Hendry Review: Swansea Bay back in the mix

Government's review of the viability of tidal lagoon electricity generation is expected to back the Swansea Bay project as a pathfinder scheme later this week. The review, being carried out by the former energy minister Charles Hendry, was announced in February 2016 after a period of government prevarication over the circa £1.2bn costs of the scheme, which would require a relatively high energy strike price to make the scheme affordable for investors.

However, Hendry's review is likely to come out in support of Swansea Bay, according to reports in the Guardian today. The scheme is the furthest progressed of a total of six proposals for tidal lagoon power projects, which together could provide up to 10% of the UK's energy needs while giving a big helping hand to government efforts towards meeting national carbon reduction targets.

Supporters of tidal lagoon power have argued that the current system of calculating strike prices for buying energy from suppliers is too short sighted. Lagoon energy is expensive to buy initially, but is highly reliable. Strike prices should be calculated over a longer time frame of pay-back of the initial capital investment, the project's sponsors have said.

Hendry is reported to have visited a number of communities close to where tidal lagoon schemes have been proposed. Such schemes are being seen as highly valuable for creation of local jobs and economic regeneration in general. Last year the Swansea Bay project was hailed as a significant project for helping South East Wales in light of job losses from the steel industry in and around Port Talbot.

The Hendry Review was launched to 'establish an evidence base' for making future decisions on tidal energy, including a broad based assessment of possible financing structures for such schemes. Other proposed tidal projects are proposed for sites with high tidal ranges near Cardiff, Newport, Colwyn Bay, the Cumbrian coast and Bridgwater Bay in Somerset.