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Does Tidal Energy Have a Future in Wales?

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The Swansea Tidal Lagoon was a landmark project for Wales, which would not only help us to meet our sustainable energy ambitions, but also provide significant opportunities for local people and businesses.

Despite the government’s own adviser, former energy minister Charles Hendry – saying it was a risk worth taking for such a “huge opportunity” to create a new industry. The UK Government rejected the Project.

But does tidal energy have a future in Wales?

Tidal Lagoon Power in Wales

Ioan Jenkins | Development Director

“Where there is a will, there is a way. We have worked very hard to secure a critical change in the UK’s energy mix.  There is unquestionably a role for tidal lagoons as a scale low carbon power source and as major contributors to the national economy.  Any island nation blessed with a natural resource like ours must surely want to nurture homegrown tidal power but any new industry needs a pathfinder. I remain convinced that Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon is that pathfinder.”

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EFT Consult

Dave Kieft | Managing Director

“Tidal energy in Wales is a necessity, not a luxury. The government perceive itself to be a government of sustainable solutions, yet refuse to understand that tidal power is the most sustainable of all. There may be some fine tuning needed regarding strike rates, and perceptions of how much of the scheme is an energy project and how much can be allocated to regeneration, but with the Welsh government’s commitment to their share, surely this must make a difference and deserves further evaluation. The Swansea lagoon isn’t a short term investment and the government has to understand that reward cannot come without some risk. It is certainly not valuing the future prospects and economy of Wales. The project would see the creation of a world leading product that would generate long term and sustainable growth, as well as the opportunity to put Wales at the forefront of a new and sustainable industry. The rejection announcement is very disappointing and is a short sighted view on a project that should and must proceed.”

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Yolk Recruitment

Phil Pitman | Head of Engineering and Technical Division

“It’s disappointing to hear the decision to reject the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon scheme. The project was predicted to directly create 28 long term jobs, and would have been a catalyst for a flurry of investment into the city which would filter through to exciting local supplier opportunities.

“Trialing this pioneering technology would have been a significant opportunity for the Swansea region and would have positioned Wales as an international leader of renewable energy technology, strengthening our reputation for innovation.

“However, I still believe there is significant potential for future tidal lagoons in the UK, with similar schemes being proposed in North Wales.”

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Port of Milford Haven

Tim James | Director of Energy

“This decision is disappointing for Wales and we look forward to continuing to support Tidal Lagoon Power in demonstrating the value of their technology, which is based on tidal range, to the UK government. It is, however, important to recognise that tidal range is only one type of marine energy and here in Wales we are continuing to make strong progress with wave and tidal stream, as well as with floating wave. Our operational base in Pembrokeshire has a world-class offer – it is rich in renewable natural energy sources and has an extensive engineering supply chain with device build and deployment experience – and we attracting developers from all over the planet who recognise the benefits. This opportunity is at the heart of our Pembroke Dock Marine development. It is a Swansea Bay City Deal project and was alluded to by the Rt Hons Claire Perry MP, Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth), during the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon debate when asked about other types of marine energy opportunities for Wales.

Pembroke Dock Marine will be an operational hub for the marine energy sector with focus on bringing these nascent technologies to full commercialisation. It will accommodate fabrication space and test areas, as well as including a dedicated innovation hub which will bring academia and industry together in order to drive innovation. We see strong economic growth associated with the development, which will also create high-skill employment opportunities, and also recognise that Pembroke Dock Marine’s value extends beyond marine energy with extensive potential for application across the maritime sector.”

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Good Energy

Dr. Randall Bowen | Sales and Commercial Director

“Tidal power is the perfect solution for harnessing the UK’s most reliable and abundant natural asset. It’s a brilliant way for Britain to diversify its fuel mix, while removing some of the uncertainties associated with traditional forms of renewable energy, such as wind and solar.

Swansea Bay would have been the world’s first tidal lagoon, creating thousands of jobs. Following a successful pilot, we would be able to expect more, bigger tidal projects that could provide the UK with up to 12% of its electricity.

That’s why Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon represents a unique opportunity.  Unfortunately, the decision was the wrong one. Given we have some of the highest tidal ranges in the World, there is huge potential to harness tidal power in Wales—and elsewhere in the UK—to bring us closer to a low carbon future.”

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Capital Law

Sam O’Callaghan | Trainee Solicitor

“Despite the Government’s disappointing decision not to support the Swansea Tidal Lagoon project, tidal and hydro energy certainly does have a place in Wales’ renewable energy future.

While not a lagoon, several feasible projects are being considered across the coast, and there’s real scope for barrage (utilising tide) and wave (utilising current) technologies. And, as far as lagoons go, there’s no reason why innovative funding options couldn’t be explored in the future – similar to the likes of the Mutual Investment Model – as a potential solution to Westminster’s financial viability concerns. But, even looking at these options will need prior approval. Given Wales’ desire to be a leading renewable energy force, perhaps the solution lies with further devolution of powers. Of course, the finances must still stack up.

The lagoon decision is a definite set-back for renewable energy, but it’s not all doom and gloom. The drive to use technologies that utilise wind, solar, geo-thermal, hydro, biomass, and hydrogen – as well as systematic changes to the grid and exploring blockchain’s potential in the sector – means the future of renewable energy in Wales still looks bright.”

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Swansea Council

Cllr Rob Stewart | Leader

“Lagoon technology is something that still has legs, is something still supportable, and the first minister is keen that we continue to explore that.”

Different ways of funding and getting the lagoon built, and of selling its power directly to organisations as well as the National Grid, would be examined by the council.”

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Ecotricity

Dale Vince | CEO

“There is plenty of time to have a competitive tender and to get this right – as the government have said this week,” Mr Vince said.

“Swansea Bay was too expensive and it doesn’t make sense to do it, especially when not just other forms of renewable energy are much cheaper but other approaches to tidal energy are too.”

“We’re hoping that the government now turns around, on the back of this decision, and creates a proper competitive process for tidal lagoons.”

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A Spokesperson for the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy of the UK Government said:

“The Department does not recognise the company’s analysis, which appears not to use accepted approaches to appraising this type of project and seems to include out of date cost comparisons.

“The Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon and the proposed wider programme of lagoons did not represent value for money for consumers.

“That said, we absolutely recognise the potential of marine technologies and are open to proposals demonstrating value for money for taxpayers.”

Additional information:

  • The Government published a summary value for money statement, which uses criteria for assessing the project set out publicly in 2015. This uses the same tests as for Hinkley Point C and the Department’s analysis clearly shows that the proposed tidal lagoons are not value for money
  • We want our renewable energy sector to continue to thrive which is why this Government will invest over £2.5 billion in low carbon innovation by 2021, but clearly investment in new technology must represent value for money for the UK taxpayer as well as the consumer
  • Since 2010, over £90m in funding support was made available to marine technologies from several UK Government organisations
  • There are some inaccuracies in the Tidal Lagoon Power Audit, including:
    • Tidal Lagoon Power appeared to have used out of date costs for offshore wind. There has been a 50% reduction in costs achieved in the most recent Contracts for Difference auction, and we expect further cost reductions
    • Tidal Lagoon Power has presumed a 120-year lifetime for a lagoon. This is optimistic as the technology is currently unproven. Independent technical advice suggests that a 50-60-year design lifetime is more realistic.

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