A £4bn off-shore wind farm project has been axed by German ‘big six’ energy company RWE npower dealing an untimely blow to Britian’s renewable energy plans. The Atlantic Array of off-shore turbines was set to create thousands of jobs in the business electricity sector and provide power to around 1 million homes.
RWE npower has said the economics of the project aren’t what they were made to be when the plan was initially drawn up – criticism that seems particularly pertinent given the German company’s claim that the Coalition Government treats environmental subsidies as a “political football”.
The shelving of the Atlantic Array will be seen as a major blow for the Government’s hopes of reaching 15% renewable energy by 2020. The long-term plan relies on larger wind-farms in deeper, off shore waters to help the UK build a baseline for renewable commercial electricity over the next decade.
Base in the Bristol Channel, the Atlantic Array project was one of several ‘Round 3’ wind farms with others set to be housed in the waters off Dogger Bank, Hornsea and East Anglia. Currently the other Round 3 projects remain safe in their funding, but the recent butting of heads over the commercial energy giants and the UK’s government over reduced subsidies and increased prices combined with the Atlantic Array cancellation will likely cast fresh doubt in the industry.
The Renewable Energy Association (REA) has called for more consistency in the message sent by the government to help instil confidence amongst investors and reduce the chances of further projects not ‘stacking up’ to company’s economic expectations.
“We need assurances from George Osborne in the autumn statement about where we stand, Nick Clegg says one thing about the green levies, Michael Fallon [the energy minister] another.”
At 240 turbines, the Atlantic Array would have been a titanic undertaking for RWE nPower, who insist that the cancellation of this project should not cast doubt as to their commitment to other British wind farm projects.
“This is not a decision we have taken lightly; however, given the technological challenges and market conditions, now is not the right time for RWE to continue to progress with this project,” said Paul Cowling, director of offshore wind at RWE Innogy.