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£7 billion tidal lagoon could generate enough electricity to power every home in Wales

04 Apr 2022 4 minute read
Henry Dixon. Photo Ginger Pixie Photography.

Richard Evans, local democracy reporter

A £7 billion tidal lagoon could create 22,000 north Wales jobs, generating enough electricity to power every home in Wales, says the man at the helm of a project with the potential to transform the region.

Former High Sheriff of Clwyd Henry Dixon is from a family of bridge builders but now has his eyes set on the revolutionary lagoon, which will stretch out between Prestatyn and Llandudno.

Wrexham’s Glyndwr University has carried out an economic impact assessment, which predicts the lagoon generating an additional 22,000 jobs.

The figure includes the 500 jobs created during the five-year planning stage, the 6,000 or 7,000 at the point of construction, and the many thousands of opportunities predicted to spring up around the lagoon – such as water sports businesses, tourist centres, and even new mussel farms harvested on the rock walls.

Whilst the total cost of the project is around £7 billion, North Wales Tidal Energy needs around £50m to get the project going, largely for environmental impact assessments. Once complete, it is estimated the tidal lagoon could generate around £500m a year for the next 120 years.

One month ago, Denbighshire councillors voted in favour of a motion to back the scheme in principle whilst Conwy County Council has set up a task and finish group to look at the options. North Wales Tidal Energy is now lobbying both the Welsh and UK governments for funding.

But the lagoon, if or when it is built, would be considered a National Strategic Infrastructure project, meaning UK Government would have the final say.

Bridge builders

Mr Dixon is the chairman of North Wales Tidal Energy, which was set up in 2014, and comes from a long line of bridge builders, his great-grandfather having set up the Cleveland Bridge and Engineering Company who built the Victoria Falls Bridge in Africa, as well as the Severn, Fourth, and Humber suspension bridges.  Mr Dixon said the project would transform the area – if the company finds the initial £50m start-up costs.

“I think the North Wales Economic Ambition Board is considering adopting it (the project), the way that Denbighshire and Conwy have adopted it, the way that MPs have adopted it,” he said.

“We just need to get the Welsh Government and the British government to help with the funding to get it going. Once we are up and running, then we can answer all the questions and concerns people have got, and we can get this thing built, which will be truly transformational for North Wales.”

North Wales Tidal Lagoon

He added: “The lagoon will generate enough electricity for every home in Wales.

“In a year it will generate five tera-watt hours, which is enough for a million homes. I’m not saying it will just be Wales’s electricity, but I’m trying to put it on a scale that will be useful.”

But Mr Dixon believes the scheme could attract serious private investment.

“There are many institutional funds, sovereign funds, insurance companies, and pension companies who like the idea of an asset like a tidal lagoon that will last for over one hundred years and generate a significant amount of revenue because of the energy it is generating,” he said.

“So there is a real interest in funding that sort of lagoon once we have permission. The difficulty is getting from here to there and finding the first £50m.”

Mr Dixon explained the timeline involved to get the lagoon operational.

“It would be 10 years. It would be five years to get permission and consent and to do all those environmental studies, the land rights, the marine licence,” said Mr Dixon.

“Then it would take five years to build the wall, the turbines, and the grid connection. If you wrote me a cheque tomorrow, by 2032 we would be up and running and producing a huge amount of electricity. It is a nuclear power plant that doesn’t use nuclear energy. It uses the tide.”

He said, “Yes, it’ll take 10 years, but that’s less than a nuclear plant, and it’ll last twice as long.

“It’s exciting. It’s not just the energy as I keep on saying. It’s the impact it would have in North Wales, providing really good jobs in North Wales for North Walian.


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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
4 months ago

If it could be done without Westminster involvement it would be way more attractive…

Mark
Mark
4 months ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Westminster will never allow a project like this to happen. Energy independence would strengthen the case for political independence.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
4 months ago
Reply to  Mark

‘If’ meant ‘I wish’ in this case Mark…live in Hope die in Caergwrle as they say…

lufcwls
lufcwls
4 months ago
Reply to  Mark

We already are energy independent. We produce twice the amount we consume.

