Ministers’ determination to shelve a pioneering wave energy scheme in Swansea Bay is predicated on proof – but in addition ideology
The UK authorities’s determination to shelve plans to construct the world’s first tidal lagoon off Swansea Bay is a tough blow for Wales. That it comes within the wake of Airbus’s warning that 6,000 jobs at its Broughton manufacturing unit in Flintshire are being put in danger by persevering with uncertainty over Brexit, and on the identical day that the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders sounded the alarm over the way forward for automobile constructing within the UK, solely serves to extend the ache. Ford employs 1,700 individuals at its Bridgend plant, whereas a brand new Aston Martin manufacturing unit is because of open in south Wales subsequent yr. The tidal lagoon venture, had it gone forward, was anticipated to create 2,200 jobs, plus extra within the provide chain. These are the sorts of jobs that Wales, so broken by metal and coal closures, wants. But the enterprise secretary, Greg Clark, has determined the nation can’t have them as a result of they might be too costly.
It’s true that tidal lagoon energy is expensive in the mean time. The so-called strike worth that the federal government must agree for Swansea’s electrical energy, to get the venture off the bottom, lay between £92.70 and £150 per megawatt hour (MWh), with the distinction accounted for by a Welsh authorities subsidy, and the period of the contract. While the UK authorities’s rejection of the scheme – on which the corporate says it has spent £35m – was based mostly on the upper determine of £150 over 30 years, the corporate stated that, given an extended contract of 60 years, it might provide electrical energy at £92.70, the identical as Hinkley Point C nuclear energy station, the federal government’s flagship vitality venture in Somerset (Hinkley Point’s strike worth is fastened for 35 years). The Welsh authorities stated that its supply of a £200m subsidy made the Swansea venture – meant to be the primary of six British tidal lagoons, 4 of them in Wales – aggressive with Hinkley even on the same time span. Welsh politicians have reacted with comprehensible fury to Mr Clark’s announcement, which comes virtually precisely 12 months after the federal government deserted plans to impress the railway from Cardiff to Swansea, and only a day after MPs voted to press forward with one other costly infrastructure venture: a 3rd runway at Heathrow.