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Government launches tidal lagoons review

Words: Laura Edgar

The government has announced an independent review into the feasibility and practicality of tidal lagoon energy in the UK.

The review, said the government, will look at the technology involved in tidal lagoons to improve its understanding of how they could contribute to the future of the UK’s energy mix in the most cost-effective way.

The review begins this spring and aims to establish an evidence base to ensure tht all decisions made regarding tidal lagoon energy are in “the best interests of the UK”.

The government expects the proposed developer of Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon – Tidal Lagoon Power – to take part in the review, along with other industry stakeholders.

Discussions about Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon will continue.

Energy minister Lord Bourne said: “Tidal lagoons on this scale are an exciting, but as yet an untested technology. I want to better understand whether tidal lagoons can be cost effective, and what their impact on bills will be - both today and in the longer term.

“This review will help give us that clarity so we can determine what role tidal lagoons could have as part of our plans to provide secure, clean and affordable energy for families and businesses across the country.”

The review will consider:

  • An assessment of whether, and in what circumstances, tidal lagoons could play a cost-effective role as part of the UK energy mix;

  • The potential scale of opportunity in the UK and internationally, including supply chain opportunities;

  • A range of possible structures for financing tidal lagoons;

  • Different sizes of projects as the first of a kind; and

  • Whether a competitive framework could be put in place for the delivery of tidal lagoon projects.

Although Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay has welcomed the government’s review, it said it “must not be a substitute for action”.

Mark Shorrock, chief executive, said: “This is a huge step from the UK Government and a clear signal that it sees potential advantage for the UK energy consumer in very long-dated tidal energy infrastructure assets.

“There is vast potential for tidal lagoon power to provide cheap long-term renewable energy at scale and to be taken formally into national policy.

“We welcome the opportunity to put the case for a major programme of cost-effective power. This is a homegrown source of power, the natural way to power our nation. We have built a supply chain which puts UK companies at the forefront of a new world-leading technology.”

Shorrock also expressed concern about the continuing delay in considering the project.

“A welcome review should not be a substitute for action. There is a serious and growing gap of electricity generation capacity. We need 16 new large-scale power stations. The cheapest new power stations will be tidal lagoons, roof-top solar power and gas-fired power stations. We need all three, and quickly. And when the nuclear stations are ready, we will probably need them too, but their time scales are more uncertain.

“We have made a value-for-money proposition to government. There is no reason not to press on with Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon negotiations.”

The review announcement follows Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron’s assertion at the party’s Welsh party conference that Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon “has to go ahead”.

Farron told the conference the scheme would provide “hundreds of jobs and supply energy for 120 years”.

It would, he continued, “be utter madness” for the government to “pull further investment” from the renewable sector, which generates economic growth and jobs.

Read more about this here.

Image credit | Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay