A thousand high-value manufacturing jobs are set to be lost in the Midlands because of the government’s continuing failure to decide whether to support tidal lagoon marine power. Two of GE’s British plants, at Rugby and at Stafford, had been designated to construct the underwater turbines and to provide the complex electrical power systems needed for the pioneering Swansea Bay tidal lagoon and similar marine energy projects around the coast of Britain. However, with the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy showing no sign of making a decision on whether to go ahead with the £1.3 billion project in south Wales, it has emerged that the American industrial giant is likely to decide that the plants have little future in the British power market and will cut 500 jobs at each. GE is one of the world’s leading industrial conglomerates, with 295,000 employees, and is one of Britain’s biggest inward investors, employing 18,000 people across a range of industries, most notably producing equipment for conventional power stations. The Swansea Bay tidal lagoon would be the first marine energy project in the world, using a breakwater with multiple seven metre diameter turbines to harness the power of Atlantic tides. It would produce up to 320 megawatts of electricity, powering 150,000 homes. If the technology proved to be successful, it could be replicated in larger projects around Britain’s western shores, notably along the Welsh coast at Cardiff, Newport and at Colwyn Bay in north Wales. Supporters say that not only would it help to plug Britain’s energy gap, but it would make the nation a world leader in tidal power, potentially creating thousands of manufacturing jobs. A year ago a government-commissioned report from Charles Hendry, the former Conservative energy minister, supported Swansea Bay, but Greg Clark, the business, energy and industrial secretary, has declined to back the project or even say when he might make a ruling.
Times 27th Dec 2017 read more »