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Business News Wales Exclusive: How Important is the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon to Wales?

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We ask Welsh businesses about the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon  and ask it the starting point for a scalable tidal energy industry in Wales and positon the nation as a world leader in the tidal energy sector?

Wendy Weber - Pembrokeshire CollegeWendy Weber

Head of Workforce Skill | Pembrokeshire College

The Tidal Lagoon really is a watershed moment for British energy. Knowing that we are likely to have the largest marine energy development in the world on our doorstep is a very exciting prospect for west Wales and the UK as a whole. The lagoon is the first of its kind in the world, which can be replicated elsewhere in the UK and overseas, creating a global, green energy opportunity, starting in Swansea Bay.

Not only is it going to provide a huge range of employment opportunities during the building phase; it will integrate social, environmental and economic initiatives to benefit local communities. Other benefits will include supply chain opportunities, arts & culture, sport & recreation, tourism, and it will support local and regional regeneration.

This is a fantastic time for our young people to gain the skills needed to play a part in building the energy of the future.

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Ioan Jenkins

Development Director | Tidal Lagoon Power

You really shouldn’t underestimate the huge potential of Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon. This consented, £1.3bn, 320MW pathfinder project will open up a programme of larger tidal infrastructure to generate renewable electricity at a scale and low cost never seen before. British-made turbine and generator technology and engineering expertise will be at the heart of the project.

The green light for Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon will give Wales and the UK first mover advantage in a new global industry, capable of scaling to sustain tens of thousands of skilled and unskilled UK blue collar jobs.  In the short-term, our commitment to spending locally means that we’ll see swift investment in three new Welsh manufacturing facilities, one for machining and pre-assembly of turbines, one for heavy fabrication of steel components and one for pre-cast of concrete components. Longer-term, there is the potential export market for British-made turbines, generators and engineering expertise valued in the tens of billions.

It all begins here in Wales with Swansea Bay being the home to this new global industry that offers significant export potential for our steel, manufacturing and engineering supply chain.

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Stephanie Meyer

GWLAD Tutor | University of Wales Trinity St Davids

Did you know that the use of tidal mills as a source of energy in Britain dates back to the 8th Century A.D.?! We’ve been making use of the amazing resources provided by our coastlines for more than 1,000 years.

Here on Britain’s west coast we are fortunate to have some of the best tides in the world for generating power, with incredible height differences between high and low tides. The Swansea Bay Lagoon could be a fundamental first step in testing the UK’s tidal resources for impact and cost effectiveness, as well as the potential of tidal energy to meet our power needs cleanly and efficiently. Alongside Swansea Bay, further developments in the Severn Estuary and Colwyn Bay could position Wales to not just become energy independent, but to become energy exporters to the rest of the UK and further afield. The Swansea Bay Lagoon has already been discussed in international forums including the Paris Climate Conference and the European Union; the world is watching Wales, hoping to learn from our experiences and setting us up to become leaders in tidal energy for decades to come!

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Alex Parr - WolfestoneAlex Parr

Managing Director | Wolfestone

The importance of the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon cannot be underestimated. Not only does the project firmly place Wales as a sector leader in tidal energy, but it positively impacts export and tourism trade within the region.

The tidal lagoon has attracted a huge amount of funding that will primarily be spent within Wales and the UK. Thousands of jobs will be created in the manufacturing and construction industries, building a long-lasting infrastructure for future projects in Wales and providing a strong platform for global export.

Swansea Bay’s Tidal Lagoon will also have a great impact on the translation industry. Tourism is expected to increase dramatically to approximately 100,000 visitors per year, and the project’s plans have already been presented to audiences across the globe. Naturally, customers and visitors from foreign countries would feel most comfortable communicating in their native language, and we’re ready to facilitate that need.

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David G Thomas

Manager | Bridge Innovation Centre

The recent conference of Marine Energy Wales at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea was an incredibly well attended event – in fact I heard it said that when the lawyers are turning up to such events, then you know that your industry has arrived!  Said a little tongue in cheek, but when real scalable industrial energy production is on the verge of being a reality, then it is quite an indication that the industry is showing successes in what are pioneering days.  It is rather an accolade that an organisation initially called Marine Energy Pembrokeshire has now evolved into Marine Energy Wales and is a recognised leading network on marine energy on the world stage!  The tidal lagoon is not just a major project for Swansea, Wales and the UK, but when achieved it will really be the first large scale tidal energy project that is successfully producing scalable, reliable and predictable renewable energy.  The UK is recognised as world leading in research and development for this industry, Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon will give the industry a real opportunity to put research, into development, into true industrial scale, renewable, clean electricity production for the region.  To coin a real cliché, it will put Wales well and truly onto the Renewable Energy Map where tidal and marine energy is concerned!

The views of David Thomas are his own and do not reflect the policy or otherwise of Pembrokeshire County Council.

