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Floating 'Dragon Energy Island' mooted to replace Swansea tidal lagoon

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A floating island with space for 10,000 new homes has been put forward as a replacement to the canned Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon project. 

The ambitious plan drawn up by the Swansea Bay City Region combines a lagoon seawall with tidal stream turbines, with a floating island with room for 10,000 modular homes.

Nicknamed the “Dragon Energy Island”, the proposal also includes underwater housing for data centres, a solar energy farm, and hydrogen production facilities.  

Previous plans for the £1.3bn Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon stalled after the UK government backed out of the project in June 2018.  

The Swansea Bay City Region claims its Dragon Energy Island proposal is 30% cheaper than the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon, with a estimated cost of just under £1bn. The costs do not include the housing or underwater data centres, which could be privately funded.  

Swansea Council leader Rob Stewart said floating housing projects had already proved to be popular in Europe, and would benefit the city. “The new proposal is a larger and more ambitious renewable energy development that’s built upon the natural tidal benefits of Swansea Bay and complimentary technology to generate zero-carbon power,” he said.  

“The tidal lagoon is at the heart of the new proposal and gives us the opportunity to create a new floating community of homes and businesses within the sea wall. This has already been successful in countries like the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark, providing a sustainable solution to issues including population density and climate change.” 

“There’s considerable interest from major companies in turning this opportunity into a commercial reality, so we’re now keen to move forward.” 

An independent report carried out by Holistic Capital concludes that the Dragon Energy Island plans plans are viable, and highlights various funding avenues, including protentional backing from the Welsh Government and private investment. 

Construction could start as soon as 2021, with the Dragon Energy Island potentially operational by the end of 2026. 

ICE director for Wales Keith Jones told New Civil Engineer the scheme was an important part of making Wales a sustainable country. “This is one piece of the puzzle to make Wales a more sustainable country,” he said.  

“Wales has strong tides and many miles of coastline, with many sites identified as having potential for marine energy facilities,” Jones explained. “The worst thing we can do is nothing, we need to maximise the benefits from the strong tidal ranges in Wales,” he added.  

The report is due to be considered by the Swansea Bay City Region’s Joint Committee on 28 May before next steps are explored. 

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