Ecotricity electricity chief unveils plans for two new 380-MW tidal lagoon power projects in Solway Firth

Schematic of Solway Firth tidal-lagoon power project.
Schematic of Solway Firth tidal-lagoon power project.

Renewable electricity supplier Ecotricity has presented the Brit-Govt with two alternative tidal lagoon power proposals, ahead of a joint select committee review of the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon project

The government has clearly indicated it felt unable to support the Swansea project to date, due to its excessive cost. 

The two new Ecotricity plans are both in the Solway Firth, one on the English side of the border and the other on the Scottish side.

The two proposed Solway Firth tidal lagoons would each have a generating capacity of 380-MW and an annual output of 600-GW/h and would cost £650 million to build.

Both projects would generate as much electricity as the Swansea Bay proposal, but at half the cost to build. That means they can make electricity for half the cost.

The superior economics of these proposals are delivered by siting the lagoons offshore instead of onshore. Offshore tidal lagoons cost less to build, operate more efficiently and have significantly less environmental impact.

Ecotricity shared this information with former energy minister Charles Hendry as he drafted his independent review of tidal lagoons, nearly two years ago, but the concept of offshore and its inherent advantages had no mention in the final report. 

Hendry instead focused on the need to move swiftly to support the Swansea scheme despite its incredible asking price.

Ecotricity have partnered with Tidal Electric – the originators of the tidal lagoon concept, to develop the Solway sites; and have told the government that they are ready to take part in a competitive process, to ensure value for public money. 

Dale Vince
Dale Vince

Dale Vince, founder of Ecotricity, said: “The government has done well to resist the last couple of years of intense lobbying pressure from backers of the Swansea scheme, there was never a case for paying that much or for moving too quickly to allow for proper competition.

“In the last year the asking price for the Swansea project appears to have dropped considerably (by up to half), that’s a valuable use of time by the government. But there’s more to go. 

“The reasons cited by Hendry to move quickly to support this expensive first tidal lagoon project (Swansea) have all fallen away. The case for an open competitive process, to kick start this nascent industry and ensure value for public money, remains compelling.  

“Offshore wind is a great example of the process, it has been a tremendous success for the government. Starting out at almost twice the price of onshore wind it has fallen in price by 50% in the last three years. This same competitive process could be used to bring new tidal projects forward.

“The projects we have unveiled today are ready to take part in a proper process. There is no need to rush; done properly tidal lagoons could play a big part in our future energy mix, and in lowering our energy bills. There are other companies and other projects that would take part in a proper process.”

10 May 2018

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