Britain should go ahead with plans to build what would be the world’s first tidal lagoon renewable power project, according to a new government commissioned review led by former UK Energy Minister Charles Hendry.
Developer Tidal Lagoon Power has proposed starting building the £1.3 billion renewable energy project in South Wales in 2018. It said it would take four years to complete.
The government asked Hendry to carry out the review to see whether the technology could be economically viable in Britain.
The project involves building a six-mile long sea wall in Swansea Bay to capture tidal power. When the tide drops, the difference between water levels inside and outside the sea-wall causes water to pass through turbines to produce electricity. Similarly, when the tide rises, power would be generated as water fills the lagoon.
While tidal changes have been harnessed before to generate power, mostly deploying a barrage across a stretch of water, this would be the first to enclose it, effectively creating a man-made lagoon.
Hendry said the 320-megawatt project could act as a template for six much larger projects in England and Wales. If all seven projects were built they could have a total capacity of 17.6 gigawatts, equivalent to around 30% of the country’s current electricity capacity.
Tidal Lagoon Power forecast its tidal energy will cost less than the electricity from the new £18 billion Hinkley Point C nuclear power station – and that its lagoons will also last 120 years.
Juliet Davenport is Chief Executive and founder of 100% renewable electricity company Good Energy – which was one of the first investors in Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon.
She said: “By kicking off a British tidal lagoon industry we are presenting the world with another awesome low carbon option, and it’s British know-how that will be called upon should other countries look to take up that option.
“Tidal lagoons are a brilliant way for Britain to diversify its energy mix and keep the lights on. They will also create a whole new industry and thousands of jobs as well.”
“Britain is leading the world in the development of tidal stream, tidal lagoon and tidal barrage power and the conclusions of this paper justify our recently announced ambitions to develop large scale tidal barrage and lagoon projects in the future alongside our extensive tidal stream portfolio.
“Tidal power is predictable and can generate renewable electricity close to urban centres with negligible emissions, visual impact and noise.
“Tidal barrage and lagoon projects, while also contributing to water defence strategies, will generate significant local and national economic benefits. The case to build an industrial powerhouse, leveraging Britain’s world leading position in the tidal energy sector is compelling.
“The most important role for tidal barrages and lagoons in Britain is to act as utility-scale grid storage facilities to support deeper penetration of renewables while contribute to security of supply and driving down consumer costs.”