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Hendry Review Backs £1.3bn Swansea Bay White Elephant

January 12, 2017

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".

Tidal lagoon

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.

  1. January 12, 2017 7:17 pm

    May as well burn wood in these houses, more cost efficient, reliable and if one believes the carbon nonsense less of that as well.
    After just grtting back from Greece where they are building new coal powered plants supported by the EU one must wonder whether we can actually learn something from that unelected bunch. It seems we are so dull we will.

    • Sara Hall permalink
      January 12, 2017 7:23 pm

      News article on BBC South West this morning about one poor soul living in social housing whose eco-friendly, wood pellet burning boiler had broken down 39 times in the last 21 months. The landlord has finally agreed to change his system back to oil!

  2. January 12, 2017 7:23 pm

    What a contrast in coverage on the BBC, the spitting venom when Ineos announced a genuine major investment in fracking in the UK, and the love-in on the radio this morning, with Harrabin and Hendry. One surprise was the mention of “sustainable mining” for the rocks, not sure how that works, but apparently rocks may be shipped in from overseas. Nothing is too much for Green Blob Approved electricity.

    All the usual statistical tricks were brought to bear on the poor unsuspecting bill-payers, number of homes provided with electricity, and it will only cost each of us a pint of milk per year. Hence the total lack of credibility of the dismal science of economics in fake news sources such as the BBC.

  3. January 12, 2017 7:34 pm

    If the Government gives the go-ahead for this insane project, then we will know there is no hope for this country for several more years.

  4. Ian Magness permalink
    January 12, 2017 7:35 pm

    You only have to look at this Hendry’s Wikipaedia entry to know that this report was run by a man clearly wholly inappropriate to officiate over it.
    Just look at Hendry’s profile. According to this, he is:
    – someone clearly from a privileged background who has rarely, if ever, had to do a proper job in his life. In fact he appears to have come through the same PR and lobby type background as so many of “Dave’s” other cronies;
    – not a scientist but a career politician;
    – heavy involved in the energy industry, firstly as a politician and then, surprise surprise, as a “renewables” company director and/or shareholder.
    With all this in mind you do not have to be a rocket (or even climate) scientist to guess that he was hand-picked to deliver the result that the establishment wanted – and he had duly delivered in spades.
    Independent? My ar**!!!

    • January 12, 2017 7:52 pm

      The Committee on Climate Change is also described as “Independent”. It’s Newspeak, where “Independent” means it is independent of nay pretense at integrity or honesty.

      • Derek Buxton permalink
        January 13, 2017 3:05 pm

        Seems we are in Orwell Country here, independent means having a vested interest….in spades! We all know to whom the money goes. Jail is too good for these fraudsters.

  5. January 12, 2017 7:48 pm

    Time to wheel out Mr. Booker again (from 2015)…Insane, crazy – the riddle of the sands in Swansea

    ‘A distinguished expert on tidal silting wrote in March that neither he nor any of his “international colleagues” can imagine that the project will not be plagued by its build-up of a million tons of silt a year, to be dumped at a site as yet unspecified.’

    • January 12, 2017 7:55 pm

      As I recall from a meeting at which the developer gave a presentation, they had not even thought about the issue of silting. Afterwards they came up with the idea of continuous dredging (powered no doubt by solar or wind), with the silt being piped over the lagoon wall and back into the estuary.

  6. January 12, 2017 7:50 pm

    How do you spell “independent” again?

    And I wonder also what his definition of “The potential impact on consumer bills of large scale tidal lagoons ‘appears attractive'” means. To whom does it appear attractive, apart from those with noses well in the trough? Not to the poor pensioner who will have to subsidise this pointless vanity project, that’s for sure!

  7. January 12, 2017 8:11 pm

    Dr John Constable of the GWPF provides an excellent summary of how bad this proposal will be for consumers and the UK electricity supply.

  8. John permalink
    January 12, 2017 8:34 pm

    Its the 120 year payback that is the killer
    Another taxpayer funded vanity project

    • johnmarshall permalink
      January 13, 2017 10:21 am

      It will not last 120yrs due to silting.

