Booker On Swansea Bay
By Paul Homewood
Booker’s take on Swansea Bay:
At the centre of all the excitable media puffs given to Charles Hendry’s report on Swansea Bay and tidal energy (led inevitably by the BBC), there was a crucial black hole. Not one report focused on how absurdly tiny is the amount of electricity this colossal expenditure and environmental havoc will produce.
Described as “independent”, this review by an ex-energy minister was all that could have been wanted by Swansea’s would-be developer, Mark Shorrock, who promotes himself as “the Brunel of tidal energy”.
Echoing claims made by his expensive PR firm, Hendry gave a glowing account not only of the £1.3 billion Swansea project itself but of five other, much larger schemes that Shorrock is proposing, including three more in the Bristol Channel, which for £40 billion, they claim, could meet 8 per cent of all Britain’s electricity needs.
The lagoon layout Credit: Wales News Service/Wales News Service
In fact, the £1.3 billion Swansea scheme alone, working at full power for just a few hours a day, would on average generate only a pitiful 48 megawatts (MW), which they initially hope to sell for a mind-blowing £123 per MW hour, three times the current normal wholesale cost of electricity. A 2,000MW gas-fired power station recently built for £1 billion at Pembroke is capable of producing nearly 40 times as much, whenever needed and without subsidy, at a third of the cost.
That such projects can actually be taken seriously is a measure of just what a bizarre dreamworld we are being carried into by the drive to “decarbonise” Britain. The real test will come when we see how ministers respond to Hendry’s recommendations, when all the hard facts indicate that this is one of the most ludicrous confections of make‑believe any British government has ever been asked to fall for.