Victory for Lib Dems with announcement of world’s first tidal lagoon

The Chancellor has just announced that he will be opening formal negotiations which could lead to an investment of £1 billion in a world-first scheme to extract energy from tidal power.

Ed Davey has been working on this project for several years, so it is a great victory for Liberal Democrats in government, on the back of our other achievements on renewable energy. The UK is already the world leader on offshore wind, thanks to the Lib Dems.

The first tidal lagoon will be planned for Swansea Bay, as predicted in the Guardian this morning.

Power would be generated as the incoming and outgoing tides – the daily equivalent of 100,000 Olympic swimming pools of water – passed through turbines.

Hopefully it will be the first of a series of similar projects around the coast.

In the long term, lagoon technology could supply 8% of the UK’s electricity, which would not only be green, but would also reduce our reliance on imported power.

* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames where she is still very active with the local party.

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19 Comments

  • Eddie Sammon 18th Mar '15 - 1:37pm

    Looks brilliant. Let’s make sure we get it right.

  • Simon McGrath 18th Mar '15 - 1:57pm

    So a subsidy of around £60m a year according to the figures quoted in the Guardian, that it will need a subsidy of £150 per megawatt hour (MWh) – compared with the £98 agreed for Hinkley and wholesale electricity prices of £50 per MWh.

    The question is should we spend this money now ( and commit to the subsidy for 100 years) or invest in R&D and wait for the costs of alternative sources of renewable energy to fall ? – solar is plummeting in price for example

  • I welcome this Coalition statement. Not a sentence I often employ.

    Well done Ed Davey.

  • Simon McGrath you are having difficulty with your arithmetic. Where in your calculations is the cost of decommissioning Hinkley C in 30 years time when it is no longer safe? Is that not a massive subsidy to the nationalised industries of China and France! I thought you were against state owned industries?

    The predicted lifetime of the tidal power lagoon is said to be 120 years — a much better investment that any expenditure in nuclear and without the danger of a Fukushima/Chernobyl in Somerset.

  • @Simon – yes, this is astonishingly expensive subsidy for renewable power…even more so when you consider that the technology is 100 years old!

  • I don’t have the figures to hand, but I understand that the costs of tidal power will drop dramatically in the future.

  • jedibeeftrix 18th Mar '15 - 2:52pm

    Will the subsidy drop dramatically too ( over the 120 year life of the project)?

  • Simon McGrath 18th Mar '15 - 3:29pm

    @Mary – indeed they might drop for new installations using the expertise from this one ( though there is no certainty).
    This one will still be costing us £60m a year though.

    @John – not sure i follow your point – what have the cost of decommisising Hinckley to do with it ? In any case i think they are included in the 98Mwh costs

  • “JohnTilley 18th Mar ’15 – 2:00pm

    I welcome this Coalition statement. Not a sentence I often employ.”

    Are you feeling OK John? 😉

  • Those asking questions about the numbers — Mary provided a link to the Guardian Article this morning which one assumes is based on briefing from a ministerial press team —
    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/mar/17/budget-2015-george-osborne-announce-uk-tidal-power-scheme

    Simon McGrath — you are I guess unaware of the hidden subsidy to the privatised nuclear companies? It is for cleaning up nuclear sites which have become too dangerous to function. This is a very significant sum, I cannot remember how many £ Billions of taxpayers money went on this in 2014. I think you could find it by googling. It has been discussed in LDV before on at least two or three occasions over the last 18 months. This is not a new element in the subsidies given to nuclear, it is not a secret.

    ATF — I am well thanknyou. Ihave been looking forward to advances on tidal power for a long time. Probably since I learned about St Malo when I was a schoolboy 50 years ago. 🙂

  • Simon McGrath 18th Mar '15 - 5:03pm

    @john – you seem to be confusing two things – the clean up costs from old nuclear power stations – and those from new ones , which are included in the costs ( though of course they might not be correct).

