Planning permission has been granted for the world’s first tidal lagoon power plant – the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon – by the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.

If built, turbines in the proposed horseshoe shaped sea wall around Swansea Bay in Wales could, according to the developer, generate around 500GWh per year of low carbon electricity.

But before the lagoon becomes a reality, it is still subject to Contract for Difference (CfD) negotiations to establish whether a tidal lagoon at Swansea Bay is affordable and value for money for consumers.

Any decision to offer a CfD for the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon project will be subject to strict value for money considerations and affordability, and to State aid approval.

Wave reflection concerns

In making her decision, the Secretary of State noted that the proposed development would not significantly impact upon commercial and recreational navigation sailing to and from the port of Neath to the East of the proposed development.

However, she is aware that ABP which runs Swansea Port and the Royal Yachting Association both have concerns about wave reflection from the lagoon wall on vessels entering and leaving the port. As a result, a protective provision had been included in the Development Consent Order.

Mitigation measures

The Secretary of State also noted that the Monkstone Cruising and Sailing Club was concerned about the possible impact on its activities. However, the Examining authority has, in response to RYA concerns on this issue specifically, proposed a requirement for the Order to ensure that dredging of the MCSC marina was considered by the applicant by way of a dredging mitigation and monitoring scheme.

The Secretary of State agreed with the proposal and has included the dredging mitigation and monitoring scheme in the Order as made.

How the lagoon would work

  • A six-mile long seawall loops two miles out to sea from close to the mouth of the River Tawe and Swansea Docks and makes landfall close to Swansea University’s new Fabian Way campus to the east
  • It would house 16 underwater turbines generating electricity on both the rising and falling tide
Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon wall visual

Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon wall visual

‘A new era’

Mark Shorrock, chief executive of Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay Plc, said: ‘Wales led the way providing the fuel for the industrial revolution. We are now entering the era of the climate change revolution – de-carbonising our world in time to avoid two degrees of global warming – Wales can now lead this next revolution.

‘In the run up to the Paris talks on a global climate change deal, a deal to steer global emissions from 50bn tonnes CO2e down to 40bn tonnes CO2e by 2030 and 20bn tonnes by 2050, the UK and especially Wales has opened a new door to help answer the greatest challenge of our age.

‘With the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon becoming a reality, locking in 120 year life, zero carbon energy infrastructure, we have the potential to help transform our industrial economy and the UK’s energy mix.’

The proposed Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay Project

The proposed Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay Project

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Mr Shorrock added: ‘We see it as a game-changer, a scalable blueprint, paving the way for a fleet of lagoons that can work in harmony with nature to help secure the nation’s electricity for generations to come.

‘The tidal lagoons that follow – at Cardiff, at Newport, elsewhere in the UK and overseas – must each make their own compelling social, environmental and economic case to proceed.  But they have a pilot project to guide them and a blossoming technical and industrial network to support them.

‘We’ll create an opportunity for the local community and ordinary people across the country to part-own the lagoon, should they wish to do so, later in the year.

‘It seems a very long time ago that we first set out our vision to the people of Swansea Bay: the international class sporting facilities and events; the opportunities for employment and leisure; the visitor facilities and tourism potential; the incubation of new ventures in mariculture and conservation; the blank canvass for art and learning, for culture and interaction; the Sunday stroll along the lagoon wall.

‘We now have some further permissions to secure and must successfully conclude CFD negotiations on our way to financial close, but the vision is now closer to reality than ever before and our delivery team is readying itself to start on site and start delivering for Swansea Bay next spring.’