Penarth Times Column- Tidal Power

Climate change continues to be one of the biggest challenges facing the world today. We are already seeing the effects of climate change here in Wales. Over the last decade we have seen some of the heaviest rainfall to parts of Wales and the UK for almost 270 years. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has cited human activity as the main cause of the changes seen in climate during recent decades. In Wales, approximately 37% of our greenhouse gas emissions come from creating energy for use in our homes, offices and transport. Whilst our energy needs in a modern society will remain considerable they must be met securely from low carbon resources.

One such resource is tidal power. Converting the energy obtained from tides into useful forms of power, mainly electricity is part of our future. Although not yet widely used there are proposals for tidal lagoons across the UK. The Swansea Bay scheme would be the first of its kind in the world and is regarded as a small-scale prototype for bigger schemes. This is an important local issue as we live next to a significant renewable energy resource provided by the Severn Estuary.

Located in the Severn Estuary, a Cardiff lagoon would harness the second highest tidal range in the world. It could generate nearly as much electricity as the planned nuclear power station at Hinkley Point. A Cardiff project could comfortably meet the equivalent of the annual electricity requirement of every home in Wales. It would also create thousands of jobs in Wales and contribute significantly to the economy. A Cardiff Lagoon would of course have a considerable impact on our constituency.

However energy decisions are not fully devolved to the Welsh Government. Most of the responsibility for energy planning and policy lies with the UK Government. Last year the UK Government commissioned a report to look into what role if any tidal lagoons could play in Britain’s energy future. When considering large scale energy infrastructure projects there are important local and national considerations which must be taken into account, including energy security, climate change, lifestyle choices, jobs and the visible environment. The recently published Hendry report was overwhelmingly positive. In it he urged the UK Government to proceed “apace” with reaching agreement on financial support with Swansea lagoon developers Tidal Lagoon Power. I think we have much to gain from proceeding in Swansea. As with representatives across South Wales I believe the UK Government should finally act and give the green light to the Swansea Lagoon and a new industry.

I would be interested if you have any views on the proposed tidal lagoon, please get in touch by writing to the National Assembly for Wales, Cardiff Bay, CF99 1NA or by email at [email protected]