Tidal Lagoons and Marine Energy
Why Tidal Lagoons?
Our Energy crisis
We have a problem: our energy demands are rising, but capacity isn’t increasing fast enough, and gradually our aging nuclear power stations are going to be closed down. By 2030 our capacity needs to have increased by a quarter just to meet existing demand. What to do?
The good news is that there is lots happening, but we do also need some big decisions. Our first new nuclear stations for a generation, at Hinkley Point, have been approved with agreed Chinese investment, but EDF Energy’s French parent has financial, operational and legal difficulties. We need confirmation, ultimately, from their key shareholder the French government, about EDF’s commitment in order to continue.
There are also new Japanese nuclear energy stations planned in Cumbria and North Wales, gas plants being built and a pipeline of renewable projects – which could ultimately provide up to 30% of our total energy demand.
A history of under investment is gradually being dealt with, as the new Industrial Strategy component of Secretary of State Greg Clark’s Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy department takes over responsibility for energy strategy as well. This is encouraging, but there is still a need for a clean, reliable, domestic source of energy – and it’s here, on our doorstep.
Britain’s tidal resources
The UK is uniquely situated, enjoying the second highest tides of anywhere in the world and consequently the opportunity to harness their extraordinary power. The concepts are not new, but the technology has vastly improved since the first tidal barrage was built over half a century ago in France, as has the understanding of the ecological impacts and benefits of building such massive structures along our coast lines.
Britain’s first commercial tidal lagoon at Swansea was granted planning consent in 2015 and stands ready to be built. It needs government support, and in order to get it, it will need to prove that it is good value for money. That is why the independent review into the feasibility and practicality of tidal lagoon energy in the UK was launched in February.
Tidal lagoons are exciting, but as yet untested technology. Designed to last for over a century or more and encompassing several square miles of ocean, these lagoons could become a legacy of affordable electricity from carbon free resources for generations of our constituents and businesses.
However it is important to have clarity over the role that tidal lagoons can play in supporting our country’s energy needs, which is why former Energy Minister Charles Hendry is heading this review, and will give clear recommendations on tidal lagoon power in the autumn.
More than just power stations
Lagoons could offer more than just energy security from cheap resources. The investment in lagoons in the UK could exceed over £40 billion in the next fifteen years, creating tens of thousands of construction jobs, most notably in parts of the United Kingdom, like South Wales, which will need more support when we leave the EU, whatever that will look like.
The supply chain that these investments will create involve some of our largest manufacturers, thereby spreading their economic benefit across the country. If the Review gives the go ahead, the Swansea project could also be followed by a fleet of lagoons that not only contribute to the UK’s energy needs, but also provide an investment that will create an industry with huge scope, with the potential to export to other countries as well.
This is our chance to dominate a new energy sector, with a predominantly British supply chain. Tidal lagoons will create jobs and investment in the UK whilst providing us with the electricity we sorely need, all without dependence on other security and supply issues.
There are other sources of marine energy: the stream derived energy developed by Atlantis at MeyGen, in the north of Scotland, and the wave project advanced by Albatern, as well as a different tidal project being worked up by Perpetuus on the Isle of Wight.
The opportunity is why I’ve set up, with many colleagues from all parties, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Marine Energy and Tidal Lagoons, so we can come together and discuss these important issues. There will be metaphorical waves and tides to overcome: but a brave government determined to innovate and think long term can overcome them all. It is in the interest of all of us that Britain develops Marine Energy.
Richard Graham MP
Chair of the APPG on Marine Energy and Tidal Lagoons
Launching the All Party Group to promote Marine Energy
We have the most tumultuous coastline of any country, capable of great force, and we badly need its energy to help keep the lights on as soon as possible. So I launched an All-Party Parliamentary Group on Marine Energy and Tidal Lagoons to promote and support the technology, finance, and the right government strike price for energy from waves and tides – whether lagoons or streams alike – with a hundred businessmen and women, Parliamentarians from all parties and energy representatives. This is a sector where British finance, technology and manufacturing could lead the world.
Tidal Lagoon Power, which is headquartered in Gloucester, co-sponsored the launch event with Atlantis Resources, who are exploring stream energy at MeyGen in the north of Scotland. TLP Head of Communications Andy Field said,
“We are pleased to be involved with the APPG. Tidal Lagoons are massive investments in communities and regions, sustaining thousands of jobs and providing the power which we severely need.”
Former Energy Minister Charles Hendry was the keynote speaker, and explained the focus of his Independent Review on Tidal Lagoons, due to be published this autumn. He confirmed the need for interested parties to provide evidence to support (or challenge) the long term value proposition of Tidal Lagoons for his review. Charles Hendry said:
“We’re going to be asking a lot of questions and need answers from those with concrete evidence. It’s great that Richard has set up this APPG, and I hope that Parliamentarians will support the Review and encourage their local businesses to do the same.”
Labour MP for Newport West Paul Flynn said
“Tidal Power is Wales’ sumptuous unused energy bonanza, ready to provide clean, predictable, immense, surges of power eternally.”
Launching the Independent Review on Tidal Lagoons
Charles Hendry has published his Independent Review of Tidal Lagoons and I hosted a press conference for him today.
Charles said he had started a sceptic and ended a huge enthusiast for the opportunities in this sector. On the core issues of security of supply, decarbonisation, affordability and economic gain (jobs above all) his Review found strongly in favour of the UK being the world’s first mover of Tidal Lagoons – and he urged the government to get negotiations for a Swansea pathfinder moving as soon as possible, with an aim of seeing electricity generated from the Swansea Tidal Lagoon in 2022.
Read his report here: https://hendryreview.wordpress.com/
Writing to Business Secretary Greg Clark
I’ve written to Business & Energy Secretary Greg Clark, asking him to take forward the Swansea ‘pathfinder’ Tidal Lagoon – which would be the first of its kind in the world.
My letter was also signed by 107 MPs, showing the strength of support in Parliament for this.
The Swansea lagoon pathfinder was recommended by the Hendry Review on Tidal Lagoons carried out by former Energy Minister Charles Hendry. I was with him at the Review launch as Chair of the Parliamentary Group on Marine Energy and Tidal Lagoons – and want to take forward the Review’s recommendations.
Charles urged the government to give the green light for a pathfinder and then see whether the experience justified going ahead with much larger future lagoons.
Tidal Lagoons tick most of the boxes in the government’s industrial strategy, but are they affordable? Greg and Chancellor Philip Hammond have to thrash this out with Gloucester-based Tidal Lagoon Power plc, and reach an agreement that makes sense for all – including taxpayers who will later pay any agreed subsidy to develop this new technology and energy.
We all want to be sure the pathfinder is affordable in the context of delivering secure, domestic, low carbon and diversified sources of energy. So my letter is to urge the government not to delay in getting the financial talks for the pathfinder under way.