Scottish Power pulls plug on massive Argyll wind farm after being caught ‘between a rock and a hard shark’

scottishpower-renewablesScottish Power Renewables (SPR) – part of the Spanish utility giant Iberdrola group – has dropped its massive  Argyllshire offshore wind farm plan because geological and environmental obstacles were too hard to overcome – ie the seabed rocks were ‘too hard’ and ‘too many’ basking sharks would have been adversely affected by its plans.

The company said that “the Argyll Array wind farm may be viable to reconsider as offshore wind technology develops in the longer term, but estimates that will not be within the next decade.”

Scottish Power has been working on the Argyll Array project for four years and a variety of detailed technical and environmental studies have been completed as part of their initial development work. These studies have been thoroughly reviewed over the last 12 months in order to evaluate the viability of the project and on the basis of these findings, a decision not to progress the project, has been taken by both Scottish Power Renewables and the Crown Estate, which owns and manages the British sea-bed

Jonathan Cole, Head of Offshore Wind at Scottish Power Renewables, said: “We believe it is possible to develop the Argyll Array site, which has the some of the best wind conditions of any offshore zone in the UK.

However, it is our view that the Argyll Array project is not financially viable in the short term.

“As cost reductions continue to filter through the offshore wind industry, and as construction techniques and turbine technology continues to improve, we believe that the Argyll Array could become a viable project in the long term.

 

“The main issues affecting the progression of the project are the ground conditions in the site, particularly the presence of hard rock, coupled with challenging wave conditions which could impact construction. Beyond this, there is a significant presence of basking sharks, which environmental groups continue to study to get a greater understanding of their movements in the area.

“The rate of progress in development of foundation and installation technology has been slower than anticipated. The current outlook for offshore wind deployment in the UK suggests this will not significantly improve in the short term. This supports the view that it could take 10-15 years for the required technology improvements to be available for this project.

“The Crown Estate agrees with our findings and development work will cease on the project with immediate effect. This will give Scottish Power Renewables the opportunity to fully construct the West of Duddon Sands project with DONG Energy, and continue development work on the East Anglia Zone with Vattenfall.”

Ronnie Quinn, Manager, Crown Estate Scottish Energy & Infrastructure team, said: “While there is an excellent wind resource at the Argyll Array site, both organisations agree that the project should not proceed at this point in time.  Developers have to take a wide range of factors into account when preparing to apply for planning consent – this decision by The Crown Estate and SPR follows a very thorough assessment of all those factors. We look forward to continuing to work with Scottish Power Renewables on other sites and programmes.”

Maf Smith, a former chief executive of Scottish Renewables, the industry’s trade association, commented: “The fact that no all wind farm plans go ahead is a natural part of the development process. Some projects encounter physical or financial challenges which mean they are not viable for the time being.”

  • ScottishPower Renewables meanwhile continues to demonstrate commitment to offshore wind in the UK, with the 389MW West of Duddon Sands project currently under construction in the Irish Sea with DONG Energy. An application for consent was also submitted in 2012 with Vattenfall – the state-owned Swedish utility organisation – for the East Anglia ONE offshore windfarm, which could have a capacity of up to 1200MW.

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