The long wait for a decision on the £1.3bn Swansea Bay tidal lagoon should be over in a matter of weeks as ministers gear themselves up to rule on the project.
After months of delays, ministers are expected to finally decide on the proposals after the current parliamentary recess.
Pressure has been building on the government to make a decision on the 320MW tidal energy pathfinder project, following the government-commissioned Hendry review into tidal energy which labelled the Swansea Bay project as a “no-brainer”.
However, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has equivocated over cost concerns for taxpayers. Although the lagoon is expected to generate energy for free by the end of its 120-year lifecycle, initial costs would start at roughly £123/MWh – more expensive than Hinkley Point C’s £92.5/MWh strike price.
Now ministers are expected to back or bury the scheme at a second evidence session for the joint select committee inquiry into the government’s delay, expected soon after parliament reconvenes on 4 June.
“The implication is that they’ll have made a decision by then, and be happy to answer questions,” a source close to the inquiry told The Telegraph.
Last month Tidal Lagoon Power (TLP) chief executive Mark Shorrok said that delays in the decision had led three of its supply chain into administration.
The lagoon, which could be built by Laing O’Rourke after the firm won a £200M contract in 2015, would generate electricity for 120 years using power from incoming and outgoing tides. If this pathfinder project is successful, five full-scale lagoons are planned.
A spokesperson for BEIS said: “As the Business Secretary told MPs recently, while we have quadrupled the proportion of our electricity that comes from renewable sources since 2010, we have a responsibility to minimise the impact on consumer bills and the Swansea proposal is more than twice as expensive as the Hinkley power station. Any decision on the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon project will have to represent value for money for the UK taxpayer as well as the consumer.
“However, we have committed to continue exploring all of the possibilities and challenges in considering a proposal that – as the First Minister of the Welsh Government pointed out - involves an untried technology with high capital costs and significant uncertainties.”
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