Days after some members of Parliament questioned the government's commitment to tidal lagoon projects, developer Tidal Lagoon Power Ltd. secured a grid connection for an installation near Cardiff.
The offer, extended by National Grid Electricity Transmission, would allow TLP to construct a 3,240 MW plant that would build on a 320 MW pilot project proposed for Swansea Bay.
The Cardiff plant is being pitched in part as an alternative to the controversial 3,200-MW Hinkley Point C, which is a nuclear plant being constructed near Somerset, England.
"Today we have secured the grid connection for a tidal power station equal in installed capacity to Hinkley Point C," TLP chief executive Mark Shorrock said. "Looking at the pounds per MWh unit cost of new build power stations, nuclear is currently priced in the 90s, the latest offshore wind projects are expected to drop into the 70s, and our models show Cardiff Tidal Lagoon beating them all in the 60s."
About the project
As proposed, the Cardiff Tidal Lagoon would include a 20.5-kilometer long breakwater, dotted with up to 108 turbines along its length. The developer said around 600 million cubic meters of water will pass through these turbines during each tidal cycle, or about 11 times the volume projected for availability at Swansea Bay.
The project is projected to cost more than US$10.7 billion and could create over 3,000 jobs during its construction.
"We welcome this development as an important milestone in progressing a hugely exciting and potentially transformative project for Cardiff and the wider region," said Cllr Huw Thomas, leader of the Cardiff Council. " We look forward to sitting down with Tidal Lagoon Power to discuss their plans in detail. It’s important Cardiff, its residents and the wider region are all able to capitalize on the opportunities a project of this scale offers."
Firming the future for tidal lagoons
HydroWorld.com reported last week that some members of Parliament had questioned the government's lack of action in issuing a response to an independent review of the Swansea Bay project, potentially discouraging investors.
TLP has argued that projects like Swansea Bay, Cardiff and the other similar lagoons being pitched for UK shores would pay dividends, despite their high up-front cost.
According to a TLP report issued last October, the domestic market alone for Swansea Bay and other tidal lagoons would be worth an estimated $21.7 billion for turbines and generators, and $30.6 billion for turbine housings, in addition to more than $38 billion in combined exports.
Meanwhile, a 2015 report from Marine Energy Pembrokeshire noted that investments into the MHK supply chain had already contributed $27.6 million for tidal stream energy; $22.4 million for tidal range energy and $1.5 million for wave energy into the Welsh economy alone.