IPPToday #210: Ecotricity proposes 760 MW offshore tidal project in UK
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Ecotricity has presented the UK government with proposals for two tidal lagoon projects. The lagoons would be located in the Solway Firth, which straddles the border of England and Scotland to the west. They would each produce 380 MW of electricity and cost GBP650 million (US$879.8 million) to develop.
Ecotricity has partnered with Tidal Electric – the originators of the tidal lagoon concept, to develop the Solway projects; and has signalled to the UK government that they are ready to take part in a competitive process, to ensure value for public money.
Ecotricity is presenting this project as an alternative to the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon, which has been in development since 2014 but repeatedly failed to secure the government's approval due to hesitation over its cost, which Ecotricity believes is excessive.
A joint select committee review of the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon begun earlier this week. It would generate 320 MW of electricity and cost GBP1.3 billion (US$1.76 billion) to develop.
Thus, Ecotricity's proposals are much more cost-effective. The company cite the superior economics to the installation of the lagoons offshore instead of onshore. Offshore tidal lagoons cost less to build, operate more efficiently and have significantly less environmental impact.
Dale Vince, founder of Ecotricity, has stated:
“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."
"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. "
"The reasons cited to move quickly to support this expensive first tidal lagoon project (Swansea) have all fallen away. The case for an open competitive process, to kick start this nascent industry and ensure value for public money, remains compelling. "
Vince compared the potential success of competitive procurement of tidal power to offshore wind power. The costs of developing projects based on technology have fallen by 50% in the last three years, allowing a huge increase in the number of projects being developed and successful harnessing of natural resources.