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CN Briefing: Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon, Steel, Tata, Gupta, Sajid Javid

The past few weeks have not been short of plans of how to save the UK’s steel industry.

Last week’s introduction of public sector procurement guidelines and Sajid Javid’s “part nationalisation” plan are just two of the proposals to have emerged since Tata Steel rocked the industry by announcing the sale of its UK business.

Yesterday’s news of the sale of Tata’s long products division, safeguarding thousands of jobs in Scunthorpe, would have been welcomed by both the steelmakers themselves and the construction industry they supply.

But the future of many thousands more workers is still in the balance.

One potential buyer of Tata’s UK business thinks it has a solution.

Speaking to Gupta Family strategic board member Jay Hambro last week, he was clear about two things: first, that tidal energy was key to a Gupta bid; and secondly, that the technology could save the entire UK steel industry.

When Tata announced it would sell its UK arm, it cited low demand for UK steel and high energy costs as two of its main reasons.

Tidal energy, Mr Hambro argues, solves both problems.

With UK steel firms paying £340m more in carbon tax than their European counterparts, cleaner and cheaper energy is needed urgently.

Tidal would not only provide green energy, says Mr Hambro, but cheaper energy too.

The proposed Newport lagoon is expected to provide energy at two thirds the price of nuclear.

Furthermore, the construction of the six proposed tidal lagoons will be steel intensive, with the material needed for the massive turbines that create power.

Swansea Bay will require 16 turbines, Cardiff will need 90, and for the projects that follow, potentially hundreds more.

But ensuring that tidal lagoon projects go ahead isn’t only vital for the steel industry: it would be welcomed by the wider construction sector too.

With major projects like Hinkley stalling, the need for a long-term pipeline of major infrastructure projects is clear.

If the government moves quickly this could be found in a wave of tidal projects over the coming decades.

The £1bn Swansea Bay is just the tip of the iceberg - tidal power could drive the infrastructure sector for years to come.

And maybe save a dying industry in the process.

In the news

The £5bn Collaborative Delivery Framework, the biggest ever Highways Agency procurement programme, is set to close two years earlier than expected.

More issues in Edinburgh after council finds construction faults in more of its PFI schools.

Two construction bosses sent to jail after a worker death on Stockport demolition site.

Got time for more?

This week’s analysis comes from consultant Arcadis, who report on how the NHS can maximise efficiency across its estate - and what opportunities this could bring for contractors.

CN shortlisted

Construction News deputy editor Tom Fitzpatrick has been shortlisted in the Best Deputy category for this year’s BSME Rising Stars Awards.


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