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UK considers large-scale tidal power programme

19 March 2015

Plans to build the world’s first tidal lagoon power generation system received a boost on March 18 when Chancellor George Osborne said negotiations were opening on a £1bn tidal lagoon scheme in Swansea Bay in his Budget speech in the House of Commons. The Government believes tidal power is a major economic and energy opportunity for the UK.

Image: Tidal Lagoon Power Limited
Image: Tidal Lagoon Power Limited

The proposed £1bn six-mile horseshoe shaped sea wall scheme in Swansea Bay could generate around 500GWh per year, enough to power almost 120,000 homes.

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey said: “Britain has some of the best tidal resources in the world – tidal lagoons could provide 8% of our electricity needs, replacing foreign fossil fuels with clean, reliable home-grown electricity and creating fantastic economic opportunities.”

The company behind the scheme,Tidal Lagoon Power Limited, hopes to create 70,000 jobs in the construction phase alone, if it can roll the programme out to five other, larger schemes at a total cost of £30bn.

The company is looking at sites for a factory to assemble wave turbines in the wider Swansea area, while a tender for generators has already been awarded to General Electric in Rugby, Warwickshire.

The energy department will start negotiations on a “strike price” under the government’s “contracts for difference” mechanism, beginning at about £168 per megawatt-hour for the first lagoon, falling to £92 for a third lagoon. This compares with a strike price of £92.50 for the planned Hinkley Point C nuclear plant in Somerset.

The scheme has since been attacked as "appalling value for money" by consumer charity Citizens Advice, which said that electricity from the tidal lagoon would be more expensive than that from any other major green energy project in the UK to date.

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