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ECA backs Welsh First Minister's tidal lagoon offer

15 January 2018

Welsh Government proposals to help kick start the long-delayed Swansea Bay tidal lagoon development through a substantial investment offer, have been backed by leading electrotechnical and engineering services trade body ECA.

The funding proposal from First Minister Carwyn Jones to the UK Government comes nearly a year after the independent Hendry review recommended the £1.3bn tidal lagoon project should be initiated. The Welsh Government has not yet revealed exactly how much it will offer to help the project.    

Proposals to build a series of tidal lagoons in Wales were firmly backed by ECA in a recent submission to the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC). Back in 2014, ECA also hosted 80 engineering SMEs at a summit near the planned Swansea tidal lagoon to outline its benefits to business and the community.

Progress on the tidal lagoon scheme has since stalled due to ongoing discussions about the UK Government subsidy, and the need for a marine licence. However, there are hopes among industry figures, including from ECA, that the Welsh Government announcement could signal a breakthrough.

Michelle Davies, South Wales Regional Manager for the ECA, said:

“ECA and many others in industry are keen to get the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon scheme moving, and we welcome this announcement from the First Minister.

“This is a world leading project that would provide huge opportunities for SMEs and many other businesses in the South Wales region and beyond.

“The Severn Estuary holds the second highest tidal range in the world. Bringing a large-scale, no carbon electrical energy project to Wales means the region could attract other inward investment, create jobs and showcase innovation. It’s high time to get this key project up-and-running.”

Britain is estimated to need many tens of billions of pounds of investment to boost and diversify its primary energy capacity and replace ageing power stations and power infrastructure. Tidal lagoons can provide predictable, no carbon and storable electrical energy, helping the UK maintain its energy capacity and security, while meeting its carbon reduction targets. The UK currently relies heavily on imported gas to produce electricity for the national grid.

The Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon is a major pilot project which would be able to power 155,000 homes. Building up to six large tidal lagoons around the West coast of Britain could provide approximately 8 percent of current UK electricity demand, over 120 years.

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