Energy trade association RenewableUK calls the UK "the undisputed global leader in marine energy." If plans for a tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay go ahead, that claim will be reinforced. Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay would be the world’s first man-made energy-generating lagoon and could power over 155,000 homes.
Renewable energy is, of course, an area of huge importance and growth. A 2011 study by researchers at University of California-Davis and Stanford University suggests that the world could be powered completely by clean energy within 20-40 years.
Of the renewable options available, tidal is particularly intriguing. Renewable UK says wave and tidal energy could produce around 20 percent of the UK’s current electricity needs, and that the ongoing reduction in its technology costs will make it increasingly viable from a commercial perspective.
Swansea Bay has a high tidal range of up to 10.5 m (34 ft), making it an ideal location for tidal power generation. The proposal would see a 9.5 km (6 mi) lagoon wall constructed, halfway round which would be a 550 m (1,804 ft) turbine housing. The turbine housing would provide a means of allowing water to flow in and out of the lagoon as the tide rises and falls. Up to 26 turbines would be contained in the housing and would be driven with the flow of water in and out of the lagoon.
The Tidal Lagoon (Swansea Bay) development group says the lagoon would provide an energy production capacity of 320 MW and would provide sustainable and predictable electricity for 120 years of operation. In addition to generating electricity, the lagoon would provide opportunities for arts, culture, education, recreation and conservation activities.
Naturally, watersports such as sailing and rowing would be possible in the lagoon, along with cycling and running around the lagoon wall itself. A visitor center will provide a place to learn about tidal power and the construction of the lagoon, whilst a community marine farm would be created in the shallows of the lagoon. It is thought that the lagoon would also help to stimulate local regeneration and the creation of jobs.
The lagoon has been accepted for consideration as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project. Planning and marine license decisions are expected in early 2015.
The video below provides an introduction to the project.
Source: Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay