Investors are being urged to help “change the balance of the UK’s energy mix” by pledging money towards a pioneering tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay, which has launched a community share offer.
The project, which hopes to begin generating power for 120,000 local Welsh homes by 2017, is inviting investments of at least £800 in order to help it through the development phase. Although it can’t split shares, groups of investors can collectively pledge the £800.
It hopes to raise £2m from the community, and £8m from professional investors and elsewhere.
The launch of the share offer comes on the same day as a committee of MPs criticised plans to build a tidal barrage across the river Severn, which it said may not bring about the environmental and economic advantages it suggests. Committee chair Tim Yeo MP said the proposals were “no knight in shining armour” for renewable energy in the UK.
The Swansea Bay tidal lagoon project – which developers say will be 240-300 megawatts (MW) in capacity – recently featured in Blue & Green Tomorrow’s Guide to Limitless Clean Energy 2013.
Mark Shorrock, CEO of Tidal Lagoon Power, the company behind it, said, “The UK has 16 power stations, representing a quarter of the UK’s total generating capacity, which are coming to their end of life between now and 2023.
“Given the consequential significant forecast reduction in the UK’s capacity to meet demand for electricity from the end of 2015, we believe that now is the right time for the UK to consider harnessing one of its major natural resources, the sea, to provide 10% of the UK’s electricity baseload requirements through the creation of a programme of tidal lagoons.”
The tidal lagoon share offer forms part of a £10m funding search, £5m of which qualifies for the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) – a tax relief designed to encourage investment in smaller companies. £2m of this figure has been set aside for local people and communities.
Tidal Lagoon Power stressed that investment in the project is high risk, and that if the firm doesn’t raise the required £10m to fund a development phase, the project may fall through.
However, Shorrock added, “I do want to underscore that as an investor you will be joining us in taking these risks although through your financial support you will be strengthening this project and help ensure it becomes a reality.
“We believe that tidal lagoons are a viable, large-scale alternative to traditional fossil fuel and nuclear electricity production.
“They combine proven technologies and civil engineering construction methodologies in an innovative configuration to generate predictable, clean electricity for our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.”
The share offer is open for five weeks, closing on July 15, and people based in Wales will be given priority. Those interested are encouraged to visit the project’s website.