Tidal Lagoon Power Ltd (TLP) today took a major step towards realising one of the UK’s most game-changing infrastructure projects: the world’s first tidal lagoon power plant.
After three years of feasibility work and impact assessments, TLP submitted its application1 – which runs to 5000 pages – for a Development Consent Order (DCO) under the Planning Act 2008.
Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon would be the largest tidal power plant in the world. As a project of national significance, the application, which has been developed through extensive consultation in Swansea Bay, will now be reviewed by the Planning Inspectorate before public examination, and then determination by the Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change.
The project would see a 9.5 km long sea wall built to capture enough renewable energy from incoming and outgoing tides to power over 120,000 homes for 120 years. It aims to source at least 65% of content in the UK, kick-starting a new manufacturing industry and future export market.
Mark Shorrock, CEO of Tidal Lagoon Power, said that the submission of the application marks a turning point in the development of the UK’s tidal resource.
“Until now, tidal energy has been heavily promoted by governments and environmentalists as an intuitive source of clean and reliable energy for our island nation, but the business response has focused on relatively small-scale tidal stream devices. The UK has the second highest tidal range in the world and today we are submitting an application for a development that will prove that this resource can be harnessed in a way that makes economic, environmental and social sense. Tidal lagoons offer renewable energy at nuclear scale and thus the investment of hundreds of millions of pounds in UK industries and coastal communities.
“Our intention is to supply 10% of the UK’s domestic electricity by building at least five full-scale tidal lagoons in UK waters by 2023, before the UK sees any generation from new nuclear. Economies of scale bring immediate advantage. A second lagoon will require a lower level of support than offshore wind, for a renewable power supply that is both long-lived and certain. A third lagoon will be competitive with the support received by new nuclear, but comes without the decommissioning costs and safety concerns.
“Had we invested in tidal lagoons in the 1980s, by now, and into the next century, we would be generating cheaper power than any other form of supply.”
The Cheltenham-based company has spent three years and many millions in developing its proof-of-concept project, alongside a consortium of internationally-renowned industrial businesses including Atkins, Costain, GE, Alstom, Andritz and Voith. It has the commitment of Macquarie, the infrastructure giant, to lead the capital financing of the project itself.
David Tonkin, Atkins CEO for UK and Europe, said: “Energy security is a pressing global challenge and we need to find increasingly smart solutions to meet our current and future needs. The tidal lagoon concept represents a bold new addition to the energy mix. It is a great example of how innovative engineering could be used to harness our natural resources and provide clean, sustainable and predictable power for thousands of homes. Through our long involvement with major infrastructure projects around the world we know the benefits they can deliver in terms of improving people’s lives. We see the same potential in this case, as well as a great opportunity for Britain to export the technological know-how to other countries in the longer term.”
2,400 questionnaires returned during statutory consultation with the local community found that 86% of Swansea Bay residents are in favour of the project, which will provide an amenity for the local community and a unique venue for local, national and international sports, education and arts. Highlights include the creation of a 10 kilometre sea reef, the reintroduction of the native oyster into Swansea Bay, an offshore building including visitor and education facilities, and a national triathlon and watersports centre.
If given the go-ahead, construction of the Swansea Bay lagoon will begin in the first half of 2015, with first power being generated in 2018.