Ioan Jenkins is a Welshman with more than 15 years experience working in the mining industry. Four years ago he joined a team working on building the world’s first tidal lagoon power plant in Swansea Bay, which has the second largest tidal range – or distance between low and high tide – in the world. Ioan believes tidal power can revitalise Welsh communities destroyed by the collapse of mining and industry in the last 50 years using a brand new form of clean power. Read more at The Times.
What do you do?
I’m the development director for Tidal Lagoon Power. That means that I lead on the development of tidal lagoons within Wales. I’m based in Swansea but as a business we’re focussing on developing a fleet of six lagoons in the UK.
— Far Nearer (@far_nearer) March 21, 2017
What’s the point of the project?
How long have you got! What we’re looking to do is to drive a change in the UK’s energy mix, but ultimately it’s about affecting positively the way as a society globally we deliver energy production.
Swansea Bay is the first of it’s kind in the world and will unlock certainly opportunities within the UK but also globally. It’s the first of it’s kind in the world.
How did you get involved?
The business is five this year, I joined Mark Shorrock, chief executive, when there were 12 in the team, four years ago.
I bought into Mark’s vision immediately as I could see how it would contribute to wider society. I’m a Welshman, I led on the mining industry in open caste sites for something like 15, 17 years and I’ve seen the decline of many industries in Wales over the last 20 years. I saw this as a great opportunity for Wales to once again become a world leader in energy generation.
We can deliver between 6 and 10% of the UK’s energy requirements. The one in Swansea can generate the equivalent of 90% of Wales’s energy use. The one in Cardiff that we regard as a full-scale lagoon can deliver more that 100% of Wales’s domestic energy use. We know it’s big scale and we know it’s predictable, as long as the tides go in and out. We’re developing these to have a minimum lifespan of 120 years. It’s a long term asset.
In terms of other personal drivers. Health and wellbeing are important to me. People can use the lagoon to run around it cycle, swim, sail, it will become a great infrastructure asset for those living in Swansea Bay and even beyond. I’m passionate about jobs. Swansea will deliver something like 2,500 direct jobs, Cardiff is 11,000 direct jobs and for every one direct job there are four indirect jobs. It’s an opportunity for the UK to become an industrial leader.
And it’s something to be proud of, restoring the confidence and self-esteem within many communities in Wales and the UK.
I saw this as a great opportunity for Wales to once again become a world leader in energy generation.
What’s been your proudest moment?
I’m extremely proud to be a part of the team delivering this exciting opportunity not only for the Wales and globally.
But my proudest moment was that I was heavily involved in the Charles Henry report.
In February of last year the Government appointed Charles Hendry to deliver an independent review on lagoons for the Government. Charles started in May last year, and submitted it in January. He was ex-Conservative energy minister, very senior politician, very highly regarded in many fields, particularly energy, so he was the ideal candidate for the task. But reading the report, which was not only collated and presented professionally, I think it reflected Charles’s many meetings with stakeholders. It reflected the emotions of tens and thousands of people who want us to build this lagoon in Swansea.
Charles Hendry made it quite clear that Swansea Bay it was a no regrets decision and the Government should make that decision now.
What’s been the most difficult moment?
As a business we plough ahead but one of the bigger challenges is managing expectation and the enthusiasm of communities. That’s a nice challenge to have. We have so many people wanting it to happen and wanting it to happen now, but it’s a positive expectation.
The Charles Hendry report was in January, it’s now March. The Government said they need some time to reflect. We see no reason why Government can’t make a decision and it would be interesting to know why they can’t make that decision now.
We don’t have any idea when the decision will be made but after the report we’re closer to a positive decision than we’ve ever been. But ultimately all these other opportunities won’t go ahead unless we get the go-ahead for Swansea. Swansea unlocks the industry.
This is a major infrastructure project that is ready to go live now. We’re comfortable in the fact that as a private organisation we can raise £1.3 billion so in that effect Brexit doesn’t apply in that we don’t need any public cash, we’re ready to go. This is something major at the feet of Government waiting for the right decision.
In terms of building and developing, all of that is privately funded, so in that context, we don’t need public money, or EU money, so we’re Brexit proof.
What keeps you going when that’s get hard?
All of this is personal. I’ve seen the demise of many communities in Wales, this will unquestionably bring back the confidence and the health and wellbeing within these communities and across the UK. When I travel across the UK, Yorkshire, the North East, I see similar to what I see in Wales.
I’m a father of four, I’m concerned about climate change. This will have a positive net impact on the environment, not only within Swansea Bay but also as the industry develops nationally and globally. I was with the chief executive last night at a dinner and I said Mark what we’re doing isn’t transformational, it’s historical because I think people will look back in many years and see this as a historical moment that so many people can share and be a part of.
In reality in terms of energy and security, every day that goes by becomes more important. By Tidal Lagoons helping in terms of growing home grown indigenous energy for the next 120 years or so, that’s got to be a good thing. As an island nation we should maximise the gifts that we’ve been given in terms the environment. It’s a future for future generations as well.
What does community mean to you?
Community is the backbone of our society. This is an opportunity to provide confidence and self esteem and bring back the pride into those communities.
What would you say to someone trying to do a similar thing?
There are a number of companies trying to do a similar thing, which is fantastic! If we have inspired other companies to do a similiar thing then that’s great. Why is that great? Because as long as they have the same values, in terms of the UK benefitting economically then that is more sustained work. More of our energy will come from a clean source. I know we’re inspiring Tidal Stream and Wales. So if it helps them and motivates them where we can deliver more home grown sustainable energy that’s great.