Swansea Bay turned down for offshore wind

Swansea Tidal LagoonThe Swansea Bay tidal lagoon project has been cancelled by the government after analysis of the costs to build it and how it would effect the cost of electricity has been completed.

The UK Government state that the construction of the Swansea tidal lagoon is estimated to be around £1.3 billion, and that if it performed at its maximum output it would provide around 0.15% of the electricity we use each year. To put this in perspective, the Government says that to build equivalent power generation over a period of 60 years from offshore wind would only cost £400 million.

The Hendry Review found that if the full programme of six lagoons were constructed it would cost a total of £50 billion. For offshore wind to have the same power generation, it could cost as much as £31.5 billion less.

Tidal energy is also less reliable with the generation being variable rather than constant. It is estimated to have a load factor of 19% whereas offshore wind has a load factor of 50%.

IDTechEx analyst on zero emission energy, Dr Peter Harrop commented, “The media coverage is highly emotional and rejoinders by those proposing and supporting the scheme miss the point. Yes, its long term costs are comparable to nuclear power supported by the government with a recent commitment to a large nuclear power station. However, the parliamentary watchdog committee subsequently assessed that as being a mistake, unnecessarily wasting money when wind and solar with energy storage would be more economical for base power.

"Comparisons with offshore wind are also misleading. The cost of solar power is dropping much faster than wind power and it will go below even onshore wind within a few years, with energy storage dropping in cost as well. The massive concrete and steel structures of tidal barriers, river dams and offshore wind are increasingly questioned with many zero infrastructure options coming in such as the invisible 1.5MW turbines in open sea feeding into the grid in Scotland and orders reaching 100MW at a time for invisible wave power farms with no infrastructure.

"Both tidal and wave power are virtually baseload, some wave power working well with only one meter waves and some tides turning in only 5-10 minutes. A bridge in France is being built with tidal turbines in it: no separate infrastructure. The way of the future is invisible zero emission harvesting that is almost continuous. There is even a bigger picture here with making electricity where you need it. Invisible building integrated photovoltaics and solar roads lets us abandon ugly, expensive power lines from the grid. Indeed, in the next two years, four companies promise solar cars needing no charging infrastructure.”

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