Illustrations have been released of the ambitious Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon project .
New ambitious plans for the floating city off the Swansea coast were revealed almost two weeks ago.
The latest artistic designs show the potential to create living spaces at sea similar to the Palm Island in Dubai.
The world class innovator who’s helped design and deliver some of the planet’s most revered engineering projects is behind the plans.
Malcolm Copson, who founded and co-runs a Hong Kong-based company called MOI Imagineering, says the inclusion of floating modular housing makes the revised tidal lagoon scheme commercially viable.
Projects Mr Copson has been closely involved with over the years include Dubai’s Atlantis the Palm resort and the trains running on Hong Kong’s rapid transit railway network.
Now he’s backing plans for a major, integrated renewable energy project in Swansea Bay.
Mr Copson, who’s been advising the tidal lagoon taskforce set up by the Swansea Bay City Region, also says the inclusion of floating, permanently moored housing as part of the development will help Swansea steal a march on the rest of the world.
His support coincides with the publication of preliminary conceptual images that show how the Dragon Energy Island could potentially look.
Mr Copson’s backing also follows on from an independent report which found plans for a Dragon Energy Island in Swansea Bay to be financially viable.
Written by global sourcing company Holistic Capital, the report says there’s potential to make savings of up to 30% on the capital costs of the re-imagined project when compared with previous tidal lagoon proposals.
A specialist project adviser to several national governments, Mr Copson is the co-inventor of an innovative braking system now used by trains throughout the world.
He’s also been a driving force behind many other projects of global significance, including Tokyo’s Sanrio Puroland theme park and a proposed magma geothermal power plant in Iceland.
Mr Copson said: “There are already several examples of floating, modular home developments across the planet – including Holland, which is below sea level and has a similar climate to Swansea Bay. This is the way the world is going.
“But many plans for similar developments – in cities like New Orleans in the USA, for example – are still on the drawing board, so Swansea has a chance to lead the world and develop an export industry of global significance that will create thousands of jobs for local people. As well as the development of tidal lagoon turbine technology, this could include the construction of specialist floating, modular housing and other structures on a mass scale.
“Wales has an acute housing shortage, with Swansea needing about 17,000 new homes a year. Conventionally, this would require some to be constructed on quality environmental or greenfield sites in future, but that doesn’t have to be the case because there’s 11.5 million square metres of development space within the footprint of the Dragon Energy Island proposals.
“The inclusion of floating, modular housing makes the re-imagined project commercially viable, while also giving people an alternative lifestyle choice that many will find appealing.
“This kind of housing works in others parts of Northern Europe, so why wouldn’t it work in Swansea Bay? We’re talking about housing which floats on enormous platforms, protected by a sea wall, with a rise and fall of between seven and nine metres maximum a day that residents wouldn’t even notice because of the slow rate of rise and fall, combined with the mass of the development.
“The science and engineering is there. The facts show it will work, with innovative solutions for sewage, waste and other services also forming part of the project.”
As well as floating modular housing and giant underwater turbines generating zero-carbon power in Swansea and beyond for over a century, the integrated Dragon Energy Island could also feature an underwater data centre, a solar farm and the production of pure hydrogen and pure oxygen on site for storage or sale.
Mr Copson, who was also involved in the delivery of Disneyland Paris, said: “The Dragon Energy Island ideas captivated me because I’m always looking 20 to 40 years ahead, with a focus on the environment and sustainability. That’s why I made contact with the tidal lagoon task force to offer my help.
“There’s a brilliant team behind this idea – a task force with impressive commercial and financial expertise, and a council that can drive the project through.
“The Dragon Energy Island has so many benefits, with no real downside. The project could promote the city and act as a catalyst for further investment, while diversifying the local economy and generating spin-off opportunities for local businesses.
“If the local population embraces the vision, they can be part of something truly special that puts Swansea Bay on the world map.
“This is a signature project that would put Swansea on the global stage as a visionary city.”
Through a company he formed, Mr Copson also helped with the design and delivery of the world’s largest airport terminal at Dubai International Airport, which opened in 2008. Via the company, other Middle East projects he’s been involved with include the Burjuman Mall and office complex in Dubai, the International Financial Centre in Dubai, and the Supreme Education Centre in Doha, Qatar.
He’s also working on a futuristic Mars World Escape Resort development in the USA and a 10 square kilometre floating, semi-submerged complex in the Caribbean - part of which will be manufactured in the UK.
When asked about whether the Dragon Energy Island project could be realised, Mr Copson said: “When I first visited Dubai, it was no more than desert, but there was a vision and strong leadership there to create a city that has the biggest and best of everything. That’s now largely been achieved despite little money initially to realise the goal, with the formula having been more recently replicated in Abu Dhabi and other major cities in the Gulf region.
“Dubai has cornered the market on different thinking. They have a different mind-set there, with a focus on getting things done and uniting behind a vision. There is no reason why this can’t happen in Swansea and Wales.
“The dragon is a symbol that’s strongly associated with Wales. Incorporating this shape into the design of the overall development could present major cultural opportunities and worldwide recognition for Swansea, in the same way that The Palm Jumeirah has done in Dubai.”
Next steps for the Dragon Energy Island are now being explored, with the independent report into its feasibility due to be considered by the Swansea Bay City Region’s Joint Committee on Tuesday May 28.
Further project research and financial analysis could soon be carried out, before the search for a private sector partner potentially gets underway. Construction could start in 2021, with the Dragon Energy Island potentially operational by the end of 2026.
The Holistic Capital report followed the publication of a PIN notice to test whether companies were interested in helping to deliver the re-imagined project. Eleven companies expressed interest, including several major global corporate companies.