With all the hoopla surrounding energy and making it clean and renewable, one oft forgotten source, the sea, is getting its fair chance again thanks to Tidal Lagoon Power. The company is set to build six total structures, with four alone being located in Wales. These plants will harness powerful coastal tides and eventually generate up to eight percent of the total power in the UK.
Backed by energy secretary Ed Davey, the company has already started working on a £1 billion plant in Swansea. Despite it being one of the smallest installations, the lagoon will cover five miles across and two miles of sea. Not only will this lagoon provide power, but a nice destination for locals. As tidal levels rise and fall throughout the day, the large space of water will drive turbines set into the walls of the lagoon.
The £30 billion investment needed to build these lagoons will be met by tax payers, as the UK is keen on backing renewable energy sources. Beyond Swansea, in Wales, Cardiff, Newport, and Colwyn Bay will host the lagoons. Outside of Wales, lagoons will be built in Bridgewater Bay, Somerset, and West Cumbria.
With the high predictability of sea movements, tidal power has a promising future, so long as we have no crazy lunar events. This differs from wind turbines which can stall on calmer days, or solar panels that only achieve maximum output on sunny days. The only resistance so far comes from marine experts, one in particular being fish sucked into the turbines. However, Tidal Lagoon Power feels the opposite, that the lagoons will create artificial reefs, thus benefiting local ecosystems.
When it comes to how much to charge for the electricity, the estimated price for the plant in Cardiff is £90-£95 per MWh, which is on par with what the nuclear station in Hinkley charges, £92.50. With these lagoons lasting for up to 120 years, and having very low risk factors, the UK government just might have struck gold.