Ecotricity boss blasts Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon cost

Dale Vince warns government against giving the project a “sweetheart deal”

The founder of Ecotricity has slammed the proposed Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon as too expensive.

Dale Vince called on the government to resist giving the £1.3 billion project a “sweetheart deal”, which he claims would see energy bill payers overcharged by billions of pounds for almost the next century. 

The green energy tycoon said tidal lagoons can deliver energy for almost a quarter of the price of current Swansea Bay proposal – at a cost of around £90 per megawatt hour for 25 years rather than £90 per megawatt hour for 90 years as is currently proposed for Swansea.

“The government needs to resist giving Swansea Bay a ‘sweetheart deal’, which is hideously expensive and will be forced onto hard-pressed energy bill-payers for the next 100 years,” said Vince.

“We agree with much of what Charles Hendry said in his recent review of tidal power,” he added.

“Done properly, tidal lagoons can provide power at almost a quarter of the cost of this proposal – and lower than the cost of nuclear.” 

But earlier this month, the trade union Unite urged the government to give the green light to the project, which it said is worth at least £500 million to the Welsh economy.

“Theresa May and her government needs to stop the dithering and end the continued uncertainty over the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon,” said Unite general secretary, Len McCluskey.

“This is a landmark project which would unleash an economic boost worth millions into the Welsh economy and create thousands of much needed decent jobs,” he added.

Responding to Vince’s claims, a spokesman for Tidal Lagoon Power said the Hendry Review, which was published earlier this year, categorises offshore tidal lagoons as “less developed and more aspirational”. 

“While we are supportive of all efforts to innovate in the power sector, clearly no employment, industry or low carbon power can come from aspiration alone,” said the spokesman.

“Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon is the pathfinder for a new global industry that can pull down the price of electricity for consumers while allowing them to interact with and learn from the source of that electricity like never before.  Investors want to fund tidal lagoons, British industry wants to supply them, coastal communities want to host them and with permission to proceed from UK Government we can be on site in Swansea Bay next year.”

Vince's broadside against the project comes just days after Ecotricity launched a bid to get two sets on the board of rivals Good Energy.

He claimed Good Energy “faces some clear challenges that we are equipped to assist with”.

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