  9. CheshireRed permalink
    January 12, 2017 9:06 pm

    It doesn’t make any sense, the figures are all at sea, it’ll cost an absolute fortune and deliver next to FA energy at eye-watering cost, and after all that will STILL need back-up from reliable stuff that actually works.

    It’s nailed on.

  10. martinbrumby permalink
    January 12, 2017 9:49 pm

    Might as well note that the CO2 footprint of this scheme will be enormous. Likely much bigger than a CCGT generator.
    If this lunatic scheme goes ahead, the 155,000 homes should be clearly designated as such and the project’s perpetrators (including Hendry and his ‘independent’ chums should be made collectively and individually responsible for the supply of energy to those properties at all times. With swinging penalties for any failures or shortfalls.
    The most useful abatement of CO2 emissions that Hendry could provide would be to stop his stupid and venal trap and cease and desist from breathing.

  11. January 12, 2017 10:37 pm

    Perhaps the BBC item on this is a first candidate for thier new ‘fake news’ operation.

    • Michael Oxenham permalink
      January 13, 2017 11:22 am

      Pots and kettle come to mind.

  12. roger permalink
    January 12, 2017 11:02 pm

    I propose that should this project get the go ahead, the installation be named in perpetuity The Theresa May Energy Lagoon so that generations as yet unborn will know who they have to thank for the benefits that will accrue down the centuries.
    It’s a brave call to be ultimately responsible for such a long lasting memorial to stupidity engendered by a child like belief in a failing theory.
    What is it with female Prime Ministers and their susceptibility to AGW scams?

    • Annie permalink
      January 13, 2017 5:20 am

      I think you can leave out the ‘female part of the description of PMs. Just take a look at the male versions past and present (Cameron, Turnbull anyone?)

    • Gerry, England permalink
      January 13, 2017 12:14 pm

      Unwise if you are trying to have a dig at Baroness Thatcher since she rejected it all once she realised she had been presented with lies.

      • roger permalink
        January 13, 2017 3:42 pm

        I am sorry if I offended Annie’s susceptibilities.I presume from her reference to Turnbull that she hails from Oz and can be forgiven for her lack of knowledge of the Northern Ireland green debacle that this week put the power sharing agreement there in jeopardy.
        Living as I do under one of the parochial parliaments, each of which is headed by unremarkable women, I tend to view all their utterings and acts through a jaundiced eye until such time as their worth is proven.
        Mrs. T stands apart from this lot of women and all the men who succeeded her.
        Especially Sturgeon who has covered her bailliewick with turbines, destroying tourism and fishing in the process.

  13. January 12, 2017 11:50 pm

    It was a low tide in logical thought when they dreamed up this madness.

  14. Athelstan permalink
    January 13, 2017 12:38 am

    The fucking lunatics eco nutters and red-tories, yes the same lot who betrayed the nation under laughing boy Teddy, are still dancing us all the way to the cliff edge and over to: de-industrialisation.

    This (Swansea bay mud gatherer) is one more pathetic scheme, it will be a monument to the folly of the wastrel amoebas who call themselves the Tory party.

    Economic calamity, via useless palliatives aka green boondoggles and it follows to impoverish the nation with whack job eco idiocy.

    Jobsworth, apparatchik nonpareil is, Hendry and not so honest, all goodness gone and an A1 plank.

    Like shariza may, he is, a perfect fit for pontificating on a subject quite clearly he’ll never grasp and that’s the trouble isn’t it, until the lights go out on ’em, they’ll never get it – will they?

  15. Shale Watcher permalink
    January 13, 2017 1:01 am

    Oh well it’s nice to see we’re financing what will turn out to be the world’s most expensive marina while at the same time refusing permission for Egdon’s oil production at Wressle, a small but inexpensive contributtion to the UK oil supply. Mental.

  16. John F. Hultquist permalink
    January 13, 2017 5:11 am

    How much did this review cost?
    I can do it for free:

    I can’t imagine how anything could go wrong. {OK, can I have a beer or something?}

    • Athelstan permalink
      January 13, 2017 7:45 am

      I think, that, they have the beer first John.

  17. Gray permalink
    January 13, 2017 7:36 am

    If it’s such a brilliant idea, go to the market get private investment and let the greens put their money where their mouths are.
    About time the idiots had some skin in the game.

