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Blue Eden: £1.7bn third proposal for a Swansea tidal lagoon announced

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A £1.7bn renewable energy proposal for Swansea includes a newly-designed tidal lagoon, featuring state-of-the-art underwater turbines generating 320 megawatts of renewable energy from the 9.5km structure. 

The proposal by an international consortium is funded entirely by private finance.

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The lagoon is part of the larger proposed Blue Eden project that’s being led by Bridgend-based DST Innovations and a number of business partners, with support from Swansea Council and Associated British Ports.

Made possible by funding from the private sector, the innovative and economy-boosting Blue Eden will be delivered in three phases over 12 years. The project also includes:

  • A 60,000 square metre manufacturing plant to make high-tech batteries for renewable energy storage
  • A battery facility that will store the renewable energy produced at Blue Eden and power the site. If constructed now, it would be the world’s largest facility of its kind
  • A 72,000 square metre floating solar array anchored in the Queen’s dock area, helping offset CO2 emissions by an estimated two million kilogrammes a year. This would be the UK’s largest facility of its kind, with potential for expansion
  • A 94,000 square metre data centre storing, processing and providing network capabilities for the critical services needed in modern day operations. Entirely powered by an uninterruptable renewable energy power supply, this would be the UK’s first centre of its kind 
  • An oceanic and climate change research centre that will become a hub for global excellence and innovation
  • Floating dome structures that will become cultural and scientific centres to be enjoyed by all
  • Residential waterfront homes for 5,000 people 
  • Approximately 150 floating, highly energy-efficient eco-homes anchored in the water

Blue Eden will be sited along an extensive area of land and water, to the south of the Prince of Wales Dock in the SA1 area of Swansea.

All the project’s buildings and facilities, including the eco-homes, will be situated alongside the lagoon and will utilise and enhance the existing land in the area.

Blue Eden will create over 2,500 permanent jobs and support a further 16,000 jobs across Wales and the UK, while creating additional jobs during its construction.

Renewable energy produced on site will power the entire Blue Eden development, including businesses and a mixed development of affordable housing, assisted living areas and luxury apartments. Due to the innovation on-site, each home will have up to 20 years’ renewable energy and heat provision included with the sale of the properties.

The announcement comes as world leaders prepare to gather in Glasgow later this week for the COP26 summit to tackle climate change.

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Tony Miles, Co-founder and Chief Executive of DST Innovations, said: “Blue Eden is an opportunity to create a template for the world to follow – utilising renewable energy and maximising new technologies and thinking to develop not only a place to live and work, but also to thrive.”

DST’s proposed battery manufacturing facility

The project has been developed following discussions based on a vision put forward by a regional task force led by Swansea Council.

Cllr Rob Stewart, Swansea Council Leader, said: “We are aware now more than ever of the need to develop renewable energy supplies to provide sustainable and affordable electricity to families and businesses.

“Blue Eden will put Swansea and Wales at the cutting-edge of global renewable energy innovation, helping create thousands of well-paid jobs, significantly cut our carbon footprint and further raise Swansea’s profile across the world as a place to invest. 

“I’m delighted that an international consortium led by a Welsh company has developed our Dragon Energy Island vision into a ground-breaking project that delivers so many benefits and builds on the council’s ambition to become a net zero city by 2050.

“This project truly is a game-changer for Swansea, its economy and renewable energy in the UK, and crucially it can be delivered without the need for government subsidies.” 

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Artists impression of the proposed Data Centre (Image: DST)

Julie James, Member of the Senedd for Swansea West, said: “It’s so exciting to see this Swansea-based project moving forward at such an important time for Wales and the world. It will bring cutting-edge innovation and research, thousands of high-quality green jobs, excellent low carbon homes and abundant renewable energy. I am delighted to see both Swansea and Wales right up at the top of global innovation and decarbonisation, as it should be.

“The project will include a tidal lagoon, featuring state-of-the-art underwater turbines generating 320 megawatts of renewable energy. Swansea has one of the highest tidal ranges in the world, and this scheme will allow us to utilise the energy it provides to support our planet for future generations in a world-leading project we can all be proud of.

“Renewable energy produced on site will power the entire development, including businesses and a mixed development of affordable housing, assisted living areas and luxury apartments.”

Floating homes such as this are also proposed (Image: Blue 21)

Andrew Harston, Director of Wales and Short Sea Ports for ABP, said: “We are engaged in discussions around the Blue Eden project which could deliver renewable energy, new homes and skilled jobs. This innovative prototype has the potential to be a first for the UK and bring Britain closer to our net zero target.

“This is an exciting project. If delivered alongside ABP’s own vision for South Wales, the Blue Eden Project could put the region at the very forefront of decarbonisation and digitalisation in Wales and at the vanguard of the energy transition journey and zero carbon living in the developed world.”

