Council seeks government support to advance tidal lagoon plans
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.
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.”