Tidal Lagoon Power, developer of the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon project, has secured the grid connection for a 3240MW capacity tidal lagoon located between Cardiff and Newport.
The project has been selected as the first to employ at full-scale the blueprint being established by the pathfinder Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon, a consented, world-first project awaiting final sign off by the UK Government in the coming weeks.
“Today we have secured the grid connection for a tidal power station equal in installed capacity to Hinkley Point C,” said Tidal Lagoon Power’s chief executive, Mark Shorrock. “Looking at the pounds per megawatt hour unit cost of new build power stations, nuclear is currently priced in the nineties, the latest offshore wind projects are expected to drop into the seventies and our models show Cardiff Tidal Lagoon beating them all in the sixties.
“What’s more, by leveraging the commanding position taken by UK industry preparing for Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon, the supply chain contracts awarded for Cardiff Tidal Lagoon will be worth more than £6 billion to UK companies”.
In January this year, the Hendry Review, an independent report to Government by former Conservative energy minister Charles Hendry, concluded that Cardiff Tidal Lagoon could generate power that is “less expensive than offshore wind and significantly less expensive than nuclear”. It found that contracting Cardiff Tidal Lagoon’s 5,500GWh annual output adds less than 50p on average to annual household electricity bills, versus £2.39 for a 5,500GWh portion of Hinkley Point C’s contracted annual output.
When operating in pumping mode, Cardiff Tidal Lagoon could act as a flexible load for the grid, with up to 2171MW of demand permitted under the agreement with National Grid. Crucially, this could be timed to facilitate the integration of more intermittent wind and solar power and more inflexible nuclear power into the future energy system. A portfolio of geographically dispersed tidal lagoons could further enhance these system benefits.
Phil Sheppard, National Grid’s Director of UK System Operator, said: “Tidal power presents a reliable and predictable source of renewable generation that has the potential for highly flexible operation in the future. We have worked alongside tidal lagoon developers to gain an understanding of the operational characteristics of the proposed lagoons. This infrastructure project will have a significant impact as we move towards an increasingly low carbon electricity network.”
Leader of Cardiff Council, Cllr Huw Thomas, added: “We welcome this development as an important milestone in progressing a hugely exciting and potentially transformative project for Cardiff and the wider region. The National Grid deal could play a key role in driving the project forward, making this extraordinary vision a reality. There’s little doubt the opportunities are huge. Thousands of jobs could be created delivering low carbon energy. Cardiff and the city region could become renowned across the world for driving green technologies. 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 capitalise on the opportunities a project of this scale offers.”
Current plans for Cardiff Tidal Lagoon comprise a 20.5km breakwater wall housing up to 108 tidal lagoon turbines within at least two powerhouse units. By enclosing approximately 70km2 of the Severn Estuary, the project would pass an average of some 600 million cubic metres of water through its turbines on each tidal cycle, more than 11 times the volume of water available to the pathfinder at Swansea Bay.
According to the Severn Vision Partnership Project, up to 7% of the intertidal area in the estuary could be lost to sea level rise by 2055, resulting in the loss of up to 40% of total saltmarsh habitat. While affecting some intertidal and subtidal habitats, the Cardiff Tidal Lagoon would offer protection to a large stretch of the habitat under threat while providing additional feeding opportunities to overwintering and resident birds. The associated Ecosystems Enhancement Programme will look for further opportunities to enhance and create new habitat within the Severn Estuary and further afield, as well as supporting measures to improve the migration, spawning and escapement for key migratory and resident fish species.
“This exciting new project is fantastic news for our city and our partners in the Cardiff Capital Region,” said Debbie Wilcox, leader of Newport City Council. “It represents a massive boost in confidence in the region and the promise of cleaner, cheaper power and thousands of jobs is very welcome. We wish Tidal Lagoon Power all the best in pulling together such a successful project.”