While tidal stream technology is seen as closer to commercial viability, tidal lagoon (tidal barrage) projects arguably could make an even bigger impact on electricity supply networks in the nearer term. The UK’s decision to give the planning and development green light to the £1 billion 320MW Swansea Bay tidal lagoon project in June 2015 was hailed by Tidal Power Lagoon (TPL) chief executive Mark Shorrock as a potential “game-changer”. For once, it was not necessarily an over-zealous use of the phrase. As he noted, with a 120-year lifespan, the ability to produce predictable amounts of energy for 14 hours a day every day, the creating of a large local supply chain (and with it a significant volume of jobs), and by using what he describes as a “zero carbon energy infrastructure”, this and the other, much larger, tidal barrage projects planned by TPL across five other sites in the UK could provide up to eight per cent of the UK’s electricity supply alone. The next two proposed projects by TLP at Cardiff and Newport, for which planning applications are expected in 2017 and 2018 respectively, alone represent some 4000MW of lagoon power and £10 billion of capital investment. However, just months after the Swansea Bay project was given the green light, it was put on hold for a year, reportedly in part because of negotiations with Department for Energy & Climate Change (DECC) over the contract for difference (the subsidy the Government will pay for each unit of renewable energy produced by the lagoon).
Renewable Energy Focus 18th March 2016 read more »