Questions over Swansea Bay lagoon must not delay other tidal power opportunities, say developers

Developers have warned that questions over the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon must not delay other opportunities for tidal power. The warning came as the department for energy and climate change (Decc) launched a review  “to ensure all decisions made regarding tidal lagoon energy are in the best interest of the UK.”

The company behind the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon have delayed building the lagoon after reaching a stalemate in discussions with the government over the level of subsidy it will receive.

Energy minister Lord Bourne commented: “Tidal Lagoons on this scale are an exciting, but as yet an untested technology. I want to better understand whether tidal lagoons can be cost effective, and what their impact on bills will be – both today and in the longer term.”

The Decc review of tidal lagoons will consider:

  • An assessment of whether, and in what circumstances, tidal lagoons could play a cost effective role as part of the UK energy mix;
  • The potential scale of opportunity in the UK and internationally, including supply chain opportunities;
  • A range of possible structures for financing tidal lagoons;
  • Different sizes of projects as the first of a kind;
  • Whether a competitive framework could be put in place for the delivery of tidal lagoon projects

Peter Dixon, chief executive of tidal developer Kepler Energy, said: “The opportunity that tidal stream energy offers the UK must not be overshadowed by the hiatus surrounding tidal lagoons and Swansea Bay. Kepler Energy is working hard to bring forward plans for a tidal energy fence that will be located in the Bristol Channel… Subject to planning and financing, the Bristol Channel tidal fence, which is likely to be located in the Aberthaw to Minehead stretch of water, could be operational by 2025.”

He added: “The opportunity that tidal stream energy offers the UK is very significant. Our tidal stream technology at scale can quickly be cost competitive with nuclear generation and offshore wind, and can be deployed quickly and extensively in UK and overseas waters.”

Meanwhile, a new set of standards for the design and operation of tidal turbines has been published based on the outputs of a project in the Energy Technologies Institute’s (ETI) marine technology programme. The new certification standards will apply to all underwater tidal turbines. The ETI’s project manager Paul Trinick said: “Project developers will be interested in certifying their projects to satisfy their investors and insurers that they have controlled their risks.”

From the archive: Swansea’s tidal lagoon – how does it work and where are the costs?

From the magazine (subscribers only): Industry efforts to generate electricity from the UK’s tides will enter a critical new phase in 2016 with installation of the world’s first mini array of utility-scale turbines off the Scottish coast

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