Hopes of building a £1.3bn “tidal lagoon” in Wales to generate energy by harnessing the power of the tide have been dashed after the Government said project does not offer value for money.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said the scheme – which would have been a world first – would not receive public funding because the power it produced would be three times more expensive than than energy from Hinkley Point nuclear power station.

At today’s prices, the same amount of power from the lagoon over 60 years would cost £400m to be generated from offshore wind farms – the cost of which is expected to fall in the future.

Grossly expensive isn’t the technology to favour really, is it?

36 thoughts on “Seems fair”

  1. If the Welsh chuck in £500/head then they can have their tidal lagoon. Perhaps the various political parties in the Welsh Assembly should try standing on a manifesto of a tax rise of £2k for a family of 4 and see how popular that is?

  2. Surprised BluLabour had the nous to bin the ecofreak crap for once.

    Follow it up by binning the toy train set and Cross Rail two too.

    Start acting as if somebody had to earn the money the scummy state pisses away.

  3. Cheaper doesn’t mean cheap. God awful expensive off shore wind will become just incredibly expensive.

  4. @ Gamecock
    Last published accounts showed Lincolnshire offshore wind farm collecting more than four times as much from subsidies as it did from selling electricity and it still lost money.

  5. Currently, I see that, on this balmy and sunny day, wind is providing just over 5% of our electricity needs, versus nuclear’s 20%.

    To be fair, though, solar is currently providing just short of 23%. However, it is midday, in the midlle of a summer heatwave; if not now, when?

  6. It’s amazing how all this green electricity being produced nowadays doesn’t colour the light bulbs.

  7. Bloke in North Dorset

    I’ll believe off shore costs are going to come down once maintenance budget forecasts have been tested by reality.

  8. i’m not saying that i wouldnt prefer a combined cycle gas plant to tidal or wind power.

    but at least tidal happens (dependably) every day … wind does not, and that dependability may make it worth paying up for tidal vs wind …

    still would prefer a natty gas plant though

  9. People squeeze their toothpaste tubes twice per day – this makes about as sensible as tidal energy as a predictable flow to be harnessed.

    Nuke’m and frak’m

  10. TC: Dependability, yes, but it still has a generation profile with big holes in it, which have to be filled by something else.

    The problem with all renewables that have variable generation profile (which is all of them currently) is that their presence messes up the economic case for investment in gas/coal/nuclear as they, collectively, have to have an inverse generation profile to fill the holes against demand.

  11. True, TG. Penetration of ‘renewables’ is limited to the point where reliables become economically unfeasible. My guess is 30% max.

  12. The doubts about the merits of this scheme were raised right at the beginning , it never added up accept to the people behind the scheme who would have made millions at the taxpayers expense, how did it get so far down the line ?

  13. I really don’t understand how the sums required a strike cost of three times Hinkley, which lets face it isn’t exactly low

    I accept the capital costs upfront are probably huge but once you have done it the running costs must surely be minimal and an ideal long term investment for infrastructure/pension funds

    Has it been made unsustainable by a huge number of ‘green’ requirements?

    Has anyone seen it all spelled out anywhere?

    Interestingly one of the prime movers behind the scheme just happens to own a disused quarry in south Cornwall which was to be the origin of the breakwaters’ foundations (clearly there is no stone available in south wales…)

  14. @ Gamecock
    In Norway they could get it to 100%. But they don’t rely on wind – they have a negative component for wind since when Denmark has surplus wind it exports power to Norway who use it pump water uphill.

  15. @ starfish
    Erosion. We had pictures recently of homes falling of a cliff. They are basing everything on a predicted 20-year life.
    Me I grew up in a Village with a Saxon Church (OK, some bits were later additions/improvements but the stone Tower was Saxon) and my second-year college rooms (OK, walls, floor and roof) were 10th century.
    I don’t regard something that its sponsors claim to have a 20 year life as a long-term investment comparable to the millennium-plus that Saxon church- and college-builders produced.
    If you have to write off the horrendous cost of the concrete infrastructure and steel machinery over a mere 20 years because you don’t know how to build in granite then THAT is your main cost and “free” energy is virtually irrelevant

  16. @john77


    20 year life – really?Explains the costs!

    Seems ridiculous for infrastructure that involves relatively little moving parts

    Turbines must have predictable lives and there is oodles of data on breakwater maintenance

  17. @diogenes

    Ships seem to survive quite well as do North Sea oil platforms and the Thames Barrier, and we seem to be sticking a large proportion of the renewable wind sector offshore too(maintenance costs yet to materialise there I suspect…)

    The physics and material issues are well understood, and I would have thought there are solutions

    I still think there is a black hole in these estimates – someone seems to be assuming large costs for something that has not been publicised

  18. When reading up the tidal lagoon fix prices I kept wondering if I was dropping a zero in converting to unit prices. 9pm per unit is on the high side of reasonable enough, 90p per unit is insane.