Senator Joe Manchin, Senator for West Virginia and Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said: “The pioneering work being carried out by DST and Batri in both Wales and West Virginia, USA, is a shining example of global collaboration working at its best, delivering innovative solutions that provide substantial contributions to both our war on climate change, and sustaining jobs in our communities.”

An image of the proposed tidal lagoon infrastructure (Image: DST)

In a joint statement, Henry Dixon, Chair of the Tidal Range Alliance, and Simon Hamlyn, Chief Executive of the British Hydropower Association, said: “The innovative and exciting Blue Eden project underlines the value of reliable renewable energy generation from a tidal lagoon.

“At a time when future energy security and stability is being questioned, the Tidal Range Alliance welcomes the launch of DST Innovation’s project.

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“Alongside other schemes along the west coast of the UK, tidal range power generation has the potential to supply 5% to 10% of the country’s energy needs, reliably and predictably, unlike other intermittent renewables such as wind and solar.”

This is the third proposal for a tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay. Former proposals included a ‘Dragon Energy Island’ with a Dubai-style island in the shape of a Welsh dragon.

The original Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon was kicked into the long grass in 2018 after failing to agree terms with the UK Government.

At the time, the then Business Secretary Greg Hands MP said of the original proposal: “The inescapable conclusion of an extensive analysis is, however novel and appealing the proposal that has been made is the cost that would be incurred by consumers and taxpayers would be so much higher than alternative sources of low-carbon power that it would be irresponsible to enter into a contract with the provider.” 

Subject to planning consent, Blue Eden work on site could start by early 2023.

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Energy

Older people in Swansea face misery as cost-of-living increases, warns local charity

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Older people will face the real possibility of not being able to heat their homes or even afford food, as the cost-of-living crises intensifies, warns a local Swansea charity.

Care & Repair Western Bay support thousands of older homeowners in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot and have raised the alarm as many of those they help are “extremely worried”.

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Care & Repair Western Bay Chief Officer, Emma Tweed, said: “We believe that everyone deserves to live independently for as long as possible. Yet, with the cost-of-living rising the situation is becoming desperate. Therefore, as the local elections near, we are calling on local councillors to do everything they can to ensure our older loved ones are not abandoned.”

Latest figures for the city show that it now costs up to £1,021 every year on average to heat our homes. Even before the cost-of-living crisis, 18% of our over 65’s were already in poverty. With few options to offset this increase in cost, it is older people who will struggle the most with the sudden rise in bills.

With the cost-of-living so high many will turn off their heating altogether, yet evidence shows that living in a cold home worsens health conditions associated with later life, such as Alzheimer’s and respiratory conditions.

Rising costs of materials are making repairs harder, and some households have put off repairs for several years because of Covid. The condition of a property impacts on the well-being of those who live there, with a cold and damp house likely to cause significant health issues.

For vulnerable older and disabled people, there is support available. Care & Repair Western Bay’s Caseworkers can visit older people at home and provide free advice and support on home energy saving techniques and housing improvements.

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Care & Repair Western Bay Senior Caseworker, Sandra Davies, said: “Many of my clients are extremely worried about the energy prices and the cost of living. Even my own 85-year- old father has cut right down on putting the heating on and will have an extra jacket and blanket on in the house due to the price increases. A lot of clients are also still fearful of going out due to Covid. One couple I met today have not been anywhere in the last two years and feel that their mobility and mental health have suffered.”

In Swansea and Neath Port Talbot, Care & Repair help over 6,500 older people each year, and complete over 6,000 vital repairs and adaptations so that clients can continue to live safely and independently at home.

Last year, these repairs cost nearly £1.8m. Care & Repair is able to help with the cost of works from funding received from Welsh Government, local authority, and other funds, accessed on behalf of their clients.

A major piece of advice being given by Care & Repair to older people is to make sure to claim the benefits you are entitled to.

According to the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, over £200 million of Pension Credit went unclaimed in Wales last year. Each year, Care & Repair Western Bay help hundreds of older people claim the benefits they are entitled to, raising around £1.2m extra income per year for their clients.

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If you or an older loved one needs repairs, adaptions or help with keeping your home warm, contact 01792 798599 or visit www.careandrepair.org.uk/western-bay.

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Energy

New research reveals the top ways Brits are trying to keep a lid on soaring household energy prices

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From going to bed earlier to taking quicker showers and using a slow cooker instead of an oven – GoCompare reveals the measures people are taking to try and save on their energy bills at home

New research from GoCompare Energy has found that 83% of bill payers have seen their energy costs increase since the cost of gas and electricity has gone up exponentially.

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The research, which also asked more than 2100 people how they’re trying to curb costs around the home in light of these increased costs, shows that over two-thirds (64%) of those surveyed have started turning off the lights when they leave a room, making it the top measure people are taking to save money in the home. Other tactics included going to bed earlier, using the tumble dryer less and doing laundry at night.

