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Off Grid Energy Independence
Posted on January 13, 2017 by  & 

Tidal lagoon project makes the most of natural resources

Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon will be the world's first tidal lagoon power plant.
A tidal lagoon is a 'U' shaped breakwater, built out from the coast which has a bank of hydro turbines in it. Water fills up and empties the man-made lagoon as the tides rise and fall. The system can generate electricity on both the incoming and outgoing tides, four times a day, every day.
Due to the incredible tides on the West Coast of Britain, by keeping the turbine gates shut for just three hours, there is already a 14ft height difference in water between the inside and the outside of the lagoon. Power is then generated as the water rushes through 200ft long draft tubes, rotating the 23ft diameter hydro turbines.
The project was awarded a Development Consent Order in 2015 and is primed for construction. It will comprise 16 hydro turbines, a six mile breakwater wall, generating electricity for 155,000 homes for the next 120 years. Its major delivery partners include Atkins, General Electric, Andritz Hydro, Laing O'Rourke and Alun Griffiths Ltd.
The 320MW pathfinder project provides a scalable blueprint for the programme, opening up the option of a fleet of larger UK tidal lagoons to generate renewable electricity at a scale and low cost not seen before.
To date, approximately £35 million has been spent on project development.  With the exception of a commercial loan from Welsh Government this has been financed privately.
The aim is to start on site in 2018. Construction of the entire project will take four years, with first power generated in year three.
British institutions, led by Prudential's InfraCapital and InfraRed Capital Partners, will provide equity funding for the business.  Macquarie Capital (Europe) Limited is advising Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay (TLSB) on debt funding, and has received close to 40 expressions of interest to provide debt finance to the project. The majority of project's £1.3 billion capital spend will be on content sourced in Wales and across the UK.
Independent reports find that 2,232 construction and manufacturing jobs will be directly sustained by the build, supporting thousands of further jobs in the wider Welsh/UK economy. The project is expected to contribute £316 million in Gross Value Added to the Welsh economy during construction, followed by £76 million in each of its 120 years of operation.
British-made turbine and generator technology and engineering expertise will be at the heart of the project, seeding a new global industry with significant export potential for UK manufacturers. The project will facilitate the creation of two new manufacturing facilities to be built in Wales, one for machining and pre-assembly of turbines and one for heavy fabrication of steel components.
Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon requires only the rate of bill payer support currently offered to nuclear, a 60 year established industry. But because the project is small, its overall cost to households is also small: potentially as low as 20-30 pence per household per year, on average.
Economies of scale apply: large-scale lagoons generate cheaper power than small-scale lagoons. The larger projects being prepared to follow the pathfinder at Swansea Bay could generate the cheapest electricity of all new power stations in the UK.
Mark Shorrock of Tidal Lagoon Power reviewed former energy minister Charles Hendry's comments as he called for the Government to move ahead with a smaller "pathfinder" lagoon project.
"This is an exemplar of a well-managed, timely and thorough independent review. We thank Charles and his team for their positive and professional endeavour throughout the process. With the publication of the Hendry Review we've hit 'peak consensus.' Home-grown power from the tides, starting at Swansea Bay, is something we can all agree on: communities and investors, conservationists and industrialists, politicians of all persuasions and now an independent government review, all singing from the same hymn sheet. Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon is a vision of how Great Britain can replace part of our ageing power station fleet with low cost, reliable power that also revitalises our industrial heartlands and coastal communities. When we pay our electricity bills, we are mostly supporting other countries' energy industries and other countries' workers. It doesn't have to be that way. Tidal lagoons will generate electrons that work for Britain and bring down bills. The Hendry Review has set the final piece of the jigsaw in place: a watershed moment for British energy, British manufacturing, British productivity and our coastal communities. We look forward to working with Ministers and Officials to bring this new industry to life."
Source and top image: Tidal Lagoon Power
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