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Matthew Sutton - Greenaway ScottMatthew Sutton

Corporate Director | Greenaway Scott

The Swansea Bay tidal lagoon is the first of its kind and if it proves to be a success has the potential to put Wales on the map as a world leader in tidal energy.  It is estimated that this small-scale test programme will provide a renewable form of energy to 155,000 homes in Wales for the next 120 years and could form the basis of a scalable blueprint for up to six further tidal lagoons to be built around the coast of Britain generating large scale renewable energy at a relatively low cost.

As well as the environmental benefits, the lagoon will also bring many economic benefits with the creation of two new manufacturing facilities being built in Wales and also the creation of around 2,000 local jobs.

If successful, the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon project could be the start of a new era in global renewable energy.

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Karen Thomas

Head of Business Corporate Banking | Barclays

With increasing demand on power supplies new sources have got to be a good thing for Wales.  Whilst it would be great to be a world leader in this field realistically, we need to make more progress to have credibility before considering this further.

There are many positives in regard to the proposed lagoon such as contributing to the decarbonisation goals, economic opportunity and regeneration but with any strategy there will also be challenges to consider in terms of environmental impacts and a balanced review would be needed before positioning us as a world leader. #innovation

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Mark Hindmarsh - Smart Anchor VenturesMark Hindmarsh

Director | Smart Anchor Ventures

I’ve seen the investment prospectus for both Tidal Lagoon Power and Swansea Tidal Lagoon and it’s fair to say Mark Shorrock and his team have huge ambitions, ambitions which go way beyond Swansea and Wales. Their plans demonstrate the kind of ballsy big thinking we need more of here in Wales.

If Tidal Lagoon Power achieve half of what they have planned the benefit to Wales will be significant and this infrastructure project is likely to deliver the kind of positive economic halo effect not seen in Wales for decades and possibly not since the glory days of coal. Thousands will benefit from new employment, millions of pounds in new contracts will be awarded to local suppliers and the world’s first lagoon built in Swansea will become a global focal point for a new clean energy industry worth an estimated £15bn, a new industry which will serve the world, one conceived and born in Wales.

Big ambitions always come with challenges and this project has already seen its fair share. The suspected negative effect on fish and other marine life according to Natural Resources Wales (NRW) is the current contentious issue now under review and therefore it could be sometime before we all know if and when construction will start.

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Dave Brassey

Chartered Insurance Practitioner | Towergate Insurance

With the phasing out of coal fired power stations and the older nuclear plants, there is a need to find alternative energy sources. These need to be environmentally friendly to meet future carbon targets.

The tidal energy concept seems to be in favour at the moment as it is not dependent on the weather and provides a predictable low carbon energy source.

Wales is very well positioned to become a leader in the marine energy market. As well as the proposed lagoon in Swansea there are a number of other potential schemes in the north and the south of the country that could follow in the footsteps of Swansea.

There needs to be proper consideration of the ecological impact, but this could be a great opportunity for Wales to lead the world and create economic growth and a welcome boost to job creation in the country.

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Graham Leslie Morgan

Managing Director | Business Doctors

Since the concept of tidal energy gathered momentum 5 years or so ago there has always been a feeling of ‘will it or won’t it happen’ surrounding the Swansea project. However, you view this transformational innovative scheme the likely benefits to Wales are absolutely significant! Indeed, despite the views of many commentators I am not certain the full benefit can be really appreciated until the lagoon is complete and everyone can see and feel the impact.

As a Banker in Cardiff in the 1990’s I recall the scepticism that surrounded the Cardiff Bay barrage and some of the many concerns around what the project could do to the environment in particular. With that scheme well established we can clearly see complete regeneration of a part of Wales that was really struggling with the demise of traditional industry but a landmark that places Wales on a national and international map. The many development projects that have progressed in the Cardiff Bay area and the tourism appeal of the facilities created has benefitted the economy in very many ways and is a development our country can be proud of.

Swansea Bay tidal lagoon has the propensity to totally eclipse what we have seen in Cardiff. A project that will:

  1. Puts Wales on a world map for innovation and creativity that very much reflects our heritage and tradition.
  2. Will generate green renewable energy for generations to come and ultimately contribute too longer term energy security.
  3. Allow Welsh businesses to become supply chain component experts and as such give them the licence to transport that expertise around the globe.
  4. Create a leisure facility that will be significant by its sheer size and draw all important tourism/visitors.
  5. Bring construction phase and permanent jobs to Swansea Bay City Region.
  6. Allow academic study of an exciting new renewable energy source.

We know this project will pave the way for other planned sites around Wales and without doubt place Wales on the world map as experts in this type of development.

In summary – direct economic impact, employment, tourism, supply chain, regeneration and showcase to the world. Clearly very many positives and few areas that come across as down sides!!!

To find out more about our panellists or to look back at previous panel debates, click here.