* First 1.3 bln stg project affordable, review finds
* Should act as "pathfinder" for larger projects
* Britain seeking projects to replace coal, nuclear
By Susanna Twidale
LONDON, Jan 12 Britain should go ahead with
plans to build what would be the world's first tidal lagoon
renewable power project, a government commissioned review said
Britain needs to invest in major new infrastructure to
replace aging coal and nuclear plants set to close in the 2020s,
and also needs to reduce is greenhouse gas emissions to meet its
"The evidence is clear that tidal lagoons can play a cost
effective role in the UK's energy mix and there is considerable
value in a small (less than 500 megawatts) pathfinder project,"
the report by former energy minister Charles Hendry said.
Tidal Lagoon Power has proposed starting building the 1.3
billion pound ($1.59 billion) project in South Wales in 2018. It
said it would take four years to complete.
The government asked Hendry last year to carry out the
review to see whether the technology could be economically
viable in Britain.
The project involves building a 9.5 km (6 mile)
horseshoe-shaped sea wall in Swansea Bay, about 170 miles west
of London, to capture tidal power.
When the tide drops, the difference between water levels
inside and outside the lagoon causes water to pass through
turbines to produce electricity. Similarly, when the tide rises,
power would be generated as water fills the lagoon.
While tidal changes have been harnessed before to generate
power, mostly deploying a barrage across a stretch of water,
this would be the first to enclose it, effectively creating a
Hendry said that as tidal projects were expected to last
around 120 years, it was difficult to compare their cost with
other sources of power generation such as nuclear plants, which
typically last around 45 years.
However, he said the average cost per household of a small
project such as Swansea Bay would be around 31 pence (38 cents)
per year per household over the first 30 years compared with 24
pence per household for nuclear.
"That's less than a pint of milk," Hendry told the BBC. "I
think we can start a new industry and we can do it at an
affordable cost to consumers."
For large scale projects, over 500 megawatts, the cost over
30 years would be 1.41 pounds per household per year, around 40
percent cheaper than the equivalent cost for nuclear.
Hendry's review said this 320 megawatt project could act as
a template for six much larger projects around the country.
If all seven projects were built they could have a total
capacity of 17.6 gigawatts, equivalent to around 30 percent of
the country's current electricity capacity.
The government and Tidal Lagoon Power are expected to
comment on the review later on Thursday.
($1 = 0.8157 pounds)
(Reporting by Susanna Twidale; Editing by Alison Williams)