Plans to build a 250MW tidal power plant off the coast of South Wales are set to take a major step forward as three new companies sign up to the project.

Engineering majors Costain Infrastructure, W S Atkins, and Van Oord have reached agreements to partner with Tidal Lagoon Power Limited (TLP) to design, build and deliver what would be the the world’s first purpose built tidal lagoon.

It is claimed the proposed 240MW power plant, located in Swansea Bay and representing an investment of £650m, will produce baseload electricity for up to 16 hours each day, using ebb and flood tides, and will save over 200 000 tonnes of CO2 per year for its design life of over 100 years.

TGP plans immediately to launch an official consultation for the renewable energy project. The developers hope to have the scheme up and running by 2017, if planning approval is granted.

Costain, Atkins and Van Oord now join Alstom, which agreed with TGP earlier this year to design and build the generating units for a series of tidal lagoons.

Darren James, managing director of Costain Infrastructure, noted that "This project gives Wales a significant opportunity to take the lead in the tidal industry for the UK and we look forward to working with the team to develop what will hopefully be a network of lagoons around the UK coastline."

In a statement Ton Fijen, TLP technical director said, ‘We know that there is an available 10 000 MW of potential sites in the UK alone that are suitable for tidal lagoon development.

"The Swansea project will hopefully be the first in a network of lagoons around the UK coastline, driving a critical change in our energy mix with low cost, low carbon electricity sources that are sustainable long-term."

A recent report by the UK’s seabed landlord The Crown Estate found that tidal range lagoon schemes in the UK could in theory produce 25 TWh/year, drawing on 14 GW of capacity.

However, critics of marine energy technologies warn that they remain at an early stage of development and are significantly more costly than several other forms of renewable energy.