Using the predictable daily motion of the tides, the Swansea Bay project will provide clean, home-grown electricity 14 hours a day for 120 years, and will only require Government support for an initial 35 years – less than a third of its lifespan. The next hurdle for Tidal Lagoon Power will be to secure this support in the form of a “Contract for Difference” to guarantee the price of the electricity produced for this initial period.
When fully constructed, the tidal lagoon will have an installed capacity of 320 megawatts which is enough to generate renewable electricity to power 155,000 homes. Not only could the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon reduce carbon emissions by 236,000 tonnes each year but the construction of this “first of a kind” project could be the critical step to kick-starting a tidal lagoon industry. Six potential lagoon locations have been identified around the UK which combined could provide up to 8% of the UK’s electricity and add up to £27 billion cumulatively to the UK GDP by 2027.
RenewableUK’s Deputy Chief Executive, Maf Smith, said: “This momentous news marks the start of an entirely new industry in Britain, which will lead the world in this innovative ultra-modern technology. As a maritime nation, we are perfectly placed to take advantage of the powerful tides surging around our coasts every day, which have great potential to generate increasingly significant quantities of renewable electricity.
From its Welsh office, Natural Power most recently completed pre-construction coastal bird surveys, and has been commissioned to deliver a desk-based review of wading bird numbers to inform mitigation proposals. The marine mammal team has also been supporting Tidal Lagoon Power during the consent process including conducting risk assessments and consulting with Natural Resources Wales.
Ruth De Silva, Senior Marine Ecologist at Natural Power, said: “The wave and tidal industries have had a tough time recently. With other projects being forced to scale back, there is a degree of uncertainty and nervousness, so it’s very encouraging to have the support of the UK Government here.”
The announcement is a major step towards harnessing this untapped energy source on an unprecedented scale, providing clean electricity to the nation for generations to come. It will also provide a massive economic boost with new jobs, economic development and tourism opportunities for the region at the heart of the project.