The British government looks set to green-light a vast tidal lagoon hydro-electricity power plant in Swansea Bay, south Wales. Matthew Stock reports.
This is Swansea Bay in south Wales. Plans are afoot to build a vast hydro-electicity plant here that will supply more than 150,000 homes with their annual energy needs. This is the vision for the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon. A horseshoe-shaped 9-and-a-half kilometre causeway, creating a huge lagoon. Halfway round, up to 26 bi-directional turbines -- generating power whichever way the water flows. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MARK SHORROCK, CEO OF SWANSEA BAY TIDAL LAGOON, SAYING: "Imagine a run-of-river hydro-station in a river but the water being able to run back up the river again. So we'll have a breakwater built out of the sea with turbines in the outer edge of it. And those turbines are capable of turning when you empty the water out of our man-made lagoon and when you fill the water up. So they generate electricity on the flood tide and on the ebb tide." This is the first such energy initiative to enclose the sea, effectively creating a man-made lagoon. It's hoped the 320 megawatt Swansea project will act as a template for 6 more around the UK. All 7 tidal lagoons together would meet about 30 percent of the country's electricity needs. And it's more reliable and predictable than other renewables, say the developers. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MARK SHORROCK, CEO OF SWANSEA BAY TIDAL LAGOON, SAYING: "That's the biggest difference between tidal power and, say, wind and solar power is that the wind is intermittent and you get the sun during the day. With the tides you always have certain electricity at certain times of the day and then that's staggered at shifts by 40 minutes everyday." The project is expected to cost about 1.3 billion pounds, but will have a 120 year lifespan. With government approval imminent, they hope to start the four-year construction next year.