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World’s largest power-generating lagoon planned for Swansea Bay

Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon

Swansea Bay tidal lagoon project (Tidal Lagoon Power). Photograph: Tidal Lagoon Power


Powered by article titled “World’s largest power-generating lagoon planned for Swansea Bay” was written by Terry Macalister, energy editor, for The Guardian on Thursday 6th February 2014 18.33 UTC

A £12bn scheme to build a series of tidal energy plants in Britain will be kickstarted on Friday as a planning application is submitted for the world’s largest power-generating lagoon in South Wales.

The promoters want to follow up an initial £850m project for Swansea Bay with four even larger lagoons with a capacity of 7,300MW – enough to meet 10% of the UK’s electricity needs.

Tidal Lagoon Power has put in a development consent order under the Planning Act 2008, but must convince the government to provide subsidies of £156 per MW/h – even more than that going to offshore wind farms.

The project must also overcome scepticism about tidal power following the collapse of the much-larger Severn Barrage power generator in the same region.

“Our intention is to supply 10% of the UK’s domestic electricity by building at least five full-scale tidal lagoons in UK waters by 2023, before the UK sees any generation from new nuclear,” said Mark Shorrock, chief executive of Tidal Lagoon Power, who has launched successful wind and solar schemes.

The project, which envisages an area of 11.5 sq km cordoned off by a breakwater, would have an installed capacity of 320MW with an annual output of 420GW/h and a design life of 120 years.

A 9.5km sea wall up to 20m high would need to be built, but Shorrock says only a little over half of this wall would be visible from the land at low tide, and barely a few metres showing at high tide.

Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon

Planners hope that the £850m Swansea Bay lagoon will also become a centre for sailing and other recreation.

The power will be generated as the incoming and outgoing tides – the daily equivalent of 100,000 Olympic swimming pools worth of water – pass through turbines.

Shorrock it was essential to build more than one tidal lagoon: “Economies of scale bring immediate advantage. A second lagoon will require a lower level of support than offshore wind, for a renewable power supply that is both long-lived and certain.

“A third lagoon will be competitive with the support received by new nuclear, but comes without the decommissioning costs and safety concerns,” he added.

The second project would cost £2.3bn and be based in Colwyn Bay, with a third costing £4bn located in the upper Severn estuary. Two more at a cost of £4.5bn would follow, on as-yet-unspecified sites.

Shorrock, who has already constructed 280MW of wind and solar plants, says he has potential financial backing from the Macquarie Group’s infrastructure funds and would like to bring in UK pension funds as investors.

He says the projects would be far cheaper and more productive than the £30bn Severn Barrage scheme which was first turned down by the government in 2010 amid huge opposition from many environmentalists.


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