Swansea Bay tidal power plant approved by DECC

It's official: Britain will be home to the world's first ever tidal lagoon energy project as Energy Secretary Amber Rudd has granted planning permission for a giant tidal power plant off the coast of Wales.

In what has been hailed as a “exciting step” towards harnessing untapped tidal energy sources, the Department for Energy & Climate Change (DECC) has today (9 June) confirmed that the £850m Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon project will be developed by British firm Tidal Lagoon Power.

When fully operational by the year 2023, the tidal lagoon will have an installed capacity of 320MW – enough to generate renewable electricity to power 155,000 homes, which represents more than 90% of homes in the Swansea Bay area. 

Using the fully predictable daily motion of the tides, the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon will provide clean, home-grown electricity 14 hours a day for 120 years, requiring Government support for less than a third of its lifespan. 

“What a day for Wales and the building of a Welsh Powerhouse,” said Mark Shorrock, chief executive of Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay. “We are now entering the era of the climate change revolution – de-carbonising our world in time to avoid two degrees of global warming – Wales can now lead this next revolution.

“With the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon becoming a reality, locking in 120 year life, zero carbon energy infrastructure, we have the potential to help transform our industrial economy and the UK’s energy mix.”


Not only could the Swansea Bay project save more than 236,000 tonnes of carbon emissions each year but the construction of this first-of-a-kind scheme could be the critical step needed to kick-start a tidal lagoon industry. Six potential lagoon locations have been identified around the UK which combined could provide up to 8% of the UK’s electricity and add up to £27bn cumulatively to UK GDP by 2027.

The announcement has been wholeheartedly welcomed by the renewable energy industry and green groups alike.

RenewableUK’s deputy chief executive Maf Smith said: “This momentous news marks the start of an entirely new industry in Britain, which will lead the world in this innovative ultra-modern technology.

“As a maritime nation, we are perfectly placed to take advantage of the powerful tides surging around our coasts every day, which have great potential to generate increasingly significant quantities of renewable electricity.”

Environmental hurdles

Friends of the Earth director Gareth Clubb added that tidal power could further revolutionise Wales’ energy mix – instead of relying on climate-wrecking fossil fuels.

“There are still a few environmental hurdles to clear – such as the source of the rock to be used – but provided these concerns can be managed and mitigated, tidal lagoons could make a significant contribution to a 100% renewably-powered UK,” Clubb said.

“Investment in the huge potential of tidal power is an exciting step forward, but the Government must also make the most of the proven renewable sources we already have, such as offshore wind and solar, where costs are falling rapidly.”

Contract for Difference

Tidal Lagoon Power says it will now negotiate how much subsidy will be paid for the energy, with an aim to secure support in the form of a Contract for Difference (CfD) to guarantee the price of the electricity for the initial period.

Shorrock addeD: “We now have some further permissions to secure and must successfully conclude CFD negotiations on our way to financial close, but the vision is now closer to reality than ever before and our delivery team is readying itself to start on site and start delivering for Swansea Bay next spring.” 

Luke Nicholls

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