World’s first tidal lagoon power plants could meet 10% of UK’s energy demand


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Plans for the world’s first man-made, energy-generating lagoon have been submitted for official approval today.

Cheltenham-based Tidal Lagoon Power Ltd (TLP) said it had taken a major step towards realising one of the UK’s most game-changing infrastructure projects.

After three years of feasibility work and impact assessments, TLP today submitted its application – which runs to 5000 pages – for a Development Consent Order (DCO) under the planning laws.

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 sign-off by Energy Secretary Ed Davey.

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 the supply chain 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.

He said “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 marine energy 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.

The proposal for a tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay offers:

* The world’s first, man-made, energy-generating lagoon, with a 240MW nominal rated capacity averaging 14 hours of generation every day

* Clean, renewable, reliable and predictable power for over 120,000 homes (enough to power 70% of Swansea Bay’s annual domestic electricity use) for 120 years

* An important contribution towards national carbon emission reduction targets – over 216,000 tonnes of CO2 saved each year

* An opportunity to develop a tidal range industry for the UK, centred around Wales

* Community and tourism opportunities covering education, arts, culture, recreation and sports.

* Tidal power connected to the National Grid by 2020, as other power stations are closed down.

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.

The Swansea Bay lagoon will comprise of a UK standard sand-core breakwater or rock bund, similar to many seen in coastal defence schemes and harbour walls.

The generating equipment of bulb hydro turbines have been used for many years on run-of-river hydro power schemes as well as some landmark tidal barrages. The hydro turbines are mounted inside concrete turbine housings and are permanently submerged so the resulting view is of a ring-shaped harbour wall with one section of concrete casing.

As the sea outside the breakwater rises and is held back a difference in water levels is created, known as ‘head’, and once a sufficient head height is reached sluice gates are opened and water flows into the lagoon through turbines to generate electricity.

This process then occurs in reverse, on the ebb tide, as sea levels start to fall and a tidal head is created by holding water back within the lagoon. This way the tides can flow through the turbines four times daily to generate power.

The Severn Estuary holds the second highest tidal range in the world and within this Swansea Bay benefits from an average tidal range during spring tides of 8.5m.

The developers claim this tidal range offers significant potential for the extraction of renewable energy through the construction of tidal lagoons and is an exciting opportunity for Wales and the UK.

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.


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