A six-mile long U-shaped seawall has been planned with an estimated cost of £850m for Swansea Bay to create a new tidal lagoon. The project has been proposed by Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay Ltd and could provide power for 120,000 homes.
The seawall will extend from Swansea docks to the new Fabian Way campus of Swansea University. Construction will take two years and will create 1,850 construction jobs. Once it has been made operational the facility will generate 60 long-term jobs.
The expectation is that the lagoon will have a 240MW nominal rated capacity and average 14 hours of electricity generation per day.
It is hoped that the tidal project will be operating by 2018.
The seawall would create a lagoon and it will be capable of holding 11 square kms of water. The water would be held and then let out through turbines at both high and low tides with electricity being generated at this time.
Water would flow from the lagoon into the sea at low tide and from the sea into the lagoon at high tide.
Mark Shorrock, chief executive of Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay, said: “Until now, tidal energy has been heavily promoted by governments and environmentalists as an intuitive source of clean and reliable energy for our island nation, but the business response has focused on relatively small-scale tidal stream devices.
“The UK has the second highest tidal range in the world and today we are submitting an application for a development that will prove that this resource can be harnessed in a way that makes economic, environmental and social sense.
“Tidal lagoons offer renewable energy at nuclear scale and thus the investment of hundreds of millions of pounds in UK industries and coastal communities.”
Part of the development will include the creation of a new visitor centre as well as a national triathlon and water sports facility. The visitor centre is proposed with a very distinctive oyster shell shaped design and it would be sited at the end of the lagoon’s seawall.
The Planning Inspectorate will scrutinise the case initially, but because of the size of the project exceeds 100 megawatts the UK government’s Energy Secretary Ed Davey has the final say as to whether it will go ahead.
According to the developer, research as part of the project’s initial stages found that 86% of local residents were in favour of the scheme.
Friends of the Earth (FoE) Cymru and Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust have backed the plans.
Gareth Clubb, from FoE, said: “Provided they meet strict environmental criteria, tidal lagoons can play a key role in building a low carbon future, supplying clean electricity to many thousands of homes.
“With its huge coastline, the UK has plenty of potential for developing more schemes like this, along with other renewable forms of energy.”