Welsh Government offers £200m to support tidal lagoon project

The Welsh Government is offering to kick start a faltering clean energy project with the injection of £200 million.

The tidal lagoon plant, to be located in Swansea Bay, has been in development for years, but is awaiting a subsidy contract from the UK Government.

The plant will be the first of its kind in the world, and is intended as a pathfinder for future, larger lagoons.

The technology harnesses the natural power of the tides by capturing the flow of water inside a man-made wall, which is then forced through turbines to generate clean electricity.  

However, numerous reports have suggested central government is planning to reject the project, citing high costs. This is despite the possibility that the lagoon will create over 2,000 jobs and £1.3 billion of inward investment. An independent review also backed the project, claiming it would only cost households less than a pint of milk per year.

The Welsh Government’s intervention is aimed at breaking the deadlock and persuade Westminster to get behind the scheme. First Minister Carwyn Jones has accused the UK Government of “dragging its heels”, which has led to a “growing sense of frustration” among the business community in Wales.

In a letter to the Business Secretary, Greg Clark, this week he went on to state that “in broad terms, my proposal would be for the offer to comprise a Welsh Government commitment to an equity/and or loan investment of £200m.”

“Such an offer would, I believe, strike an appropriate balance between supporting a pathfinder, low carbon energy generation project, in line with the findings of your own Hendry Review, while providing value for money,” he added.

At the same time, government negotiations to build a new nuclear plant in north Wales are expected to go ahead, which could be cheaper than the first tidal lagoon.

Mark Shorrock, CEO of developers Tidal Lagoon Power, said the letter “is the breakthrough our project has needed.  We thank the First Minister and his team for their leadership…We look forward to working alongside the Welsh Government to now close the deal for Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon with the UK Government.”

Photo Credit: Tidal Lagoon PLC

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