Ecotricity floats ‘cheaper’ tidal lagoon options

Illustration/Offshore tidal lagoon concept (Image: Tidal Electric)

Green outfit Ecotricity has presented the UK government with two alternative offshore tidal lagoon proposals – said to be able to produce the same amount of energy as Swansea Bay tidal lagoon scheme for half the cost.

The two new plans unveiled today are in the Solway Firth, one on the English side of the border and the other on the Scottish side.

Illustration/Offshore tidal lagoon concept (Image: Tidal Electric)

Both projects would generate as much electricity as the Swansea Bay proposal, but at half the cost to build, which means they can make electricity for half the cost, according to Ecotricity.

The proposals were presented ahead of a joint select committee review of the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon project and the delay in the government’s decision-making process for the scheme.

The economics of these proposals are delivered by siting the lagoons offshore instead of onshore, as offshore lagoons cost less to build, Ecotricity said.

Moreover, Ecotricity said it formed a partnership with Tidal Electric – the originators of the tidal lagoon concept – to develop the Solway sites – signaling to the government that they are ready to take part in a competitive process, to ensure value for public money, the company said.

Dale Vince, Founder of Ecotricity, said: “The government has done well to resist the last couple of years of intense lobbying pressure from backers of the Swansea scheme – there was never a case for paying that much or for moving too quickly to allow for proper competition.

“In the last year the asking price for the Swansea project appears to have dropped considerably (by up to half) – that’s a valuable use of time by the government. But there’s more to go.

“The reasons cited by Hendry to move quickly to support this expensive first tidal lagoon project (Swansea) have all fallen away. The case for an open competitive process, to kick start this nascent industry and ensure value for public money, remains compelling.

“Offshore wind is a great example of the process, it has been a tremendous success for the government. Starting out at almost twice the price of onshore wind it has fallen in price by 50% in the last three years. This same competitive process could be used to bring new tidal projects forward.

“The projects we have unveiled today are ready to take part in a proper process. There is no need to rush; done properly tidal lagoons could play a big part in our future energy mix, and in lowering our energy bills. There are other companies and other projects that would take part in a proper process.”

Starting today, May 9, 2018, the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Welsh Affairs Committee will begin taking evidence from a range of participants, including ministers, the author of the Hendry report – Charles Hendry, and Mark Shorrock, Chief Executive of Tidal Lagoon Power, the company behind the Swansea tidal lagoon proposal.