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Swansea energy lagoon developer seeks local contractor input

Energy firm Tidal Lagoon Power wants Welsh construction companies to play a major role in creating a 9.5km sea wall and renewable energy plant in Swansea Bay.

The developer last week submitted a 5,000-page application for a development consent order for the £750M wave energy power plant in South Wales.

A Tidal Lagoon Power spokesman told NCE that it wanted local suppliers to work on the huge scheme with main contractor Costain.

“We are looking to build a supply chain in Wales,” she said.

“We have launched an independent advisory group, which is being chaired by Schaeffler managing director Roger Evans, and will work to ensure local businesses are able to take advantage of the opportunities.”

The plant’s turbines will be able to capture energy from incoming and outgoing tides to power the equivalent of 120,000 homes.

The planning application revealed that the scheme would include 16 turbines and an offshore visitor centre aimed at attracting 100,000 people
per year.

It will have an installed capacity of 320MW and generate for 14 hours per day, with an annual output of 420GWh.

The sea wall will be up to 20m high in places, and enclose more than 11km2 of water.

After a review by the Planning Inspectorate, the proposal will face a public inquiry, before final approval can be given by the energy secretary. It is hoped that work can begin on site in spring 2015 with a connection to the power grid in 2018.

Tidal Lagoon Power chief executive Mark Shorrock said the submission of the application was a major milestone for the innovative technology.

“Until now, tidal energy has been heavily promoted by governments and environmentalists as an intuitive source of clean and reliable energy for our island nation, but the business response has focused on relatively small-scale tidal stream devices,” he said.

“The UK has the second highest tidal range in the world and today we are submitting an application for a development that will prove that this resource can be harnessed in a way that makes economic, environmental and social sense.”

The power firm aims to build five tidal lagoons in UK waters over the next 10 years, supplying 10% of the country’s domestic electricity.

“Economies of scale bring immediate advantage,” said Shorrock. “Had we invested in tidal lagoons in the 1980s, by now, and into the next century, we would be generating cheaper power than any other form of supply.”

The Cheltenham-based company has been working with companies including Atkins, Costain, GE, Alstom, Andritz and Voith on the Swansea Bay scheme. Atkins chief executive for the UK and Europe David Tonkin said: “The tidal lagoon concept represents a bold new addition to the energy mix. It is a great example of how innovative engineering could be used to harness our natural resources and provide clean, sustainable and predictable power for thousands of homes.

“Through our long involvement with major infrastructure projects around the world we know the benefits they can deliver in terms of improving people’s lives.

“We see the same potential in this case, as well as a great opportunity for Britain to export the technological know-how to other countries in the longer term.”

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