The development company behind the proposed Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon has welcomed comments by Peter Hain, the Labour MP for Neath, that the UK’s natural renewable energy resources need to be better harnessed.
The comments come as industry experts say that the proposed Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon could be the first step towards a network of coastal lagoons that would significantly contribute to Britain’s expanding energy needs as detailed in the Government’s Energy Bill.
Dr Simon Boxall of the University of Southampton, National Oceanography Centre says that UK tidal power is potentially the most reliable and least disruptive of all renewable energy resources:
“Tidal power is considered by many as a new and, as yet, untested source of energy, but it is in fact one that has been used to great effect across Europe since the 7th Century. The proposed Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon will make use of our vast tidal range in generating sufficient electricity to supply all of the domestic needs of the growing city of Swansea. The tide can be predicted over a million years in advance and the lagoon will generate power for at least 70% of the day. The wonderful thing about the tide is that when it is slack water (not generating power) in one location, just 50 miles down the coast the tide will be in full flood or ebb feeding energy into the National Grid 24 hours a day. The impact of the lagoon is an improved habitat for both wildlife and the local population, all whilst utilizing a free and very traditional source of power. What’s more, we benefit from a big smile, a cleaner planet and cheaper electricity – now that can’t be all bad.”
The Severn Estuary has the potential to produce 17,000GWh of electricity per year, equivalent to supplying around 3.7 million UK homes.
With Wales needing to source twice the amount of electricity that we currently use from renewables by 2025 and 4GW of this from marine energy, the proposed Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon could offer a renewable power source at significant scale boosting energy security at lower costs than alternative power sources can provide.
The UK currently imports 65% of energy needs in diverse forms. The majority of fossil fuel supplies come from up to 40 countries, all of which are vulnerable to continued geopolitical events beyond our control.
Alex Herbert, Head of Planning for Tidal Lagoon Power Limited, the development company behind the proposed Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon explains:
“The UK has a political imperative to assure security of supply. Concurrent to that, we have a legally binding commitment to deliver 15% of our energy from renewables by 2020. We currently achieve just 5% from renewable sources.”
“Given that the UK has the second largest tidal range in the world with most of that range adjacent to major cities: Liverpool, Manchester, Bristol, Cardiff, Swansea and London, tidal lagoons should form a significant part of future energy mix and there is the opportunity to develop this first-of-kind power plant in the UK. That’s why we believe that a path of generating cost effective, predictable and fully renewable power from the tidal range in Welsh and UK waters has now been found and we are now progressing an application to consent the first large scale tidal lagoon in Europe and, in parallel, the necessary research, development and optimisation activities to adapt existing marine and hydro technology to a tidal environment.”
“The UK is blessed with the second highest tidal range in the world and best wind resource in Europe, yet the percentage of renewables in our energy mix is the third lowest in Europe.”