Sian Crampsie

UK energy provider Ecotricity has unveiled plans for two tidal energy lagoons just ahead of a government review into the proposed Swansea Bay tidal lagoon project.

The company has revealed plans for tidal lagoon plants in the Solway Firth off the south-west coast of Scotland. It says that the projects would both generate as much electricity as the Swansea Bay proposal but would cost half as much to build.

Ecotricity unveiled its plans on 9 May as lawmakers on the business and Welsh affairs committee were preparing to begin taking evidence on the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon project.

Swansea Bay would have an installed capacity of 320 MW and would cost around £1 billion to build. Although it has been granted planning permission, its development has stalled over the reluctance of the government to support the scheme with a contract for difference (CfD).

“The government has done well to resist the last couple of years of intense lobbying pressure from backers of the Swansea scheme, there was never a case for paying that much or for moving too quickly to allow for proper competition,” said Dale Vince, founder of Ecotricity. “In the last year the asking price for the Swansea project appears to have dropped considerably (by up to half), that’s a valuable use of time by the government. But there’s more to go.”

Ecotricity is partnering with Tidal Electric to develop the Solway Firth projects and says that the superior economics of its proposals are delivered by siting the lagoons offshore instead of onshore. Offshore tidal lagoons cost less to build, operate more efficiently and have significantly less environmental impact, it said in a statement.

Vince added that the government should consider holding an open, competitive tender for tidal lagoon projects to “ensure value for public money”.