Tidal Lagoons May Add $46 Billion to U.K. Economy, Report Shows

Jul 16, 2014 8:01 am ET

July 16 (Bloomberg) -- Installing tidal lagoon power plants at a half-dozen sites across the country may add as much as 27 billion pounds ($46 billion) to the U.K. economy over a 12-year span starting as early as next year, according to a report.

The six facilities under consideration by Tidal Lagoon Power Ltd. would supply 8 percent of the nation’s electricity and annually contribute billions to the gross domestic product, the Centre for Economics and Business Research report found.

“We urgently need to upgrade our energy infrastructure, we need to capture greater value from green investments, and we need to re-balance our economy away from the South East,” John Cridland, director general at the CBI, the U.K.’s main business lobbying group, said in a statement today from Tidal Lagoon Power. “This report paints a compelling picture for the potential contribution of tidal lagoon infrastructure.”

Tidal Lagoon Power plans, subject to consenting approval, to build its first 9.5-kilometer (6-mile) facility across Swansea Bay in Wales. The first project will be a “proof-of- concept” facility costing about 1 billion pounds.

Currently there are no commercial-scale marine-energy projects operating as developers test and scale up devices while trying to curb energy costs. As such, tidal power remains one of the most expensive forms of renewable energy.

Full-scale projects will require an estimated capital investment of 4 billion pounds to 6 billion pounds each.

Construction at the Swansea Bay site is expected to start in the first half of 2015, with power generation from 2018. The other sites haven’t been publicly identified.

In a tidal-power plant, water is trapped and released from the lagoon through turbines, considered less damaging to the environment than tidal barrages. The U.K. last year rejected plans for such a barrage across the Severn River.

Tidal Lagoon Power has been developing and testing its technology for three years alongside such businesses as Alstom SA, Andritz AG and General Electric Co.