The Hendry Review, reporting on the strategic role of tidal lagoons in the UK, has backed plans for the £1.3 billion Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon.
The independent report into the viability of the renewable energy technology has recommended that the UK builds a world first lagoon to capture energy from the sea in Swansea Bay, a decision that has been widely welcomed across the UK.
Charles Hendry, a former UK energy minister, has gathered evidence for nearly a year for his independent government commissioned inquiry, assessing whether, and in what circumstances, tidal lagoons could play a cost effective role as part of the UK energy mix and the potential scale of opportunity for the technology in the UK.
Hendry has said that the ‘pathfinder’ project in Swansea would kick-start a tidal industry which could play a cost-effective, reliable and sustainable role in the UK’s energy mix.
Among the 30 conclusions in the report, Hendry said that: the technology would ‘contribute positively’ towards the UK's decarbonisation goals; it was ‘beyond question’ that local economic regeneration would follow a tidal lagoon; the potential impact on consumer bills of large scale tidal lagoons ‘appears attractive, particularly when compared to nuclear projects’ in the long term; and a Tidal Power Authority should oversee the new industry.
Hendry said: “The costs of a pathfinder project would be about 30p per household per year over the first 30 years. A large scale project would be less than 50p over the first 60 years. The benefits of that investment could be huge, especially in South Wales but also in many other parts of the country.
“Having looked at all the evidence and spoken to many of the key players on both sides of this debate, it is my view that we should seize the opportunity to move this technology forward now.”
The Swansea Bay project would involve 16 turbines along a breakwater but is seen as only the start - a prototype for much larger lagoons in Cardiff, Newport, Bridgewater Bay in Somerset, Colwyn Bay and west Cumbria.
Rob Stewart, Swansea Council leader, said: “As well as generating clean, green energy for hundreds of thousands of homes for over a century, the tidal lagoon will create thousands of long-term jobs for local people, benefit existing local businesses and lead to the development of a major new facility in SA1 where tidal lagoon components, research and technology will be exported across the world.
“Reducing the country's reliance on foreign energy and helping tackle Britain's energy deficit, this will be a ground-breaking new industry for the UK with roots right here in Swansea, helping further raise the city's global profile and attract even more investment in future. The construction of the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon should begin as soon as practicable, as Sir Charles has recommended, so we'll continue to do all we can to get the project over the finish line.”