Plans for a giant, manmade, renewable energy-generating tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay have been accepted for consideration by the Planning Inspectorate, it has been announced.
The £756m project, the first of its type in the world, would have an annual output of 495 megawatts (MW) – enough to power about 155,000 homes with clean and reliable power.
The project will entail the construction of a six-mile long U-shaped wall in the Port of Swansea to enclose over seven sq miles of tidal area. Submerged hydro turbines would be used to create clean electricity for over 120 years.
Thursday’s acceptance means that the application has met the required standards to move forward to public examination, before being considered by the secretary of state for energy and climate change, Ed Davey.
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Natural Resources Wales will also consider a separate application for the marine license that is required due to the lagoon’s location.
“This is a hugely important step in the process that will, hopefully, see us on site in Swansea Bay in spring 2015 with the first power being generated in 2018”, said Mark Shorrock, chief executive of Tidal Lagoon Power, the company responsible for the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon.
A report from the Cardiff Business School has suggested that the lagoon could inject as much as £300m into the Welsh economy.
It also found that the construction project would provide the equivalent of around 1,850 full-time jobs in the region, while the completed plant would create 60 permanent operational jobs and up to 90 more because of increased tourism.
It is hoped the site will become a visitor destination in its own right, as it will also offer a venue for sports, education and arts.
Its developers are also hoping that the project in Swansea Bay will be the first of many. Shorrock says he wants Swansea to become the supply chain hub for all similar projects.
“We have assembled a best-in-class consortium of UK and international industrial businesses to establish local production facilities and supply chains to serve Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay and future developments”, he said.
“We are confident from our work so far with representatives of Welsh industry that Wales has the skills base, experience and scalability to serve a larger UK tidal lagoon industry.”