NWTE writes to Welsh Affairs Committee and BEIS Committee

The BEIS Committee and the Welsh Affairs Committee looked at the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon and investigated delays and obstacles in the decision-making process at a joint session on 9th May.

The Committees examined the steps and stakeholders involved in the decision process and the reasons for the Government’s failure to reach a decision on whether it will support the Lagoon, since exploratory discussions with the Government began in 2013.

NWTE wrote to each member of the Committee and other key stakeholders to ensure that our views were known. A copy of our submission is below:

We write regarding the planned Joint Committee scrutiny of the decision-making process for the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon project on 9th May.

You may be interested to know in advance of the meeting that North Wales Tidal Energy and Coastal Protection Ltd (NWTE) has been progressing pre-feasibility design, engineering and environmental work into the potential for a tidal lagoon to be constructed between Prestatyn and Llandudno.

The company contributed to the Hendry Review and we have monitored the extensive media, third-party comment and the Government’s response to that review since then with much interest.

The announcement of the Joint Committee Review of the delayed response to the Hendry Review and a go/no go decision on the Swansea Bay projects is timely. NWTE would welcome clarity from the Government on its interest and support both for tidal range as a sector and, in particular, for the Swansea Bay pathfinder lagoon.

Renewable energy. Security. Jobs.

The Hendry Review provided an excellent overview of the potential of tidal range to contribute cost-effectively to the UK’s energy security, carbon emissions targets and Grid stability over the long-term – as well as providing a platform for significant job creation across the country.

We would request that the Committee seeks reassurance that the Government’s strategic direction for tidal range as an important potential contributor to the country’s future energy mix is not conflated with, and driven by, an assessment of the sectors’ pathfinder project.

Economies of scale.

The Hendry Review recognises the valuable role of the Swansea Bay project as a pathfinder lagoon. Many lessons from its development are already being learned and for future, larger tidal lagoons the economies of scale and additional benefits will greatly improve the economics.

This is best illustrated by the potential performance of lagoons in, for example, Cardiff and North Wales where over 10 times the amount of power will be generated at each site although their sea walls are just three times longer. NWTE recently completed a pre-feasibility assessment of its project which determined that the project as conceived, and based on independent finance, could deliver a long-term power price of between 15% and 25% below new nuclear.

Added value of coastal protection.

The job creation, supply chain benefits and carbon mitigation offered by tidal lagoons are well recognised.

Less so is the added coastal protection offered by tidal lagoons – a critical factor is locations such as North Wales and the Somerset Levels.

Coastal and flooding protection causes immense socio-economic damage and is forecast to increase dramatically in coming years as a result of Climate Change. A tidal lagoon sited to meet local needs can mitigate significantly the impacts of projected sea-level rise as well as providing a means of off-setting flood defence and maintenance costs.

An independent economic assessment of the accrued coastal protection benefits of a North Wales tidal lagoon was recently commissioned by NWTE. This report, using the Welsh Government’s own figures, shows that property and infrastructure, valued at £3.3 billion, is at risk of flooding in affected areas. A tidal lagoon of the scale proposed by NWTE (and others) on the North Wales coast would mitigate such impact and also dramatically reduce the cost to the Exchequer for sea wall creation and maintenance.

Independent assessment of large scale tidal lagoons.

No significant funding has been provided to assess independently the specific value proposition of large scale tidal range proposals such as Cardiff and North Wales.

Commissioning detailed studies into commercial scale tidal range schemes to provide empirical evidence of the full value proposition of each we suggest would be of value to you. Such an action, if commissioned expediently, could be completed within requisite timeframes under a Grant funding structure requiring each project consortium to provide the balance of funding which would also demonstrate their commitment.

Development of technologies and government roles.

The harnessing of tidal power is one way in which parliament and government can help secure our electricity needs. There is a complete alignment here with the great work that parliaments have done in aiding the development and deployment of wind farms on and off shore by structuring financial subsidies and markets that allowed investment. Ultimately this has been a huge success and now the costs of offshore wind power following investment have substantially fallen.

Tidal is unique as a renewable source because when linked with the new battery storage developments it can be configured to provide our national grid with quasi- baseload power. This needs to be factored into the equation because it creates a level of certainty in its availability that substantially enhances both its practical and economic value to the United Kingdom. We believe this further allows lowering of costs especially in the larger sized projects such as North Wales and Cardiff.