Friday, January 13, 2017

Green light for Green 'Lagoon' Power?

The Energy and Climate Change Committee is gone, deceased, defunct, but I'm still interested in energy generation projects. For many years, I've thought it must be possible to source energy from the power of the tides that surround the British coastline. Had high hopes for the Severn Barrage, but it wasn't to be. And then a few years ago, the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon floated into view. I would love to see it fly, but never been totally convinced it will, despite really wanting it to. Well maybe today is the start of the reassurance I've been looking for and an early sign of a brand new Tidal Lagoon technology.

Media running very positive headlines on the likelihood of £1.3 billion Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon winning the go-ahead from Govt on the back of the Hendry Report. My instinctive response is to be really pleased. I reckon most people will feel the same. I feel sure that one day we'll find a way of harnessing the power of the tide and maybe this is it. But I'm not sure that there has been any great move forward today that warrants all the positive headlines. I just cannot see what is that new today.

When Charles Hendry was asked to prepare a report, I expected it to be positive. Charles, who was a very good energy minister, has long been hugely enthusiastic about renewables. And nothing wrong with that. But what we have had today is a report which talks about spreading the capital costs of the project over the 120 yrs that a Lagoon in Swansea Bay is predicted to deliver power. That's what makes the power competitive. I reckon that will make the Chancellor choke over his corn flakes. But perhaps not. I was a bit disappointed that Charles considers contemplating further tidal lagoons around the coast of Britain as too ambitious a goal before even one is built. It's always been the case that Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon on its own has never seemed to me viable. It's a 'pathfinder' but I'd like him to have been a bit more positive about the bigger cheaper lagoons that seem more likely to be viable.

I've not had chance to read the report yet, only media reports of it. Next week perhaps. And surely the 'Marine Licence' will be a challenge too. My experience of Natural Resources Wales is that there will have to be cast iron protections for marine life before it's granted. But thats me - always cautious. I need to be sure it's a financially viable project, and environmentally acceptable. I suppose my informal position is similar to what I'd expect Govts formal position to be. Well done And thanks to Charles Hendry for a report which deserves to be read carefully.

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