United Kingdom

United Kingdom

Iberdrola drops 1.8GW Argyll Array

UK: Iberdrola-owned ScottishPower Renewables has said that it will not go ahead with plans to develop the 1.8GW Argyll Array offshore wind farm "in the near future".

The company pointed to technical difficulties specific to the site off Scotland's west coast as the reason behind the decision not to develop the project within the next decade.

Ground conditions at the site, particularly the presence of hard rock, along with "challenging wave conditions", would make construction too difficult with current technology, the developer said.

ScottishPower also pointed to the presence of basking sharks — which are protected under the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act — as a factor in the decision to halt the project.

Last month RWE scrapped plans for the 1.2GW Atlantic Array, listing similar concerns over the seabed conditions and wave height.

Experts have also pointed to market conditions in the UK, and uncertainty over the upcoming electricity market reforms as a likely factor in the decision not to go ahead with the project.

This scrapping of a second major UK offshore project will set alarm bells ringing among those involved in the industry.

The Iberdrola subsidiary has been working on the Argyll Array project since 2009. It said that a variety of technical and environmental studies have been completed and that a review over the last 12 months resulted in the decision not to progress at this time.

In 2012, the developer announced that it was considering downsizing the project due to environmental concerns.

Scottish Power was keen to press that is still believes that the project is viable, but that offshore technology must develop before the project can go ahead "in the long term", suggesting a 10- to 15- year timescale.

Head of offshore wind for Scottish Power, Jonathan Cole, said: "We believe it is possible to develop the Argyll Array site, it 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."

Scottish Power said that the decision was made in conjunction with the Crown Estate, the UK’s seabed landlord.

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