Government refuses to back Swansea Bay tidal lagoon

The UK government confirmed yesterday that it would not provide funding for the world’s first tidal lagoon power plant in Swansea Bay, dealing a hammer blow to the future of the development.


Business secretary Greg Clark argued that the £1.3bn scheme did not represent value for money, and that offshore wind could generate the same amount of power for less than a third of the price.

This is despite the lagoon receiving backing from an independent review last year, and the project’s developers insisting the plant could provide power for 155,000 homes annually.

Clark said: “The inescapable conclusion is that, however novel and appealing the proposal is, the costs would be so much higher than alternative sources of low-carbon power.

“Securing our energy needs into the future has to be done seriously and, when much cheaper alternatives exist, no individual project, and no particular technology, can proceed at any price.”

The lagoon had already received £200m in funding from the Welsh government, while around 120 local people from South Wales had invested in the development.

Tidal Lagoon Power said the project would have delivered 320MW of green energy capacity, provided reliable power output for 120 years, and sustained 2,232 jobs in the process.

However, Clark disputed this, arguing the scheme would only have supported 28 jobs directly in the long run, and cost up to £20bn more than generating the same amount of electricity through a mix of offshore wind and nuclear.

It was also estimated that the lagoon would have cost the average household an additional £700 between 2031 and 2050.

Welsh first minister, Carwyn Jones, described the government’s decision to pull the plug as a “crushing blow to Wales”, while the Green Party said the move was a missed opportunity.

“Once again, we have seen that the Westminster government has no vision for what a fossil-free future will look like,” Green Party deputy leader, Amelia Womack, said.

“This was a fantastic opportunity to use the country’s existing green potential to provide for its citizens, as this pilot scheme could have been expanded across the country.” 


Image credit: Tidal Lagoon Power 


Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM

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