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Swansea Bay Lagoon

With the recent announcement that Kent based Laing O'Rourke has been given the contract to build a significant part of the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon, Swansea’s next major development should be in safe hands for the contracting of some of the construction of the lagoon. Laing O'Rourke have a solid reputation as a construction contractor, as an extremely experienced company in the field they have taken part in the construction of the London 2012 games projects and Heathrow Terminal 5 just to name a few previous contracts. 

What is Swansea Bay Lagoon?

The lagoon is going to be the World’s first tidal lagoon power plant, providing clean, renewable energy in the form of tidal power. The main problem the lagoon faced, and still faces, is the large costs it could potentially run due to the cost of construction as well as further down the line, the potential miss calculations of costs for maintenance etc (being the World's first, there are no case studies to base costs on). The Citizens Advice Bureau were one of the main bodies to heavily criticise the prices of energy put forward and charges that would be incurred on tax payers but of late, the Government has provided good budgets for the lagoon itself, allowing the development to go ahead.

The lagoon works by turbines being installed within the walls of the lagoons, using the waves coming through the turbines to produce large amounts of energy through tidal power, this works in theory much like wind turbines but on an extremely large scale. The developers of the project have said the lagoon could provide up to 500GWH per year for over 100 years, a huge amount of energy for a renewable development. This clean energy, although expensive, is potentially a step forward in terms of renewable energy for not only the Swansea but the rest of the UK, and may be the future of renewable energy not only for Swansea, but for other places in the UK and countries throughout Europe and the rest of the World. 

The Advantages for Swansea

Laing O'Rourke have, firstly, stated they will use local materials and produce for the construction of the lagoon, potentially spending large amounts of money within the local community on local companies to provide the materials required for the construction of the lagoon. 

Tourism may also see a slight increase in Swansea, being the World’s first lagoon power plant there is a significant amount of experts in the renewable energy industry who may have an interest in travelling to Swansea to see and analyse the lagoon. As well as the interest in the renewable side of the project, being able to walk or cycle along a lagoon may be a tourism feature that could entice people from different areas of the UK to visit Swansea to be able to do something they would not be able to do in other places.

Although the previous two are potential advantages, the definite major advantage of the tidal lagoon is going to be the increase in construction jobs in the area. At the peak Laing O'Rourke alone will require 5-600 construction workers at one time, taking into account the whole of the lagoon construction, it has been stated that up to 1800 jobs could be created for the project. Even after construction, the maintenance after the lagoon is finished will require workers or local companies to take over the maintenance, this means the lagoon will be bringing a large amount of money into the area for businesses and construction workers alike.

Being given an approximate finish date of 2018, this project will be getting underway soon and, although expensive, will be an extremely interesting development to follow purely from a local interest perspective. Read more about the specifics of the project and Laing O'Rourke by checking out one of Wales online’s articles here

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