International consortium unveils £1.7B tidal lagoon plan for Swansea

A £1.7 billion project, expected to create thousands of well-paid jobs and place Wales at the forefront of renewable energy innovation, has been announced by an international consortium.

Image showing the Blue Eden project plan (Courtesy of DST Innovations)
Blue Eden project plan (Courtesy of DST Innovations)

Described as ground-breaking project for Swansea’s waterfront, the proposed scheme will include a newly-designed tidal lagoon, featuring state-of-the-art underwater turbines generating 320MW of renewable energy from the 9.5 kilometres structure.

The lagoon is part of the larger proposed Blue Eden project that’s being led by Welsh-based DST Innovations and a number of business partners, with support from Swansea Council and Associated British Ports.

Made possible by funding from the private sector, the innovative and economy-boosting Blue Eden will be delivered in three phases over 12 years.

The project plan also includes a 60,000 square metre manufacturing plant to make high-tech batteries for renewable energy storage, and a battery facility that will store the renewable energy produced at Blue Eden and power the site.

If constructed now, it would be the world’s largest facility of its kind, according to project developers.

In addition, a 72,000 square metre floating solar array is planned to be anchored in the Queen’s dock area, helping offset CO2 emissions by an estimated two million kilogrammes a year.

This also would be the UK’s largest facility of its kind, with potential for expansion, the project developers said.

In addition, the project envisions a data centre for storing, processing and providing network capabilities for the critical services needed in modern day operations that will be entirely powered by an uninterruptable renewable energy power supply.

Furthermore, the project also plans to include an oceanic and climate change research centre, foating dome structures that will become cultural and scientific centres, residential waterfront homes for 5,000 people, and approximately 150 floating, highly energy-efficient eco-homes anchored in the water.

Blue Eden will be sited along an extensive area of land and water, to the south of the Prince of Wales Dock in the SA1 area of Swansea.

All the project’s buildings and facilities, including the eco-homes, will be situated alongside the lagoon and will utilise and enhance the existing land in the area.

Clean energy innovation a template for world to follow

Blue Eden is expected to create over 2,500 permanent jobs and support a further 16,000 jobs across Wales and the UK, while creating additional jobs during its construction.

Renewable energy produced on site will power the entire Blue Eden development, including businesses and a mixed development of affordable housing, assisted living areas and luxury apartments. Due to the innovation on-site, each home will have up to 20 years’ renewable energy and heat provision included with the sale of the properties.

The announcement comes as world leaders prepare to gather in Glasgow later this week for the COP26 summit to tackle climate change.

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”.

The project has been developed following discussions based on a vision put forward by a regional task force led by Swansea Council.

Rob Stewart, Swansea Council leader, said: “We are aware now more than ever of the need to develop renewable energy supplies to provide sustainable and affordable electricity to families and businesses.

“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.

“This project truly is a game-changer for Swansea, its economy and renewable energy in the UK, and crucially it can be delivered without the need for government subsidies”.

Andrew Harston, director of Wales and Short Sea Ports for ABP, said: “We are engaged in discussions around the Blue Eden project which could deliver renewable energy, new homes and skilled jobs. This innovative prototype has the potential to be a first for the UK and bring Britain closer to our net-zero target”.

In a joint statement, Henry Dixon, chair of the Tidal Range Alliance, and Simon Hamlyn, chief executive of the British Hydropower Association, said: “The innovative and exciting Blue Eden project underlines the value of reliable renewable energy generation from a tidal lagoon.

“At a time when future energy security and stability is being questioned, the Tidal Range Alliance welcomes the launch of DST Innovation’s project.

“Alongside other schemes along the west coast of the UK, tidal range power generation has the potential to supply 5% to 10% of the country’s energy needs, reliably and predictably, unlike other intermittent renewables such as wind and solar”.

Subject to planning consent, Blue Eden work on site could start by early 2023.