Investment in tidal energy will provide a huge boost to steelmaking and other industries, creating many thousands of jobs in South Wales, the head of the Government’s independent review of tidal lagoon power, Charles Hendry, heard during a visit to Newport on Thursday (14th July).
He was told that the lagoons were needed to power the GREENSTEEL programme of Liberty Steel and its sister company SIMEC in Newport.
The former energy minister visited the Liberty Steel Newport plant, which was reopened last October, saving 170 jobs, and which is now earmarked for major growth, powered by tidal and other forms of renewable energy.
During his visit to the steelworks and to SIMEC’s neighbouring Uskmouth Power Station, Mr Hendry viewed the sites of the potential Newport and Cardiff Tidal Lagoons, both of which are located in the Severn Estuary close to these large industrial operations. Liberty is a major investor in Tidal Lagoon plc which is aiming to bring forward a series of tidal energy projects in Wales and the wider UK, following the building of a pilot lagoon at Swansea Bay.
Liberty House Group Executive Chairman, Sanjeev Gupta, outlined the company’s GREENSTEEL vision to Mr Hendry and his tidal lagoon review team. This involves the creation of a fully-integrated industry that makes steel by recycling locally-sourced scrap in electric arc furnaces powered by renewable energy, and then turning the steel into a wide range of engineered products for UK and export markets.
He said: “Tidal lagoon power provides the perfect catalyst to make the GREENSTEEL model work. Not only does it provide clean, reliable and low-cost energy for current and future generations, but the creation of lagoons stimulates ongoing demand for turbines and a whole host of steel products, which in turn will generate thousands of skilled jobs in Welsh and UK steel, engineering and manufacturing sectors.”
Mr Hendry’s review will assess the strategic case for tidal lagoons and whether they could play a cost-effective role as part of the UK energy mix. The review will also help establish an evidence base for all decisions regarding tidal lagoon energy.
Its findings are expected to be announced before the end of the year and will influence the decision on the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon, which in turn will trigger future lagoon projects in the Severn Estuary and elsewhere around the UK coast.
A new report published this week by Tidal Lagoon Power highlighted Britain’s impending ‘power deficit’. It stated that, with power demand due to rise and older power stations coming off line, the UK is going to need 58 GigaWatts of extra capacity by 2030, while only 18GW of new capacity has so far been consented. Total current capacity is 85GW.
Jay Hambro, CEO of SIMEC Energy said these figures highlighted the urgency for Government to support investors wanting to bring forward renewable energy projects such as tidal, biomass and waste-to-energy.
“Tidal lagoons alone have the potential to provide 8% of Britain’s energy needs with zero carbon emissions. It will meet our environmental targets, make our steel sector cleaner and more competitive and provide numerous long-term economic benefits to South Wales and surrounding regions. The case in favour is overwhelming,” he added.
During the visit to the steelworks and power station Mr Hendy also met Newport City Council leaders Councillor Debbie Wilcox and chief executive, Will Godfrey.
Charles Hendry and Sanjeev Gupta at LIberty's site in Newport, Wales