By Ruth Lumley
Tidal lagoons could contribute £27 billion to the UK economy and help parts of the country prone to flooding, according to a new report.
The six proposed lagoons from Tidal Lagoon Power would bring money in during the 12-year building process, sustaining an average of 36,000 jobs a year, with up to 71,000 jobs at its peak, the study commissioned by the Centre for Economics and Business Research said.
Once fully operational, the lagoons could contribute £3.1 billion over their 120-year lifespan and could produce enough energy to power almost eight million homes.
Construction would involve sourcing most of the building materials from within the UK, which would ensure that the investment programme delivers one of the best returns in terms of impact per pound invested across the entire energy sector.
Tidal lagoon electricity and building materials and expertise to support tidal lagoon projects abroad, combined with a reduction in fossil fuel imports, could increase exports by as much as £3.7 billion per year by 2040, equivalent to 13 per cent of the current trade deficit.
The majority of the lagoons will be based in relatively deprived areas, providing a much-needed boost to local economies and they will also offer a solution to the coastal flooding problems.
Douglas McWilliams, founder and executive chairman of the Centre for Economic and Business Research, said: “Tidal lagoon is not the only renewable technology being deployed in the UK but it could be the important missing piece in the energy generation mix.
“In contrast to wind and solar, it produces totally predictable power 14 hours a day, reducing the cost of stand-by generators.
“The electricity it produces is expected to be cheaper than offshore wind and similar in cost to new nuclear.
“What this study demonstrates is that, not only does a tidal lagoon industry have the potential to make a significant contribution to the UK economy, but that it can also help secure our energy independence for many years to come.
“As such, the study is an important and timely contribution to the debate on this country’s energy future.”
Mark Shorrock, chief executive officer of Tidal Lagoon Power Ltd, added: “The UK will soon decide whether or not to embrace tidal lagoon infrastructure.
“Having analysed all of the costs and all of the savings associated with this decision, this study clearly demonstrates that the annual benefits to the national economy would be enormous, immediate and long-lived.
“To realise this opportunity in full, we will have to marry economic benefit with environmental sensitivity and social acceptance.
“Our proposals for Swansea Bay have proved that this can be done and establish a blueprint for an infrastructure roll-out that we now know could account for ten percent or more of UK growth.”
John Cridland, director general at the Confederation of British Industry, said: “We urgently need to upgrade our energy infrastructure, we need to capture greater value from green investments, and we need to rebalance our economy away from the South East.
“This report paints a compelling picture for the potential contribution of tidal lagoon infrastructure in each of these areas.
“We have the resource and we have the industry. The question is, do we have the resolve?”
Dee Nunn, wave and tidal development manager for trade association RenewableUK, said: “This report shows the huge potential value of tidal lagoons to the UK.
“This technology alone could produce as much of eight per cent of the UK’s electricity needs, and create jobs and growth.
“However, for the tidal sector to really flourish, there needs to be a clear vision for the role of the technology in our future energy needs, which means looking beyond 2020”.
This was first published on Trillion Fund.