Government refuses to fund Swansea Bay tidal lagoon project

The government will not fund Tidal Lagoon Power’s proposed tidal energy plans in Swansea despite a government report advocating exploratory pathfinder projects.

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Speaking in parliament, business secretary Greg Clark said six tidal lagoon projects proposed by TLP ‘do not meet the requirements for value for money’.

“Taking all the costs together, I have been advised by analysts that, by 2050, the proposal that has been made – which would generate around 30TWh per year of electricity – could cost up to £20bn more to produce compared to generating that same electricity through a mix of offshore wind and nuclear, once financing, operating, and system costs have been taken into account,” he said. “That could cost the average British household consumer up to an additional £700 between 2031 and 2050, or the equivalent of £15,000 for every household in Wales.”

TLP’s proposed proof of concept in Swansea would have seen a 320MW facility built with 16 turbines built by General Electric and Andritz Hydro. Following Swansea, the company would have scaled-up at sites located in Cardiff, Newport, West Cumbria, Colwyn Bay, and Bridgwater Bay.

In his January 2017 report, Charles Hendry said tidal lagoons can play a cost effective role in the UK’s energy mix, adding that moves should be made ‘as swiftly as possible’ to a pathfinder project.

According to Clark, the Hendry Review found also that a programme of six lagoons would cost over £50bn and be 2.5 times the cost of Hinkley Point C to generate a similar output of electricity.

“Enough offshore wind to provide the same generation as a programme of lagoons is estimated to cost at least £31.5bn less to build,” he said. “In terms of energy reliability, the generation of electricity would be variable rather than constant with a load factor of 19 per cent compared to around 50 per cent for offshore wind and 90 per cent for nuclear.”

According to the assessment commissioned by BEIS, the Swansea Bay proposal would not provide value in relation to subsequent construction costs, nor would it deliver export potential.

Commenting on yesterday’s announcement, Mark Shorrock, founder and chief executive, TLP said: “[Clark] says Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon will cost three times nuclear. This is incorrect. Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon will add just 30 pence to consumers’ bills whereas Hinkley Point C will add £12 or more to bills.

“The offer to the UK government for Swansea is at the same price as nuclear for a small pathfinder which as he acknowledges is 0.15 per cent of the UK’s energy requirements. The UK’s second proposed tidal lagoon at Cardiff would be 88 times less expensive for consumers than Hinkley. Furthermore, the £1.3bn build cost of Swansea is privately funded. It is not a cost to consumers as suggested by Mr Clark.

“This is a vote of no interest in Wales, no confidence in British manufacturing and no care for the planet.  Justified through a faux concern for consumers who would readily invest in a British tidal power industry for today and for future generations.”

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