Hendry Review Backs £1.3bn Swansea Bay White Elephant
By Paul Homewood
As expected, Charles Hendry’s supposedly independent review has come out in favour of the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon project.
From the BBC:
Plans for a £1.3bn tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay have been backed by a government-commissioned review.
Charles Hendry’s independent report into the technology’s viability said it would make a "strong contribution" to the UK’s energy supply.
He said it was cost effective and would bring "significant economic opportunity".
The UK government still needs to agree on a deal and a marine licence would also need to be approved.
Mr Hendry said moving ahead with a pathfinder lagoon off the Swansea coast should be seen as a "no regrets" policy.
There are hopes of developing a network of larger lagoons around the UK coast, harnessing power from the ebb and flow of the sea’s tides.
But Mr Hendry believed that was "too ambitious a goal" before even one had been built and "could only be considered properly when more progress had been made".
The project would see energy produced for 14 out of every 24 hours, according to TLP
Mr Hendry made 30 conclusions, including:
- The technology would "contribute positively" towards the UK’s decarbonisation goals
- It was "beyond question" that local economic regeneration would follow a tidal lagoon
- It offers "significant economic opportunity" for Wales and the UK
- The potential impact on consumer bills of large scale tidal lagoons "appears attractive, particularly when compared to nuclear projects" in the long term
- A high level of monitoring of environmental impacts would still be needed
- A Tidal Power Authority should oversee the new industry
- Competitive tendering for future projects "to deliver the most substantial cost reductions" – similar to the nuclear industry
Former UK energy minister Mr Hendry has been gathering evidence for nearly a year for his independent inquiry, including visits to all the potential sites and discussions with industry.
Mr Hendry said: "If you look at the cost spread out over the entire lifetime – 120 years for the project – it comes out at about 30p per household for the next 30 years. That’s less than a pint of milk.
"That’s where I think we can start a new industry and we can do it at an affordable cost to consumers."
The Swansea Bay project would involve 16 turbines along a breakwater but is seen as only the start – a prototype for much larger lagoons.
The "fleet" includes one off the coast of Cardiff – east of where Cardiff Bay is now – Newport, Bridgwater Bay in Somerset, Colwyn Bay and west Cumbria, north of Workington.
There is nothing new about any of this, but just to recap:
1) According to the Tidal Lagoon Power website, Swansea Bay will produce 530 GWh per year.
This is a tiny 0.15% of the UK’s electricity generation. As a percentage of the UK’s overall energy needs, it will be less than half of this.
2) The capital cost is estimated at £1.3bn.
3) They also estimate that they can generate power for 14 hours a day, split into four spells.
Whilst tides are predictable, back up power would still need to be provided for the rest of the time.
4) In comparison, the 2000MW CCGT plant down the road in Pembroke is capable of generating 15 TWh a year, 28 times as much, when and as needed.
5) Hendry claims it would "contribute positively" towards the UK’s decarbonisation goals.
This is a nonsense. TLP’s own figures give annual “carbon” savings of 236,000 tonnes.
UK total emissions are around 440 million tonnes, so Swansea will save about 0.05%, equivalent to 4 hours worth of emissions every year.
6) The usual claim about the “number of homes” that can be supplied is wheeled out, this time 155,000.
This conveniently ignore demand from non domestic sources, which accounts for two thirds of the total.
The generation from Swansea will be so tiny that it would supply the UK for just 13 hours each year.
7) It is claimed that the subsidy cost will amount to 30p per household a year. This is, of course, a tiny amount, but for the simple reason that the output is equally tiny.
No details of strike prices are given , because they are a matter for negotiation. However, TLP have previously indicated a starting price of about £120/MWh.
Over the period of the contract, because this price is only partially index linked, it is suggested it will average around the price of Hinkley – £92.50/MWh at 2012 prices, but about £100/MWh at current prices.
This would mean a subsidy of about £32 million a year. This would equate to £206 a year for the poor suckers who live in those 155,000 houses!
8) In addition, there is the cost of providing back up capacity for the 10 hours every day when no power is being produced.
9) The Hendry report does not appear to have considered any environmental issues, judging at least from the reporting of it.
We have already heard from the RSPB about their concerns for birds. Local fishermen are also extremely concerned about the potential effect on fish stocks, if local eco systems are thrown out of balance.
10) Less widely reported have been the environmental considerations at the Dean Quarry in Cornwall, which is designated to supply the rock for Swansea.
Dean Quarry will be developed by Shire Oak Quarries Ltd, a subsidiary of Shire Oak Energy, whose chief executive Mark Shorrock is also head of Tidal Lagoon Power (TLP).
The area of Cornish coast where the jetties are planned has recently been designated a Marine Conservation Zone, where rare marine flora and fauna are supposed to be protected.
Understandably, locals are also furious about the impact of major quarrying operations on their lives.
Hendry claims that the lagoon will create jobs, but, as we have seen before, subsidies taken from Peter to pay Paul simply take money out of the rest of the economy.
Unfortunately, however, while we are lumbered with the Climate Change Act there are not many alternatives to Swansea. Even more expensive offshore wind power or more Hinkley Points are hardly any more attractive.
No government decision has yet been made, and we can only hope that common sense prevails.