Ecotricity founder Dale Vince has criticised the offer by the Welsh government to invest in Tidal Lagoon Power’s (TLP) proposed 320MW Swansea Bay.

Vince questioned why the Welsh government should “invest and loan significant but secret sums of money” to an “incredibly expensive” project.

Cardiff has offered to make an equity or loan investment in the project conditional on the UK government agreeing to Contract for Difference price support and the project securing necessary licenses and consents.

The investment would be worth at least £100m, it is understood.

“I’m not sure how one public body or arm of government offering to chip in to help another one afford this scheme can do anything to change the fundamental outlook. In terms of cost to the public that’s a zero sum game, the cost is the same - far higher than it needs to be,” said Vince.

“The PR machine bemoans this one year delay and government dithering but faced with this incredibly big ask for a sweetheart deal from a private company they are surely right to take their time, to proceed with a little caution.”

Ecotricity believes its proposed 330MW so-called offshore lagoon in the Solway Firth would cost £92 per megawatt-hour for 25 years. Vince claimed Ecotricity’s £550m project would require a CfD 75% less expensive than Swansea Bay.

It is 12 months to the day since former energy minister Charles Hendry backed a pilot project in his review of lagoons commissioned in 2016 by the UK government.

TLP chief executive Mark Shorrock said: “The Hendry Review couldn’t have been clearer in its recommendations, including the timely advance of a pathfinder tidal lagoon as a ‘no regrets policy’. 

“With the Welsh government’s offer to the Prime Minister there is nothing standing in the way of closing the deal for Swansea Bay tidal lagoon at the level ministers and officials have indicated they are happy with”.

Image: Dale Vince (Ecotricity)