  • Stephen Hesketh 18th Mar '15 - 5:08pm

    JohnTilley18th Mar ’15 – 2:00pm
    “I welcome this Coalition statement. Not a sentence I often employ – Well done Ed Davey.”

    Exactly what John says – Well done Ed Davey!

    A tidal lagoon is also being spoken of locally off the Lancashire/Merseyside coast and no doubt other places. Let’s try this and other technologies and see how they perform.

    When it and other renewable technologies have received a fraction of the subsidy that fission nuclear has enjoyed since the 1950’s (and still not been found to be safe or financially viable) we can pull the plug.

  • Stephen Hesketh 18th Mar '15 - 5:23pm

    MBoy – are you actually a member of the Liberal Democrats?

    Non-member contributors such as Alex Sabine and Jedi clearly have a quiet affection for us.

    It doesn’t matter what he topic is however, you don’t appear to have any substantive agreement with any Liberal Democrat values or policies.

    Just asking.

  • Sorry to mention the elephant in the room but what’s the point of something like this when it is announced alongside a massive tax-cut for the oil and gas industries?

  • David Allen 18th Mar '15 - 5:39pm

    To hide the tax cut?

  • In 1966 General De Gaulle opened a tidal power station.
    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rance_Tidal_Power_Station

    It has more than covered its costs amd is still churning out electricity today.

  • peter tyzack 19th Mar '15 - 9:00am

    John, horses for courses, La Rance is a whole different story, and one we do not want to emulate on any Uk river.! Lagoons or Evans Reef are the way to go. We also need more investment in tidal stream, which has great potential.

  • Alex Sabine 20th Mar '15 - 4:44am

    Stephen: “A quiet affection”, I’ll go along with that 😉

    Steve: Overwhelmingly the main reason for the dramatic fall in the tax take from the North Sea industry is the collapse in the oil price. Receipts from offshore corporation tax and PRT have plummeted from £10.9 billion in 2011-12 to £4.7 billion in 2013-14 to well under £1 billion in 2015-16 and throughout the forecast period. (During the Scottish referendum campaign, the SNP were assuming an independent Scotland could count on £8.3 billion of North Sea revenue, which now looks rather…optimistic, shall we say. It is interesting to speculate on the swingeing tax hikes elsewhere or deep spending cuts they would have had to implement to fill the gap. They dodged a bullet there…)

    The total Exchequer cost on the Budget scorecard of the cut in PRT and the Supplementary Charge is £300-400 million per year – significant, certainly, but not “massive”. After this Budget the effective rate of tax is 67.5% on production from older oil and gas fields and 50% from the newer fields.

    Moreover, these tax cuts need to be seen in the context of the big hike in North Sea taxes that the coalition introduced in the 2011 Budget (raising some £2 billion) to fund a fuel duty cut. The Economist notes: “This might have netted the hard-up Chancellor a windfall of about £2 billion, but, so argue many in the industry, the tax rise also deterred companies from sinking any more money into an ageing basin where it had already become very expensive to operate. With margins wafer-thin, North Sea oil and gas production… plummeted between 2011 and 2013, before recovering slightly last year. Just as importantly, new exploration has crawled almost to a halt… With the price of oil expected to stay at its current level for some time, both employers and employees know that only by drastically reducing operating costs in the North Sea over the long term can the basin remain profitable enough to attract investment, let alone compete with less costly deep-water basins in the Gulf of Mexico and off the west coast of Africa… In this respect, the tax cuts are helpful, but hardly crucial. Cutting costs will prove far more important.”

    Looking at the coalition’s record over the parliament I hardly think you can say they have dispensed any favours to the North Sea industry. Indeed they are now basically trying to undo the effects of their earlier tax hike, with the measures in this Budget expected to boost North Sea production by 15% by the end of the decade.

  • Maria Pretzler 20th Mar '15 - 11:58pm

    Never worry, Welsh Labour will still take all the credit.
    Looks as if they have already managed to hijack it to an extent that they can hand out jobs for the boys.

    It’s an exciting project for us in Swansea, but it’ll take more to break corrupt politics in Wales.

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