  19. This has been kicking around forever recall people taking about it 20 years ago at least, won’t be surprised if it’s ressurected in some form or another. The Severn estuary one is also keeps being raised, though I think the last environmental impact to the wetlands killed that one off.
    Agree the 20 year payback on these schemes is crazy, it at least has a level of predictability that makes it seem better than offshore wind and an ideal investment for pension funds as a 50-yr project. The Severn rail tunnel is over 100 years old and there’s plenty of breakwaters older than 20 years so it’s not like it’s imposisble to build this stuff to last

  20. @ Bnic
    It’s not like it’s impossible to build this stuff to last – sure!
    Granite or Basalt
    Salt-water-resistant coatingson turbines
    Honest men promoting the project – ah – that could be important!
    Basically the sums don’t add up so all the honest guys have given up and gone away

  21. CEO Mark Shorrock said Mr Clark was “clearly misinformed”, “He says Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon will cost three times nuclear,” the chief executive added. “This is incorrect. Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon will add just 30p to consumers’ bills whereas Hinkley Point C will add £12 or more to bills.”.

    The 30p vs £12 is diversion. Swansea intermittent ~0.15pc of UK electricity vs Hinckley C constant ~6.5% of UK electricity

  22. I’m unsure why this has been binned. Yes, it is insanely expensive, but the Prime Cretin has heard of a Richie fantasy and is a dyed in the wool MMT believer.

    How else to explain the £20billion to the NHS? Makes the £13 billion for Swansea look like peanuts. (To get a true figure for the cost of any govt project, move the decimal point to the right)

  23. Bloke in North Dorset

    “ but once you have done it the running costs must surely be minimal and an ideal long term investment for infrastructure/pension funds”

    Nothing is cheap when sea water, the relentless pressures of tides, and we’re talking some of the biggest tides in the world, and Atlantic gales are involved.

    As for ships, the maintenance is endless and requires expensive dry docks for big boats and lift outs for little ones.

    We sailors moan like mad about the cost of stuff through chandlers, but I made the mistake that of using cheap screws for my pontoon fenders when I first got the in to boat ownership, never again. I’m now happy to pay >3x more than B&Q prices for anything exposed to the elements.

  24. This reminds me of the claim that Thatcher closed the mines, when she didn’t close any. She just said there would be no subsidies from government funds, but there was nothing to stop them staying open without them if they wished.
    Now we have the false claim that the UK government has put the kybosh on the lagoon project.

  25. ‘Now we have the false claim that the UK government has put the kybosh on the lagoon project.’

    Exactly. If the Welsh think its such a great investment, they can spend their money on it.

  26. @Bongo
    And all the deep mines in the Ruhr, Belgium and N France closed at the same time. Coincidence? (No, economics.)

  27. So Much For Subtlety

    The French have had a tidal power station at Rance in Brittany since the Sixties:


    I do not believe their costings, but the point is that they typically incur a massive up-front construction cost but if they can keep working over many years, once that is paid off[1], then they are likely to produce cheap power. Like nuclear.

    [1] 1966 I note. Such good timing. The two decades it took to pay off would run to some time around 1986. In other words, inflation meant the bankers took an absolute bath.

    The real problem is environmental. I am not a Green by any means, especially as Greens are all Watermelons, but I am serious about the environment and tidal estuaries are pretty much some of the most important bits of the environment we have left. And they should not be covered in concrete and then flooded at unnatural times. If anyone is stupid enough to build a barrage across the Severn I will go and chain myself to one of the damn bulldozers even if I have to sit near the witches from Greenham Common to do it.

    There is no where, or virtually no where, where such a scheme would not be a disaster. What you want is a large bay with a small inlet that happens to have very high tides. There aren’t many of those. Canada has a couple of proposals. Argentina has one. Korea is building half a dozen and will no doubt destroy what is left of their coast line. Russia has some in the Far East.

    But there is one being built in Scotland on the Pentland Firth which is slightly less of an abomination. Being not a firth as it happens. But the problem with the environment is that when you want to take power out, someone else is already using it.

  28. @BiND
    Yes, but this marine technology is not new, it has been deployed in many scenarios, not least the offshore oil industry and there are solutions as John77 mentions. The numbers they are quoting are stupendous and while the site is exposed there are centuries of climatic data to design against

    @ Jim (silt)

    Yes, but that was presumably factored into their costs?

  29. @SMFS

    It is interesting how environmental issues do not seem to have been the reason

    Still, its refreshing that a CBA has finally been used – perhaps it could be extended to other renwables?

  30. @So Much For Subtlety, July 3, 2018 at 9:40 am

    ” What you want is a large bay with a small inlet that happens to have very high tides.”

    Strangford Lough?

  31. Well if you are going to make people pay extra for “green” lecky, then at least this project has some positive sides.
    Firstly, while it does have two null points/day, there is some flexibility in how the turbines and sluices are operated that can shift it a little. Not to mention, that the tides are predictable months (even years) in advance – unlike (as mentioned) wind ! Also, tides are distributed around the country – so several of these lagoons would largely eliminate this effect (especially if deliberately operated so as to maximise the levelling).
    There’s a significant amenity value as well – which will be adding to the costs. Eg, instead of just building “a pile of rubble”, the wall will have a roadway etc on top allowing public access etc.
    Having seen a (mostly technical) presentation on the project, it’s hard to see where the massive costs come from – though I suspect there’s a lot of “green taxes” loaded on (can’t interfere with the fish fornicating can we !) It’s also a first (for this country and scale) – so what did early wind and nuclear cost ?
    Given the choice between something like this, and an array of visually intrusive windmills wherever I look, I know which I’d prefer.

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