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Tidal power worth 'billions' to Northern manufacturers

Published:  12 October, 2016

A summit held at Sheffield Forgemasters has heard how power from tidal lagoon projects could provide billions of pounds to Northern Powerhouse manufacturers.

The summit was organised to coincide with a visit to the engineering giant by Charles Hendry, the former Energy Minister charged with evaluating the viability of British-made tidal power platforms for governmental review, as part of the UK's future energy provision.

The power from tidal lagoons, which generate electricity from tides in specific coastal bays such as Swansea Bay, are worth 41 billion pounds for the domestic manufacture and construction of lagoon turbines and generators with much of this suited to the skills of Northern engineering companies.

Charles Hendry, who heard representations from dozens of engineering business leaders during his visit to the Brightside Lane site, said: “The key considerations around the viability of tidal lagoons are whether they can play a role in the mix of energy provision for the UK and if so, how can they be delivered?

“This summit is an important opportunity for me to hear representations from engineering companies and to establish how much of the supply chain can be sourced within the UK.

“We often see large infrastructure projects in the UK, which are funded by the taxpayer, being outsourced to overseas providers and if this project is to go ahead, we need to ensure that the UK can gain maximum benefit.

“Sheffield Forgemasters has shown incredible enthusiasm for this concept and it possesses a comprehensive set of specialised skills and facilities to manufacture some of the largest key components for the type of turbines required on projects like these.”

The Tidal Lagoon project, which is being driven by Tidal Lagoon Power, will see a pathfinder tidal lagoon established at Swansea Bay – which planning permission has already been granted for - ahead of the creation of much larger lagoons in Cardiff Bay, Colwyn Bay and other UK sites.

Gareth Barker, group operations director at Sheffield Forgemasters International Ltd, said: “The value of tidal lagoon energy to companies like ours is vast, not just in terms of monetary value, but in relation to long-term planning, succession planning, skills development, research and development and apprenticeships and jobs.

“It is testament to the Welsh nation that they have created a superb engineering concept and provided a platform to deliver a collaborative British solution to global power deficits, which could have far-reaching benefits.

“Potentially, a UK-lead project of this kind could provide decades of work for this business and many other manufacturers in this country and the overseas market could be huge.”

The summit was attended by numerous engineering specialists, including Tata Steel, ARUP, Davy Markham, Francis Brown, The Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, BEL Engineering, A&P Group, Goodwins, Tees Components, Allerton Steel and Ledwood.

Tidal lagoon has been hailed as a 'predictable energy source' and a guaranteed way of generating electricity which could provide a green energy source for up to 30% of domestic requirement in the UK.

Charles Hendry's review on the project will be completed by the end of November and if it is in favour of progressing the concept, could see orders placed with UK engineering companies by the end of 2016.

Photo caption: (left/right) Gareth Barker, group operations director at Sheffield Forgemasters International Ltd with Charles Hendry at the Sheffield Tidal Lagoon summit.

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