Plans for Swansea Bay’s groundbreaking tidal power project have been revived with its backers claiming it can be built without public financial support.
The UK government announced last summer that it would not support Tidal Lagoon Power’s (TLP) plans to build its £1.2 billion project, which would use tidal power flowing through turbines in a concrete wall to generate electricity.
TLP has proposed installing floating solar panels in the artificial lagoon, which would be created by the wall, to increase the amount of electricity it generates by more than a third to about 770GWh.
And the company is exploring setting up power purchase agreements (PPAs) with companies to buy the electricity generated by the lagoon.
Several major companies are interested in buying electricity from the lagoon, according to a report in The Guardian. They include commercial property company Land Securities, Cardiff airport and housebuilder Berkeley Group.
Chris Nutt, business development manager at TLP, told Utility Week that the company is in dialogue with businesses from “key sectors” across Wales and the UK.
And he confirmed that TLP plans to build up a “pipeline” of energy customers to enable a final investment decision to be made by the end of the financial year so that construction can start shortly afterwards.
He said: “The revised model gives companies and local authorities the opportunity to make tidal power happen by buying electricity direct from the lagoon.
“In doing so they can be seen to be creating a low emission future and be part of creating the new green economy that tidal power can generate – new turbines, generators, civil engineering jobs for the next generation.
“The combined effects of low cost of capital and long term off-take agreements with attractive pricing mean that over the operating life of the lagoon, buyers can hedge against future shortfalls, be part of this iconic landmark and a low carbon change to our infrastructure – something that their customers care deeply about.”
Mark Shorrock, chief executive of TLP, told the House of Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy select committee last year that the strike price for electricity generated by Swansea Bay project would be £150/MW hour if the project had no public support and its contract for difference mirrored the 35-year deal agreed with EDF for the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant.
Nutt said that discussions about price are of a “commercial nature and as such confidential to us and our customers.”
Since the government announced it would not support the TLP plan, which was supported by the former energy minister Charles Hendry in a government commissioned report published two years ago, its long-term energy plans have been hit by the cancellation of Toshiba’s nuclear plant at Moorside and Hitachi’s suspension of work on its UK atomic power programme.
The Swansea Bay project has been envisaged as the first of a series to be built around the Welsh coast which would harness tidal power.