  18. Bradley Stoker permalink
    January 13, 2017 8:12 am

    Well, having read the report, and not the ill informed statements in the press, I am just slightly encouraged.

    I would suggest that privately Shorrocks is very disappointed with the outcome. I have always felt that he was expecting to be handed the delivery of the “fleet” on a plate, and this has not happened. I like the idea of the TLA (yet another Three Letter Acronym) and applaud the fact that the following lagoons would be put out for competitive tender.

    The much hailed “jobs bonanza” will not however happen, as quite rightly the pathfinder lagoon project, Hendry advises, will need to be built commissioned and evaluated before a spade can be put in the ground on the next one. There would thus be a period of years between Swansea and the next lagoon (even if it was judged viable).

    What will then happen is that GE/Andritz Hydro will secure all the work and due to the one off nature of the scheme, declare that a “mega factory” is not viable and share the work to their established, and very completive established overseas supply chain.

    Shorrocks will brush up on his Chinese and before we know it 75% of the work will be placed outside the UK.

    Hendry did however suggest that rather than the Government subsidise the lagoons, the investment could be made in UK manufacturing infrastructure, who could then support the UK tidal lagoon industry, I applaud this, but struggle to see how it would function.

    For me, I would rather buy that extra pint of milk.

  19. rms permalink
    January 13, 2017 11:05 am

    Daily Mail has a slightly different take on this story.

    Headline: “Tidal lagoons project could deliver 30% of our electricity”

  20. January 13, 2017 11:46 am

    Where is Ofgem (the regulator) in the decision making, they are meant to look after the consumer? The regulator should enforce a budget on subsidies, if this lagoon gets the OK then a few wind farms should be cancelled. Likewise the Welsh govt should have to spend some of its budget if it really wants this, meaning less money for hospitals etc., forcing them to evaluate priorities and value for money.

  21. Green Sand permalink
    January 13, 2017 12:41 pm

    The Times and GWPF

    ‘UK Government Signals Green Energy Project Is Uneconomic’

    “The world’s first tidal lagoon power station may be too expensive despite a government-commissioned review strongly backing it, according to Whitehall sources…….”

  22. Richard111 permalink
    January 13, 2017 1:34 pm

    My guess is the tidal lagoon farce wiped out

    Have a gander at the site. A far better idea.

  23. January 13, 2017 2:19 pm

    If the cost of one pint of milk a year will only deliver 0.15% of the nation’s electricity, turning over the whole system to lagoon-power would mean us having to fork out for 666 pints (82.3 gallons).

    • nigel permalink
      January 13, 2017 2:44 pm

      “If…666 pints…”

      A devlish proposition!

      The grasp (sic) of people in the upper reaches of decision making was brought home to me once when as a junior external auditor I discussed the accounts I had produced for an important lawye,r who also owned a helicopters-for-hire company.

      “This figure for depreciation of £3,000,000 is far too low!”

      “Why do you think that?”

      “I am going to buy two helicopters which cost £6,000,000 in total and so I need another £3,000,000 in cash .”

      He actually believed that a book-keeping adjustment was the same as going to the bank for a loan!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  24. AlecM permalink
    January 13, 2017 4:00 pm

    Why don’t we go the whole hog and rename DBEIS the DWE (Department for White Elephants)? Greg Clarke can then be called the Chief Mahout.

    Save the Bloody Eels; let the silt fill the lagoon.

  25. January 13, 2017 5:05 pm

    Have any of these people ever visited a ship repair facility, one wonders. If they were to do so, they might learn what happens when steel is immersed in sea water.

  26. January 13, 2017 5:48 pm

    The BBC interviewed a professor who reckoned the reinforced steel in the lagoon’s concrete wall would be degraded by salty seawater within 60 years – unless the builders used the special concrete and techniques of the Ancient Romans.

  27. Denise Bowes permalink
    January 16, 2017 12:25 am

    How on earth did it ever get to this? The man is/was a joke.

  28. Denise Bowes permalink
    January 16, 2017 4:01 pm

    Tidal Lagoon Power has full page advertisement in Wetherspoons 25 year edition of Wetherspoonnews. Winter 2016/2017. This man has no shame. How do you pull a man who has no shame short?

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