Wales, Alun Cairns, with some pressure on him to resign.

The £1.3 billion lagoon was viewed as a ‘pathfinder’ project for the development of a new green industry, and would have potentially lead to the development of five more lagoon tidal projects in the UK, including two by Cardiff and Newport

However, recent news has reinstalled hope that the lagoon will see the light of day. The company behind the venture, Tidal Powel plc, have stated that there is significant interest from private companies in buying electricity generated from the lagoon.

The aim for the project now is to secure enough interested parties to sign Purchase Power Agreements (PPA’s) by 2020 in order for construction to start, with the project set to begin producing power by the year 2024/25.

The ambition to build the Lagoon is driven in part by the cancellation of several nuclear power plants which have resulted in a “huge hole left in our long-term energy demands” according Chris Nutt, the development manager at Tidal Power.

Nutt further states the solution is to “saturate the UK coastline with offshore wind or invest in ground-breaking solutions like Swansea Bay”.

The Lagoon could provide green, clean energy for up to 150,000 homes and revitalise the local economy according to the Charles Hendry report.

The recent news from Tidal Power will be welcomed by many in Wales, especially in the light recent high-profile cases of infrastructure projects being halted or cancelled such as the Wylfa B plant in Anglesey, or the electrification of the railway line between Swansea and Cardiff.

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