The proposed Swansea Bay tidal lagoon – which would cost £1.3 billion to build – has been dismissed by the government because it is believed it would not represent value for money.
In a statement delivered to parliament on June 25th, business and energy secretary Greg Clark explained that in order for the lagoon to meet its ambitions, it would provide approximately 0.15 per cent of the electricity the UK uses annually.
The same power generated by the lagoon over the course of 60 years would, for £1.3 billion, cost about £400 million for offshore wind at today’s prices – which are predicted to be cheaper still in the future. So the cost per unit of power generated annually would be three times that of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station.
And if the full programme of six lagoons came to fruition, the cost would be over £50 billion and two and a half times the cost of Hinkley for a similar output of electricity.
“The inescapable conclusion of an extensive analysis is that however novel and appealing the proposal that has been made is, even with these factors taken into account, the costs that would be incurred by consumers and taxpayers would be so much higher than alternative sources of low carbon power, that it would be irresponsible to enter into a contract with the provider,” Mr Clark went on to say.
The Institute of Mechanical Engineers has issued a statement in response to the news, with head of engineering Dr Jenifer Baxter saying that the government has missed a chance to support manufacturing and innovation in Wales.
She added that the project would have demonstrated “first-of-a-kind technology”, as well as bringing valuable new skills to the fore, with the project paramount for encouraging growth in the region, as well as diversifying industry.
Making further comments, Tim Cornelius – chief executive of Simec Atlantis Energy – put forward his company’s proposal for a similar scheme, this time on the Lancashire coast.
He explained that the project would generate zero carbon sustainable power to the area, while also providing flood protection capabilities for the Wyre Valley. Feasibility studies are now being carried out before the next stage of design, engineering and consent, and construction has now been planned for 2021.
The scheme, according to Mr Cornelius, is the best and most cost-effective way of developing tidal range technology, while also diversifying the energy mix in the UK. It will give Fleetwood a “significant economic boost” and tie in with the government’s Northern Powerhouse strategy.
Speaking to New Civil Engineer, chairman of project promotor Tidal Lagoon (Swansea Bay) Keith Clarke spoke of his frustration at wasting two years of project development. He said that where we are now is a “critique of a government” that isn’t capable of pushing through a renewable energy policy, innovation or an industrial sector strategy.
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