Details of £1.7 billion Tidal tech scheme announced for Swansea docks
Richard Youle, local democracy reporter
Details of a £1.7 billion energy, technology and residential development at Swansea docks have been unveiled.
The Blue Eden project will include battery manufacturing and storage, a solar farm, data centre, houses, flats, oceanic and climate change research centre, and tidal energy lagoon.
It is expected to take 12 years to deliver in full, create 2,500 permanent jobs, and will require planning permission among other consents.
Blue Eden is being led by Bridgend-based firm DST Innovations and is not expected to require any public subsidy.
Tony Miles, co-founder and chief executive of DST Innovations, said: “Blue Eden is an opportunity to create a template for the world to follow – utilising renewable energy and maximising new technologies and thinking to develop not only a place to live and work, but also to thrive.”
He added: “I am extremely dedicated to this project in every which way you can imagine.”
The entrepreneur said he had a “fantastic team” and that expertise was being drawn in from around the world.
DST Innovations is in discussions with the owners of Swansea docks, Associated British Ports (ABP), about the project.
Blue Eden will be delivered on land and water south of the Prince of Wales dock, in three phases.
– Phase one (five years): battery manufacturing facility, battery storage facility to store the renewable energy produced on site, floating solar farm in the Queen’s dock, data storage centre.
– Phase two (two years): oceanic and climate change research centre, three visitor domes.
– Phase three (five years): waterfront houses and flats for up to 5,000 people, commercial space, 144 floating homes anchored in Queen’s dock, tidal energy lagoon generating electricity via turbines at the far end of a 9.5km seawall.
Just over 1,000 people will work at the battery manufacturing facility, with a further 1,500 at the data centre.
There will also be construction jobs and an estimated 16,000 supply chain jobs in Wales and the UK.
The residential element will include affordable housing and assisted living for people who needed a bit of help to remain independent.
Every property will have up to 20 years of renewable energy and heat provision included with the sale.
If all went to plan, and subject to the necessary consents, work could start on site early in 2023.
In the future there is the potential for the solar farm at Blue Eden to be expanded, and wind turbines and hydrogen production to be added.
The project draws ideas from the Dragon Energy Island concept – featuring a lagoon, solar farm and houses – which was developed by a regional task force led by Swansea Council.
Council leader Rob Stewart said: “I’m delighted that an international consortium led by a Welsh company has developed our Dragon Energy Island vision into a ground-breaking project that delivers so many benefits and builds on the council’s ambition to become a net zero city by 2050.
“Blue Eden will put Swansea and Wales at the cutting-edge of global renewable energy innovation, helping create thousands of well-paid jobs, significantly cut our carbon footprint and further raise Swansea’s profile across the world as a place to invest.”
Andrew Harston, a director at ABP, confirmed the company was in discussions about the project.
“This innovative prototype has the potential to be a first for the UK and bring Britain closer to our net zero target,” he said.
Julie James, MS for Swansea West, said: “It’s so exciting to see this Swansea-based project moving forward at such an important time for Wales and the world.”
Tidal and hydropower organisations have also welcomed Blue Eden. Harnessing the power of the tides in the UK could, say tidal energy backers, generate five to 10% of the UK’s electricity needs.
Opposition leader in Swansea, Cllr Chris Holley, said the project sounded excellent.
“The battery facility is wonderful news,” he said. “It’s something that’s desperately needed in Wales and the UK and it’s marvellous it’s coming to Swansea.”
A £1.3 billion tidal energy lagoon looked on the cards for Swansea after it was given planning consent in 2015, but it has not materialised.
The Welsh Government and Swansea Council say the planning permission, called a development consent order, has expired.
However, the company behind it, Tidal Power plc, is seeking a court ruling to say that it satisfied the consent order and therefore has permission in perpetuity.
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