In Wales, the government has approved the construction of a $2 billion (ZAR25 billion) tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay, in attempts to generate low carbon power while reducing the country’s dependency on heavy based fossil fuels.
According to Energy Minister Lord Bourne, who is also Wales Office Minister: “We need more clean and home-grown sources of energy, which will help to reduce our reliance on foreign fossil fuels.
“Low carbon energy projects like the tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay could bring investment, support local jobs and help contribute to the Welsh economy and Swansea area.”
Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon
Project developers Tidal Lagoon Power, said that the Tidal Lagoon project will include a 9.6km seawall that will loop 3km out to sea from close to the mouth of the River Tawe and Swansea Docks and connect close to Swansea University’s new Fabian Way campus to the east, bbc.com reported.
The power project will include 16 underwater turbines generating electricity from the natural ebb and flow of the oceans tide, generating enough clean power to electrify 155,000 households.
Located on the southern coast of Wales, Bourne claims the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon project is expected to have a 120-year life, adding to the long-term global goal of de-carbonising the planet.
In order to cover the $2 billion cost, the UK government is expected to agree on a subsidy for the energy produced in Q3 2015 where Tidal Lagoon Power is asking for a higher incentive than wind turbines, solar power and nuclear.
The level of noise, compared to other low-carbon technology such as wind turbines, is significantly reduced as the 16 turbines are located under water.
There are concerns that the project will interfere with the migratory routes of fish life and the potential negative effects of dredging. Natural Resources Wales (NRW) will continue to assess the possible effects of the lagoon on the environment.
Should NRW approve the environmental assessment, a marine licence could be issued by the end of July and if approved construction is expected to begin in Q1 of 2016 with the project estimated to be operational in Q4 2018.
According to the project developers, the tidal project will reduce over 236,000 tonnes of CO2 each year.
Driving the economy
Mark Shorrock, chief executive of Tidal Lagoon (Swansea Bay) Power commented in a statement: “Through a single project we have the opportunity to create a whole new industry. And in a single step, that project can take us to low cost, renewable energy on a nuclear scale.”
He added: “We see it as a game-changer, a scalable blueprint, paving the way for a fleet of lagoons that can work in harmony with nature to help secure the nation’s electricity for generations to come. The tidal lagoons that follow – at Cardiff, at Newport, elsewhere in the UK and overseas – must each make their own compelling social, environmental and economic case to proceed. But they have a pilot project to guide them and a blossoming technical and industrial network to support them.”