Erisian
Erisian
4 months ago

If it’s so attractive why do they need Welsh and UK taxpayer money?

I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
4 months ago

Good if it powers small industry, which I have been hoping for for many years, and build the Clwyd City from Prestatyn to Conwy. Generate happiness, demolish those gloomy old places and move to Clwyd City.

Grayham Jones
4 months ago

Yes it’s time to start selling itself it’s time for a new wales kick all English party’s out of wales that’s the Tories Labour and all Brexit party’s vote Plaid Cymru for a new wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 all business in wales must be run by welsh people only not incomers so all the money stays in wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿

Rhobert Griffith
Rhobert Griffith
4 months ago
Reply to  Grayham Jones

Plaid are Welsh toffs everyone knows that. Except for Plaid toffs that is. My grat uncle used to love baiting Plaid toffs in the Skinners in Aber. As a full Welsh miner it was his summer holiday holiday.

Dr John Ball
Dr John Ball
4 months ago

Is the date wrong? Should this have been published on April First?

We’ve been here before, grand and badly thought out schemes that in one fell swoop solve the energy crisis and provide zillions of jobs.

hdavies15
hdavies15
4 months ago
Reply to  Dr John Ball

Such is the nature of modern green gospels. I use the plural because we get a new version regularly. There’s always a fantastic zero carbon outcome but the pollution caused in producing and maintaining it means that zero is always some remote goal. I used to have dog that chased its own tail. That was cheaper to maintain and could have generated power if only I’d thought of fitting the mutt to a dynamo system !

Dave
Dave
4 months ago
Reply to  Dr John Ball

I’m confused John, why is the idea a bad one? genuine question, looking to be informed, not having a dig.

Dr John Ball
Dr John Ball
4 months ago
Reply to  Dave

Hi Dave I’m not sure how long these threads last but I will reply. In a nutshell – research has suggested that technology on this scale remains unproven; smaller schemes have proved to be expensive to establish and- if producing at all – are producing expensive power that requires subsidy. There is the environmental issue, do we really want a great big concrete block across a lovely bay? Nothing like enough is being done to reduce power needs: for example insulation, new buildings designed not to require endless electricity consumption. It is however the the economic claims that truly bother… Read more »

Erisian
Erisian
4 months ago

Funny how people here support wasting money on scheme like this but not on things important to the Welsh working class like education and crime.

Morris Dean
Morris Dean
4 months ago

A project like this (not sure about the specifics of this one!) could prove a critical component in coastal defence for low-lying communities in north Wales. Surprised that point isn’t being made by the promoters.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
4 months ago
Reply to  Morris Dean

If I was the mayor of Fairbourne with that long south west facing seawall I would be very interested in your idea…I had the same thought last evening MD specifically about Fairbourne. The Fairbourne Railway could then go electric and carry building materials and workers up and down the site…

Last edited 4 months ago by Mab Meirion
Mr Williams
Mr Williams
4 months ago

Let’s get it done!

Iorwerth ap Wyllt
Iorwerth ap Wyllt
4 months ago

This idea is far more attractive than nuclear power, and it would allow us to finally decommission those natural gas power plants and let us become an entirely renewable energy country.

Not to mention, this is a stepping stone to protecting our shores from the rising tide as the ocean swells over this century.

The industrial revolution started here in Wales, it would only be fitting for us to kick-start the green revolution by becoming the world’s largest green energy exporter.

A D
A D
4 months ago

The reason it got cancelled the first time was because the people building it wanted a huge guaranteed amount for each MWh produced.

They wanted £1.50 for each MWh they produced compared to 92p p/MWh for Hinckley Point (nuclear) and 62p for offshore wind (and that was 2018, offshore with integrated wave power is now even cheaper)

The numbers sound good but it would cost everyone too much money to use.

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