Of the list of options provided, the top ten ways people are trying to save on their energy costs around the home were:

1Turning off lights when they leave the room                             64%
2Turning off appliances when they’re not being used / in standby mode54%
3Not filling the kettle to the top                             45%
4Washing clothes on a lower heat setting                             39%
5Having quicker showers                             36%
6Changing light bulbs to LED bulbs28%
7No longer using the tumble dryer                             24%
8Making the house more energy efficient                             19%
9Going to bed earlier                             18%
10Using the slow cooker instead of the oven                             17%

Just 10% of those asked said that they weren’t implementing any of the energy saving measures listed in the survey.

Other ways people are looking to save on their energy costs included doing the laundry at night(16%) visiting friends and family more (8%), spending more time in the office (5%), and 5% of people say they’re getting solar panels fitted.

Gareth Kloet, of GoCompare Energy, said on the findings: “With 83% of people feeling the impact of rising energy costs, it’s no wonder that lifestyle habits around the home will have been impacted. Some of these measures will undoubtedly help to keep increased costs to a minimum but there are obviously limits to the changes that people can make.

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“With the warmer weather hopefully on its way, we are now approaching the time of year when people traditionally use less energy, and some people may be feeling like there’s a bit of breathing space before the colder weather sets in again. But it’s important to remember that these habits can only be a good thing longer term – not just when it comes to saving on your bills, but also on the environment.

“If the market does return to some sort of normality and we start to see energy costs decrease, we would absolutely recommend that people continue with some of these changes longer term. Being aware of the way that energy is consumed in the house can only be a good thing and will be important to maintain even after things have improved in the market.”

For some other tips on how to save energy, visit this guide: https://www.gocompare.com/gas-and-electricity/guide/energy-saving-tips/

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Carmarthenshire

Carmarthenshire has fifth highest energy bills in UK according to new data

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Carmarthenshire will be amongst the worst hit by soaring energy costs, as research reveals it has one of the highest energy bills in the whole of the UK.

Households in Carmarthenshire pay £958 to their energy bills every year – over £200 more than the average UK bill (£757) and over £500 more than the UK area with the cheapest bills: Tower Hamlets in London.

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The research, by insurance experts A-Plan Insurance used new ONS data to analyse the energy bills in every local authority in England and Wales, to discover which region had the highest energy bills, and would be worst affected by the 54% increase in energy bills in April.

The Isles of Scilly in Cornwall had the most expensive energy bills, coming in at an average of £1,227.

Ceredigion in Wales has the UK’s second-highest bills (£1,092), and Welsh areas such as Gwynedd (£1,016), Carmarthenshire (£958) and Powys (£953) also dominate the UK’s top ten most expensive areas for energy.

At the other end of the scale, Tower Hamlets in London enjoys the UK’s lowest energy bills, with residents paying just £423 a year towards energy – over £300 less than the UK average.

Newham in London is the UK’s second cheapest area for energy bills, with households paying £458 a year for their energy. The City of London, Hackney and Southwark also have significantly cheaper energy bills than the rest of the nation.

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A spokesperson for A-Plan Insurance commented on the findings: “Energy bills are already sky-high and with bills soaring by a predicted £600 in Spring, it is those homes which are least energy efficient which will suffer the most from rising bills, as escaping heat will mean that your heating system works harder to compensate for the lack of warmth, costing you more.

“The government is advocating heat pumps as a solution to soaring energy bills, but these will not be effective without proper floor insulation – which 65 percent of homes in the UK currently lack. While households can use some hacks to insulate their homes better, for example, buying inexpensive pipe insulation from a DIY store, unless something serious is done about the energy crisis, we will see many more households driven into poverty.

“Although the government is introducing an ‘Energy Bills Rebate’ where energy customers will have £200 knocked off their bills, this functions as more of a ‘loan’ or a ‘buy now pay later scheme’, according to Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis, who points out that families will have to pay back the loan in equal instalments of £40 a year.

“Some energy suppliers offer hardship funds, where you can get up to £750 off your energy bills if you are living in fuel poverty, so if you are struggling, it’s worth checking if your supplier offers this”

UK’s most expensive areas for energy bills  

UK area  Rank  Average annual energy bill (£) 
Isles of Scilly 1,227 
Ceredigion 1,092 
Eden 1,056 
Gwynedd 1,016 
Carmarthenshire 958 
Powys 953 
Ryedale 939 
Pendle 937 
Derbyshire Dales 936 
Richmondshire 10 933 
UK average    757 

UK’s cheapest areas for energy bills  

UK area  Rank  Average annual energy bill (£)  
Tower Hamlets 423 
Newham 458 
City of London 474 
Hackney 486 
Southwark 504 
Islington 512 
Greenwich 527 
Dartford 539 
Lewisham 555 
Brent 10 556 
UK average    757 

(Lead image: Getty)

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