Tidal power programme creates thousands of new jobs

An estimated 6,400 new jobs are forecast to spring from the construction of six tidal lagoon power plants around the UK’s coast in the coming year. Over the 12-year construction period, the project is predicted to sustain an annual average of 36,000 jobs over the period and up to 71,000 jobs at its peak.

The fleet of six tidal lagoons are designed to harness power and contribute £27bn to the UK economy over 12 years (2015 to 2027). This would supply up to 8% of the UK’s electricity needs and annually contribute £3.1bn to UK GDP over the 120-year design life. Enough energy will be produced to power approximately 8 million UK homes.

As many of the components can be sourced within the UK, the tidal lagoon infrastructure investment offers one of the best returns of GDP impact per pound invested in comparison with other energy investments.

The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) reports that building the lagoons would position the UK as a leader in world markets in the new technology, which would lead to exports potentially worth £70bn between the years 2030 and 2050. CEBR also reports that the UK has a distinct advantage in having some of the largest tidal range resources in the world.

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The CEBR’s economic case for a tidal lagoon industry is hinged on the infrastructure’s ability to make a significant addition to the range of options for clean electricity generation. Most significantly, the project will help to achieve a decarbonised power sector, enabling the UK to capture significant additional value from the wider industrial benefits that the sector will deliver. Presently, the UK is increasingly dependent on imported fuel and imports for gas demands are projected to rise to 92% by 2030. The current political crises in Ukraine and the Middle East highlight the dangers of excessive reliance on imported energy from politically unstable parts of the world.

The tidal lagoons are anticipated to benefit local areas in which they will be built by providing a much-needed stimulus to local economies as the majority of lagoons are due to be based in relatively deprived areas. Tidal lagoons will also potentially provide a solution to the coastal flooding problems that have previously been endured.

Douglas McWilliams, Founder and Executive Chairmand of the CEBR, said: “Tidal lagoon is not the only renewable technology being deployed in the UK but it could be the important missing piece in the energy generation mix. In contrast to wind and solar, it produces totally predictable power 14 hours a day, reducing the cost of stand-by generators. The electricity it produces is expected to be cheaper than offshore wind and similar in cost to new nuclear.”

McWilliams believes that the tidal lagoon industry has the potential to not only make a significant contribution to the UK economy, but also to help the UK to secure energy independence well into the future.

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