World’s first ever tidal lagoon power plant making waves in the UK

Swansea’s award-winning tidal lagoon project will be the first of its kind, and plans for its build have been revealed in an expensive but innovative development in renewable energy generation.


High tides hit the Welsh shores twice a day, meaning Wales has one of the highest tidal ranges in the world. Tides flow in and out four times a day; an abundance of untapped UK energy generation potential, according to the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon project.

The ambitious proposal is to build a long sea wall and create an artificial lagoon that uses hydro power from the tides to generate electricity. In numbers, that’s:

9.5km sea wall, enclosing an 11.5km2 man-made lagoon off the coast of Wales
£1bn approximate investment cost
100,000-155,000 British homes that could be powered annually by the electricity generated
Six tidal lagoon plants that are in the works, including three more Welsh sites and one each in Cumbria and Somerset
£30bn – the new investment cost if these five other projects are also given the green light.

How is it being built?

A ‘drudger’ machine will suck up seabed gravel which will then be reformed and replaced on the bed as “high strength geotubes” (large sacks filled with natural materials to create a strong foundation).

The tubes are layered up, cemented in place with sand and layers of rock. There’ll be a pathway along the length of wall, 2.8miles above the high-tide line, available for public walking and biking, and possibly an electric train.


How does it make power?

Within the sea wall there will be a 550m long turbine house, containing up to 26 large turbines in a row. As the tides flow in, the water will filter through these turbines and into the lagoon, and back out again as the tides recede. This flowing sea water will generate electricity 14 hours a day.

What else will the project bring to the area?

Aside from a new wealth of renewable energy? We’ve broken it down below.

Jobs: The project has been called a catalyst that will remake the British engineering and construction industry. This bold claim could seem quite likely, as estimates are stating that 70,000 new long-term jobs could be created if all six projects go ahead.

Environmental efforts: The sea wall plans include a 10km sea reef, to protect and promote marine ecosystem regeneration. It will also play home to a mariculture farm that will reintroduce the native oyster to Swansea Bay, as well as mussels, sea vegetation and more – an increase that will also help revive the historic local industry, and hopefully bring around more jobs.


Recreation: All well as being a well-located seaside walking spot, the lagoon is already being suggested as a site to host national and international sports events. The arena is being proposed as a site for triathlons, sailing teams, rowing competitions and any other water-based sporting activities and occasions.


Culture and Tourism: Locally-inspired art will adorn parts of the wall, including a dragon in the rocks that will emerge as the tide sinks, and glowing orbs that will illuminate a path to the visitor’s centre. This visitor’s centre is already known as The Oyster, a sustainable building where visitors can learn about the project and enjoy the natural surroundings.


Anything else?

The team behind the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon was recently presented with the President’s Award, the top prize at the Landscape Institute Awards, as well as several other awards and commendations for a “landscape-led piece of nationally important infrastructure,” with an “exemplary” range of amenities alongside the main build.

The project is hoping to begin construction in late 2015, but with the first connection into the National Grid anticipated in 2019, we have a while to wait before we enjoy this seaside energy asset.

Check out the link below to view the full project proposal video, complete with artistic impressions of the completed lagoon.

Keep up to date with project Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay by visiting their website here.