Swansea Bay City Region has called upon the private sector to lead the development of the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon project.
A taskforce set up by the City Region concluded the development of a tidal lagoon needs to be led by the private sector and without the reliance on government or local government subsidy.
An official invitation, known as a Prior Invitation Notice (PIN) is being published to give companies and investors the chance to be part of the project.
The PIN states the Swansea Bay City Region is seeking a partner or partners to undertake the delivery of the development, either through a partner development arrangement or joint venture.
Swansea Council has said although the fundamental requirement of the project is to be “stand-alone”, requiring no form of subsidy, the Welsh government has indicated that it is prepared to make a significant investment alongside an appropriate institutional partner or investor.
The partner or partners will be required to conclude the detailed planning, design and licensing, obtain all appropriate permissions and secure funding for the realisation of the lagoon.
The project will involve a strategic review of the overall project, design work, development of business and project plans, securing of necessary investment, construction and operation.
Rob Stewart, chair of the taskforce and leader of Swansea Council, said: “Despite the UK government not supporting Tidal Lagoon Power’s proposals, we want to deliver this ground-breaking project in Swansea Bay.
“We’ve spent the past three months re-evaluating the project and agreeing the best way to structure a deal that will deliver a tidal lagoon.
“Unlike the previous proposal, we believe it should be a private sector-led development that doesn’t rely on government or local government subsidy to pay for it.
“That’s why we’re now testing the market to see which companies are interested in helping to deliver the lagoon. This could range from large financial institutions who want to invest in the project to major construction companies who want to build the lagoon.
“Once we know the type and level of interest from the private sector, we can consider the best route to take to ensure we deliver this project and pave the way for a new industry where Swansea Bay, Wales and the UK can be a global leader.”
A spokesperson for Tidal Lagoon Power (TLP) said: “We are fully supportive of the taskforce’s Tidal Lagoon 2.0 market testing initiative and look forward to engaging with the ideas and partnerships it stimulates.”
In June the government announced it would not back plans for the £1.3 billion project based on figures showing that nuclear and offshore wind can generate the same amount of electricity at a third of the cost.
The government published the financial debate details of the project last week (19 October).
Government correspondence found that the economic benefits of TLP programme would not have outweighed the most optimistic estimates of the additional costs for electricity customers if it had been built.
In a letter to the House of Commons’ Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Welsh Affairs select committee from Claire Perry, the energy and clean growth minister writes that government estimates of the programme’s economic benefits worked out at between £0.4 billion and £1.2 billion.
“Even at the higher end of this range, the estimated wider benefits were less than the most optimistic impact of TLP’s lagoon programme on the costs of the electricity system – a cost of £2 billion to 2050.”