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Branch Annual General Meeting 2015 and Swansea Tidal Lagoon presentation 20th May 2015

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Martin Gosden, the Branch Chair, conducted a brisk AGM, introduced the committee, gained approval of the 2014 AGM minutes, reviewed the past year and gave a concise programme for the next. Peter Wakeling, the Branch Treasurer, presented the financial statement for the previous financial year. Following election of the committee, Martin introduced our speaker for the evening, Ioan Jenkins, Wales Development Director, of Tidal Lagoon Power. 

Ioan started his presentation explaining the concept behind tidal power, which is to harness the power of the moon through the tidal rise and fall as a free reliable, sustainable resource. This is the first of its kind in the world and Swansea will be the proof of concept for a series of 6 tidal lagoons around the UK.  A major cause of project failure is technical risk, and the approach has been to use proven turbine technology and construction techniques.  Other risk involves environmental impact and community support.  Ioan explained that the project has unprecedented community support, and three years has been invested in planning for the project to understand the impact of the project on the environment and construction approach.

The Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon is the first of 6 much larger tidal lagoons planned for the UK which will provide 8-10% of the UKs power needs with low carbon power.  This is equivalent to 4400 off shore wind turbines or 6 nuclear power stations.  The design life is 120 years.
The Swansea project requires £1BN of private investment, with support from Government of a Contract for Difference over 35 Years to cover the investment.  Although the CFD is higher than Hinkley Point C Nuclear Power, mainly because of the small scale of Swansea Bay, it will then offer 85+ years of very cheap clean power.

Ioan explained that the vision includes creating a new UK industry base for the technology, with 50% Welsh content to regenerate the Swansea bay region and at least 65% total UK content. This will be driven by business hub around the Swansea bay area. The intention is to export the concept around the world.

A video highlighted the concept and vision for Swansea bay, which includes 9.5 Km of wall, varying between 5 to 20 M high, enclosing an area of 11.5 Km2  which include10 Km of reef, a marine farm for oysters and other sea food, a visitor centre and art installations. Bidirectional turbines will produce 300MW of power from 2 tides over 14 hrs per day, which will meet 85% of the domestic Swansea Bay power requirements. The turbine design is well proven with 45 years of operational experience in France.  The beak water walls will be built using proven geo-textile bags, dredged sand and rock facings.

Ioan explained that the final decision is expected from the Government in June following a considerable amount of work to prepare for the project.  This has included an exhaustive environmental impact report, a public consultation, which showed 86% local support for the lagoon, hydrodynamic modelling, planning for linking to the National Grid, turbine design options.  Value engineering will commence shortly to drive construction costs down and a marine licence is needed from the Welsh Government. An Industrial Advisory Group was formed to help research and develop a Welsh and UK supply chain for Swansea and the other lagoons, working with potential manufacturers. For instance 9 of the 12 major turbine components will be sourced in UK and Wales by Andritz Hydro. 
The environment impact has been thoroughly investigated and positive opportunities identified including an artificial reef, bird nesting sites, increasing diversity of the environment, and shell fish farming.  The economic impact will provide 1850 construction jobs, 60 operational jobs and 90 leisure jobs, providing around £650M over the operational life time to the local economy.  It is expected to attract up to 100,000 visitors per annum and will provide many sports and leisure facilities as well as culture and art installations. There are also education initiatives at primary and secondary level to create interest in STEM careers.

A planning decision is due on 10 June from the Government, with the £1BN finance to be raised by end of 2015. Construction will start 2016 with first power on line during 2019.

This is a significant first investment in tidal power generation in the UK, with a clear vision to expand with 5 much larger lagoons, and to build a UK and Welsh industrial base to export the technology worldwide. 

Ioan's presentation can be viewed below.

Martin Gosden
Branch Chair


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