South West Wales

Swansea Bay tidal power could 'supply 100,000 homes'

Swansea Bay looking over to Mumbles head
Image caption Swansea Bay could meet the city's energy needs, the proposal claims

A firm planning a multimillion-pound tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay says it would generate electricity equivalent to the city's entire domestic needs.

Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay Ltd wants to design, construct and operate the lagoon to generate renewable energy.

It would be designed to generate 400,000 MWh of renewable energy per year - enough to supply more than 100,000 homes, it is claimed.

The firm hopes to submit a planning application for the scheme next year.

In a 116-page report to the UK's planning inspectorate, National Infrastructure Planning, it outlines how the lagoon would work and the impact on the environment.

The proposed lagoon, which would take about two years to build, would comprise an impounding "breakwater or seawall" of about 9.5km (5.9 miles) in length.

It would hold on to water and then let it out through turbines at both high and low tides which would generate electricity.

At low tide, water would flow from the lagoon into the sea, and from the sea into the lagoon at high tide.

"The proposed tidal lagoon will have an installed capacity of 250-350MW, capable of generating over 400,000MWh/year," the report said.

"This is enough to supply well over 100,000 homes, or the equivalent to Swansea city's domestic electricity use."

Visitor centre

It said the area broadly encompassed the coast between Mumbles Head in Swansea and Port Talbot.

"The location of the lagoon has been chosen to use shallower water depths, thereby minimising the overall height of the seawalls and the materials required for construction," it added.

"These suitable shallower waters are between the dredged navigation channels for Swansea and Neath ports, which is away from Swansea Bay's designated bathing beaches."

There are also plans for an offshore visitor centre.

Plans for tidal power in Swansea Bay were first mooted in 2003 when a charity wanted to harness the tides to provide electricity for up to 10,000 homes.

In 2006, a firm called Tidal Electric Ltd put forward proposals to take the project on, but that has since been put on hold.

Now Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay believes it can bring the project to reality.

It added: "In 2006, a scoping report was prepared by Tidal Electric Ltd (TEL) for an earlier lagoon project at the same general location.

'Limited circulation'

"The 2006 report had a limited circulation among key stakeholders before that project was put on hold.

"Although similar to the 2006 scoping report, this document incorporates feedback to the earlier project, responds to design reviews, incorporates additional consultation responses and provides updated and more extensive baseline information on which to base an on-going, comprehensive consultation process."

Should the proposals go ahead, it is estimated the lifespan of the lagoon would be 100 years.

Swansea council leader David Phillips believes the lagoon is something that needs considering and will eventually go ahead.

"We've got to find a way of generating power," he said.

"We've got the biggest tidal reach in Europe here and we have it twice a day.

"When the proposal comes forward and the planning application comes out, we will need to look at it and see what the impact will be and what the benefits are."

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