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Welsh Government launches tidal lagoon research challenge

25 Mar 2023 3 minute read
Swansea bay tidal lagoon

First Minister Mark Drakeford has announced funding of £750,000 for research into the development of tidal lagoon technology.

The money will be available to at least three research projects focusing on the deployment of the technology off the coastline of Wales.

The research will help address the barriers that have prevented the development of the technology and give more insight into the benefits it could bring to Wales, Mr Drakeford said.

The First Minister added: “Our ambition is to make Wales a world centre for emerging tidal technology.

“We cannot deliver this by ourselves. We need to work in partnership with the industry to build the right environment for the sector to flourish.

“The research will make a significant contribution to delivering a future tidal lagoon project in Wales and move the sector forward as a whole.”

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.

Efficient

Tidal lagoons are 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 have also been estimated to be about four times longer than offshore wind farms.

The Tidal Range Alliance, a group that brings together developers, companies, and supply chain businesses involved in tidal range energy projects, have welcomed the new initiative.

Ioan Jenkins, chair of the Tidal Range Alliance said: “The Tidal Range Alliance is pleased the Welsh Government remains committed to delivering tidal range and ensuring this vital technology delivers secure, renewable power, as well as jobs and investment for Wales and the UK.

“The technology has already been proven at scale and this research will help provide the evidence that will unlock the first wave of tidal range projects, here in Wales.”

There are currently plans for two 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.

Legal ruling

The company which wanted to build the UK’s first ever tidal energy lagoon in Swansea Bay lost its appeal against a legal ruling that it failed to commence work on the project 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 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.


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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
11 months ago

Tidal energy has been around for a thousand years, I assumed that a great deal of money had already been extended on the subject, what is there to show for that investment?

Who are the Tidal Range Alliance? Time for a closer look…

Geraint
Geraint
11 months ago

Tidal ranges around the Welsh coastline are some of the highest in the world. A natural resource that has the potential to produce huge amounts of energy and give us a massive economic advantage against competitors.
£750,000 is a very small figure in relation to infrastructure costs. Currently a mile of motorway costs £30m and a mile of the HS2 is costing £300m a mile.

Frank
Frank
11 months ago

I can only see this as a means to generously line some highly overpaid advisors and will end with the project put on the back boiler or falling flat on its face. Perhaps they should call it an England and Wales project to gain access to cash.

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