A tidal energy project that could provide electricity for thousands of homes, create thousands of British jobs and put the country at the forefront of marine power is in the balance. The privately financed £1.3 billion Swansea Tidal Lagoon is billed as a 320-megawatt innovation powering 150,000 homes in south Wales, and a flagship for British-built turbine generators in a global market. Welsh planning authorities have backed the scheme but the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has to consider whether the cost to the consumer is good value. Charles Hendry, the former Conservative energy minister, was commissioned earlier this year by Amber Rudd, when she was energy secretary, to review the potential for tidal lagoon technology. Ministers have been putting off a final decision because it is understood that Swansea Tidal Lagoon is demanding more than £120 per megawatt hour (MWh). That is equivalent to offshore wind prices but far higher than the £92.50 that the government controversially agreed to support the construction of the Hinkley Point nuclear power plant. Backers fear that ministers are focused on the initial price without considering that it is likely to halve as the technology becomes more widely installed and that they are ignoring the potential boon for Britain. The 16 generators for Swansea are to be built in Rugby for General Electric. GE has said that if other projects – at Cardiff and Newport in south Wales; across the water at Bridgwater, Somerset; at Colwyn Bay in north Wales and on the Cumbrian coast – get the go-ahead, it would need to build a new plant that would create hundreds of jobs.
Times 14th Nov 2016 read more »