Today’s Guardian carries a substantial feature on the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon scheme and some of the controversies that surround it.
As the paper says there is huge local support for the Swansea Bay region becoming a leader in marine power. However, there are other issues that need to be taken into account, not least the cost of the electricity:
Mandarins from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and the Treasury are poring over the details before deciding whether it should be funded though a ‘contract for difference’ scheme.
The cost of lagoon power – a predicted £168 per MW/hour – is considerably higher than for offshore wind, or the £92.50 for nuclear.
The project has already been dubbed potty and the Daily Mail has predicted it is in line for the chop – the newspaper’s columnist, Christopher Booker, argued that Swansea would produce “easily the most expensive electricity in the world”.
But [Mark] Shorrock, [chief executive of Tidal Lagoon Power] who claims to have already spent £26m, including £7m of his own money, on the scheme, is confident he can defy the sceptics and get the green light from the government.
Although building Swansea Bay will require a high subsidy, Shorrock believes follow-on lagoon projects at Cardiff and Newport could shrink the power price to below £100 per MW/hour.
“Add a single full-scale project to the pilot and the nation’s first two tidal lagoons are, even in their early years, producing cheaper power than most other low-carbon generators in the country,” he said.
“For less than 1% of the UK’s annual subsidy spend, the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon gives you a scalable blueprint for a secure, long-lived power supply that is low in cost and carbon. And you seed a new global industry here in the UK. That’s incredible value.”