A consortium made up of General Electric and Andritz Hydro has been revealed as the team chosen to build 16 tidal energy turbines for a ground-breaking £1 billion tidal power project planned for Swansea Bay off the coast of South Wales.
Tidal Lagoon Power said on Tuesday that GE-Andritz had won a £300 million contract to build the turbines – each 60ft long, 20ft high and capable of producing 20MW/h – that will generate power from the rise and fall of the water in the Severn Estuary, which boasts the second highest tidal range in the world.
Once built, the project – the world’s first man-made, energy-generating lagoon – will have 320MW installed capacity and provide 14 hours of reliable generation every day – enough to power more than 155,000 homes for 120 years.
As part of the winning contract – announced on Tuesday – US-based GE and Andritz (Austria) committed to produce the majority of the turbines’ major components in the UK, along with all of the generators they contain. The generators, the highest value component of the turbines, will be built at GE’s UK plant in Rugby.
Once built, the turbines will be mounted on a huge seawall, where they will generate power by spinning as the tide rises and water flows through them, filling up the lagoon.
When the tide begins to fall, the process is reversed, allowing the turbines to again generate power from the flow of water as the lagoon empties.
As the Telegraph.co.uk reports, the Swansea lagoon is also hoped to act as a proof of concept for five larger such projects around the UK, which could ultimately provide 8 per cent of the UK’s energy.
At this stage, the huge project – which includes such extras as a mariculture farm and an electric tram running the length of a causeway surrounding the lagoon – is yet to get final planning approval.
But Wales Secretary of State Stephen Crabb says that, if consent is granted, the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon has the potential to transform the South Wales economy by creating hundreds of jobs and countless supply chain opportunities for local businesses across the region.
“It would also help secure our nation’s energy future and position Wales as a pioneer in low carbon technology. That’s why I am right behind this scheme and want to see it built in Wales,” Crabb said.
There is a great video about the project and its technology here.