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RWE, one of the big six energy companies in the UK, has dealt the country a major blow as it announces the cancellation of one of the world’s largest offshore wind farms.
The political rows and policy uncertainty surrounding the UK have finally frightened away green energy investors at a major project, one which played a vital role in the government’s plans to meet renewable energy and emissions targets.
The British government had hoped that more large-scale offshore wind farms would help it meet targets of generating 15% of energy from renewable sources by 2020; by pulling the plug on the £4 billion Atlantic Array wind farm, RWE have dealt a huge blow.
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The Renewable Energy Association (REA), which pushes for more investment in low-carbon power from the government, has said that the recent political party squabbles over energy prices and green policies, have caused too much uncertainty in the industry and investors were beginning to shy away from deals.
A spokesman for the REA said that they “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.”
Just last week the Prime Minister David Cameron was quoted as saying that they must get rid of all the ‘green crap’ from energy bills, and although Downing Street claimed it did not recognise the wording, it did not deny the meaning of the statement.
RWE claim that the decision was made because technical difficulties have meant the project will now cost far more to install, and that under the current subsidy regime it no longer makes economic sense to proceed. In order to reconsider the project the government would need to raise the green energy subsidies, putting more pressure on the taxpayer via their energy bills.
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Paul Cowling, the director for offshore wind energy at RWE Innogy, stated that they remained committed to offshore wind in the UK and will continue with other projects, but that the Atlantic Array must be shelved. “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.”
Richard Sandford, the head of European offshore projects at RWE, confirmed that “this really is project-specific and not at all down to other considerations. We are still proceeding with schemes like Galloper and Triton Knoll, off the east coast of the country.”
By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com
Joao is a writer for Oilprice.com