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Swansea Bay tidal lagoon will 'launch Welsh engineering'

Lagoon wall (tidal lagoon power)crop

The boss of a £15bn pension fund has thrown his weight behind the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon project.

The Wales Pension Partnership (WPP) chair Mark Norris told New Civil Engineer that he is backing the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon scheme because it will put Welsh engineering in the global spotlight.

The WPP, a group of eight Welsh pension funds, is the latest big backer to support the £1.3bn pathfinder project.

But the UK government is still expected to reject the scheme imminently, despite a last-minute offer of an extra £200M from the Welsh government.

Norris told New Civil Engineer the scheme “could have a hugely positive impact on the Welsh engineering industry”.

He said: “This Tidal Lagoon could have a hugely positive impact on the Welsh engineering industry and its technological reputation. The project is using tried and tested technology in a first-of-its-kind, modern way with the lagoon and all eyes are on us, it would highlight on a world stage that Wales is a leader and pioneer in renewable energy.

“Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon, it is hoped, will be one of many tidal lagoons in the future, both in Wales and across the globe. The economic impact on job creation, innovation and supply chain will undoubtedly boost the engineering industry and attract further inward investment in renewables and technology sectors in Wales.”

MPs have reportedly gone cold on the scheme 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.

No decision has been made since January 2017 when ex-energy minister and author of the Hendry review on tidal lagoons Charles Hendry said backing the scheme was a “no-brainer”. If the Swansea Bay pathfinder lagoon goes ahead, developer Tidal Lagoon Power has five more large-scale lagoons planned.

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