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Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon picks Chinese contractor as project seeks overseas investment

Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon has named a Chinese bidder for a £300m marine works contract on the new power plant.

It is hoped that the selection of China Harbour Engineering Company for the work will help to bring in Chinese investment for the £1bn project on the Welsh coast.

CHEC, one of the world’s largest marine engineering contractors and investors, has set up a UK subsidiary and has committed to an investment programme in UK infrastructure, with further tidal lagoon projects already targeted.

However, CHEC said it had not directly invested in the project.

As part of the deal, CHEC has agreed with developer Tidal Lagoon Power to develop similar projects in Asia, opening the possibility of an export market for UK expertise.

On the marine works project, around half of the contract value will be spent on British workforce and the supply chain.

China is taking a leadership position in tackling the threat of climate change

Mark Shorrock, CEO Tidal Lagoon Power

Tidal Lagoon Power chief executive Mark Shorrock said: “I have worked in China, speak Chinese and have huge esteem for China’s delivery capability and ability to deliver projects to time and budget. 

“Having encouraged CHEC to bid this job and invest in Western European infrastructure projects by creating a British base, I was delighted, following an intensive competition, when my engineering colleagues recommended CHEC for our seminal Swansea Bay project.

“Furthermore, I think China is taking a leadership position in tackling the threat of climate change and so a state-owned enterprise makes a good partner when you wish to deploy multiple tidal lagoons quickly and cost effectively.

“Beginning in Swansea Bay, we aim to foster a new economic opportunity for collaboration in civil engineering between our two companies and nations.

“Given the lead by our respective governments, we are aiming to take on the greening of our energy economy in European and Asian locations that have eight or more metres of tidal range and are interested in low impact, secure and local sources of energy.”

China Harbour Engineering Company president and chief executive Lin Yi Chong said: “CHEC has taken the strategic decision to enter the UK infrastructure investment and construction market, and we see the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon, a pioneering scheme that could bring the world a new energy option, as the cornerstone project in our business development strategy in the UK and wider Europe.

“We have not invested directly into the Swansea Bay project but we made a proposal to do so and will seek opportunities to invest in similar projects in the UK and Europe. 

“We will seek to grow our UK presence through significant investment into a subsidiary business and through a programme of UK infrastructure investment and construction.”

Earlier this week, Welsh firm Alun Griffiths won a £25m civils contract on the project, while last month Laing O’Rourke won a £200m civils and construction package.

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