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Council seeks government support to advance tidal lagoon plans

20 Sep 2021 3 minutes Read
An image of how Dragon Energy Island in Swansea Bay might look (pic supplied previously by Swansea Council and free for use for all BBC wire partners)

Richard Youle, local democracy reporter

Swansea Council has asked for funding to develop a business case for a tidal lagoon with floating houses and a solar farm.

It has applied to the UK Government for the money and is committed to seeing the Dragon Energy Island project materialise, a cabinet member said.

Cllr Andrea Lewis, who has the climate change portfolio, told the council’s scrutiny programme committee that the authority was also in discussions with the Welsh Government about the energy and infrastructure proposal for Swansea Bay.

Asked by Cllr Peter Jones if it was a realistic prospect, she said: “We are still very much committed to delivering Dragon Energy Island.”

She said she expected to hear shortly if the bid for outline business case funding was successful, and that the council would look to procure a private sector partner at a later stage.

The Dragon Energy Island proposition includes underwater data servers and up to 10,000 floating homes and businesses as well as tidal turbines and the solar farm.

‘A game changer’

Cllr Lewis described it as “hugely exciting” and “a game changer”, and that – if replicated elsewhere – an industry which would help the UK become self-sustainable in terms of energy.

Separately, a Bridgend-based company called DST Innovations said last November that it was putting together a consortium to deliver Dragon Energy Island.

Between March and May this year the Welsh Government carried out a marketing exercise to ascertain what level of support there was for such a project. It received written submissions from 27 organisations.

A planned Swansea Bay tidal lagoon cleared the development consent hurdle in 2015, but the project hasn’t materialised because of a lack of UK Government support needed to guarantee that project’s viability.

Green gas

Meanwhile, the scrutiny committee also heard that the council had an opportunity to buy “green” gas instead of natural gas from its supplier.

A council officer explained that green gas came from organic waste and plant material, but prices would need to be explored.

Cllr Jeff Jones asked if green gas could conflict with a potential future use of hydrogen to heat council houses and other properties.

Cllr Lewis said there wasn’t a straightforward answer, because it depended on how the grid evolved.

There could be some use of hydrogen for heating, she said, while a full replacement of hydrogen for gas would require the widespread installation of plastic pipes to prevent leaks.

Air source heat pumps, powered by electricity, could also be a contender.

Cllr Lewis added that a hydrogen fuelling station being explored by Swansea University for Fabian Way would allow the council to consider hydrogen-powered vehicles for its fleet in the future.

She also said the council expected to submit a planning application for a three-megawatt solar farm at Tir John landfill site, Port Tennant, early next year. The solar farm could be trebled in size, she said, once Tir John was filled and capped.

Cllr Peter Jones said all low-carbon measures were welcome because the expected global temperature rise, based on present and likely policies, was “disastrous”.

“Is there anything more we can do as a council?” he asked.

Cllr Lewis replied: “In short more money, more resource and probably more delegated powers.”

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Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
1 month ago

Sounds good, except that the floating houses will get snapped up by second home owners.

Glen
Glen
1 month ago
Reply to  Barry Pandy

I’d imagine these proposed houses would be virtually uninhabitable when winter storms hit anyway.

A floating house in a 90mph gale sounds fun.

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
1 month ago
Reply to  Glen

And if climate change gets worse we might get actual hurricanes rather than the pretend ones that the melodramatic English southerners moan about. That would be fun in a floating home.

Dr John Ball
Dr John Ball
1 month ago

Can we please have an end to this nonsense. It’s good politics to be green, even if the idea is unsound – and there’s an election due. In a nutshell. The design is such that any electricity produced will be very expensive. None of the equipment needed can be produced in Wales or even the UK for that matter. Initial initial contracts were won by Chinese firms. The jobs created (I always like this bit…exaggerate as ever) will be in construction, again these skills don’t exist here so any employment will be for outsiders. -. and of course after construction… Read more »

j humphrys
j humphrys
1 month ago
Reply to  Dr John Ball

Think it’s time people started questioning “Green” ventures. Is it genuine ecology?

Dai Rob
Dai Rob
1 month ago

What utter nonsense, it will never happen thankfully! The Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon would be the most environmentally damaging, most uneconomic basket case, anywhere in the world, and would be a noose around Wales neck for the next hundred years, and our beautiful bay would be destroyed FOREVER!!!

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
1 month ago
Reply to  Dai Rob

Unlike nuclear power of course.

Glen
Glen
1 month ago

Can’t believe they are still flogging this long dead horse.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
1 month ago

Won’t happen. End of.

Stephen Owen
Stephen Owen
1 month ago

Wales already generates far more electricity than it needs

j humphrys
j humphrys
1 month ago
Reply to  Stephen Owen

We can generate more for money. But not at the expense of beauty, surely?

Phil Jones
Phil Jones
1 month ago

Richard, you should know better than to say “A planned Swansea Bay tidal lagoon cleared the development consent hurdle in 2015, but the project hasn’t materialised because of a lack of UK Government support needed to guarantee that project’s viability.” It obtained consent in 2015 subject to a load of conditions which it failed to meet, so the Council poulled the plug when the consent expired after 5 years. It FAILED to obtain the necessary Marine Licence from NRW, because of the likely harm to fisheries. It failed to get the UK Gov generating subsidy it was seeking but that… Read more »

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