A new firm is set to enter the race to bring tidal lagoon power to the UK, claiming it could generate cheaper electricity than the proposed Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon project.
Ecotricity is drawing up plans to build tidal barrages on the west coast of the UK and has said its projects could achieve a lower strike price than its Welsh rival.
The Bristol-based firm, which last year had a turnover of £70m, said it was looking at a strike price of around £90/MWh over a 30-year period and would be releasing detailed plans for its plants in the summer.
Ecotricity founder Dale Vince said: “The government has been agonising for a while about what level of support to give to the first tidal project in Britain.
“They’re clearly interested in the technology, which is a good thing, but they’ve been put off by the price tag of £168/MWh proposed by Swansea Bay – that’s understandable.”
The firm said it had now written to the the Department of Energy and Climate Change informing it of its intention to rival the Swansea bid.
The negotiations over Swansea Bay are understood to have stalled over what the government felt was an unaffordable strike price, originally set at around £160/MWh over 35 years.
However, it has since emerged that talks are now focused on a new price closer to £92.50/MWh over 90 years.
Earlier this month, Tidal Lagoon Power chief executive Mark Shorrock said negotiations over a strike price could be concluded within the next six weeks, with construction starting on the project next year.
The comments from Mr Shorrock came after the government announced that it would be launching a review looking into how tidal lagoons could contribute to the future of the UK’s energy mix in the most cost-effective way.
Ecotricity, which powers more than 40,000 homes across the UK, said it had called on the department to look more closely at the cost of tidal energy.
Mr Vince said: “We were concerned that the government were being pushed into paying too high a price for tidal energy through the Swansea Bay scheme – that would be bad for renewable energy generally because it would reinforce the myth that green energy is expensive, and bad for tidal power specifically because it may never get off the ground.
“We’re hoping this review will lead to the government supporting tidal energy in Britain and doing it in a way that will enable competition, and through that value for money – enabling tidal mills to achieve their true potential in Britain.”
A spokeswoman for Tidal Lagoon Power said: “The emergence of a competitive marketplace for the future is a part of Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon fulfilling its role as a pathfinder.”