SIMEC Atlantis offers ‘golden’ alternative for UK tidal range

Wyre Estuary tidal barrage (Image: SIMEC Atlantis Energy)

Following the UK government’s rejection of the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon proposal, SIMEC Atlantis Energy has put the spotlight on its Wyre Estuary tidal barrage project calling it a ‘natural pathfinder’ for the larger planned lagoon projects.

In June 2017, the Duchy of Lancaster nominated Simec Atlantis Energy as their preferred partner to develop the proposed Wyre Estuary tidal barrage and flood protection project, situated between Fleetwood and Knott End on the Lancashire coast.

Wyre Estuary tidal barrage (Image: SIMEC Atlantis Energy)

SIMEC Atlantis Energy is currently in the process of completing feasibility studies in order to proceed to the next stage of design, engineering and consenting, after which the construction phase would be expected to commence in 2021, according to the company.

Commenting on the announcement of the UK government that it will not offer subsidy to the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon project, as it – and the proposed program of lagoons – do not represent value for money, Tim Cornelius, CEO of SIMEC Atlantis Energy, said:

“We believe our proposed project for the Wyre Estuary represents a golden opportunity for the government to reinforce its commitment tidal range technology. As well as generating predictable, zero carbon, sustainable power to the region, the project also offers flood protection capabilities for the local Wyre valley.

“With an expected CAPEX of £250 million and lifespan of 120 years, this project will have over 100MW of installed generation capacity and we expect that it will require a subsidy that is less than the CfD awarded to Hinkley Point and potentially less than Horizon. Therefore the Wyre Estuary project is the ideal, cost effective option to develop tidal range technology, as well as diversify the UK’s energy mix

“This project is the ideal pathfinder for a series of similar range projects being planned across the UK, including the Mersey, which only adds to its appeal as a sensible and good value investment proposition.

“This project will prove up the turbine technology required to make larger project viable and bankable. I would also expect that the Wyre project is the natural pathfinder project for the larger planned lagoon projects in locations such as Cardiff, Colwyn Bay and the Solway Firth. We are convinced that at larger scale, these projects will make sense and the government should now unlock this economic potential by supporting the construction of the Wyre project.”

Onus back on private sector for viable ‘pathfinder’ search, says European law firm

Responding to the UK government’s decision, Yohanna Weber, Environment and Planning Partner at the European law firm Fieldfisher, said:

“This decision comes as no surprise given the prolonged silence on the project’s future. The government is still painfully aware of the eye-watering strike price agreed for Hinkley Point C and is unwilling to spend similar, or more, on an untried and untested technology when the costs of other forms of renewable energy continue to drop.

“However, this needn’t mean the end of the line for tidal power in the UK. The Hendry Report still provides a solid platform for bringing forward tidal energy in the future and the Secretary of State has thrown down the gauntlet for pilot projects that can demonstrate better value for money.

“This decision simply puts the onus back on the private sector to find a workable and viable ‘pathfinder’ project, that relies less on public subsidy and more on the ingenuity and dynamism of business and industry.”