Welsh Government launches £750,000 tidal lagoon challenge
The Welsh Government has officially launched its £750,000 challenge to researchers into the development of tidal lagoon technology.
First Minister Mark Drakeford originally announced funding for the challenge in March this year.
The money will be available to at least three research projects focusing on the deployment of the technology off the coastline of Wales.
The Welsh government will award the funds in three categories:
Engineering and technical
Finance and socio-economic.
Applications will be open until 18 September and the winners will be announced in spring 2024.
A tidal lagoon is a power station that generates electricity from the natural rise and fall of the tides.
A large volume of water is captured behind a man-made structure which is then released to drive turbines and generate electricity.
Tidal lagoons are seen as a more efficient way of producing energy than current offshore wind farms and deliver energy from an entirely predictable source, unlike the wind.
The operating life of tidal lagoon projects has also been estimated to be about four times longer than offshore wind farms.
Launching the competition, Welsh minister for climate change Julie James said: “We know that the climate and nature emergencies are some of the most pressing issues we face. In light of these dual crises, it is imperative that we utilise all of our resources to reduce our energy consumption, but also to generate more clean energy.
“In Wales we are uniquely blessed with the second highest tidal range in the world, providing us opportunities to utilise the huge renewable energy resource on our coastline to help address the climate emergency.
“That is why, as part of our Programme for Government, we set out that we would hold a tidal lagoon challenge, as part of our commitment to make Wales a world centre for emerging tidal technologies.
“We believe the tidal lagoon challenge has an important role to play in realising the Welsh Government’s ambition for a tidal lagoon to be developed in Welsh waters. I am excited to see the bold ideas and thinking that applicants will share with us and look forward to the outcomes of the research.”
There are currently plans for three tidal lagoon projects in Wales.
The multi-billion-pound Blue Eden renewable energy project featuring a tidal lagoon is set to go ahead in Swansea and Conwy and Denbighshire councils have given official backing to a £7 billion tidal lagoon project off the Conwy and Denbighshire coast.
There are also plans for a tidal lagoon to be constructed adjacent to the Port of Mostyn in the Dee estuary.
An earlier scheme for what would have been the UK’s first ever tidal energy lagoon in Swansea Bay failed to get off the ground.
The company behind the project lost its appeal against a legal ruling that it failed to commence work on the lagoon within five years of winning planning approval in December last year.
The decision means the development consent order (DCO) for the project is no longer valid.
Tidal Lagoon Power submitted its plans for the project, which would form a lagoon between the River Tawe and the River Neath in February 2014 and the project received its DCO in June 2015.
Ground investigation and survey works were undertaken by the developer in November 2016, but these were not considered as “material operations” so did not count as the project having commenced.
The project ran into financial problems the following year and despite the Welsh government’s willingness to pay £200M towards the scheme, the UK Government said the project was poor value for money and there would be no funds forthcoming.
Since the failure of that scheme, it has become even more difficult for potential developers to gain consent for new tidal range project.
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