United Kingdom

United Kingdom

Centrica calls for halt to UK offshore development

UK: Centrica, a utility with a holding in a major offshore project in development, has called for the UK to hold back on building any more offshore wind farms in the short term.

The company operates the Lynn and Inner Dowsing project
The company operates the Lynn and Inner Dowsing project

The company argues that the development of offshore projects is too expensive a way to make energy less carbon intensive, calling instead for more support for nuclear and carbon capture and storage.

"Offshore wind has the potential to be high regret because it is an expensive option that may not be needed until the mid-2020s, or at all if carbon capture and storage technologies become economically viable," the company said in a report on the future of the UK energy market.

While it said that the cutbacks should not "undermine the development of the supply chain", the company did not specifiy whether projects already in the pipeline should be scrapped, and was unable to immediately comment when contacted by Windpower Monthly.

Centrica owns stakes in a 4.2GW block of projects in the UK's round three offshore leases, but has indicated previously that it is looking to cut its investment in wind.

In partnership with Dong Energy, Centrica is developing the 2.2GW Rhiannon project as the first phase of the 4.2GW Celtic Array block in the UK Irish Sea. The company also held the rights to develop the 580MW Race Bank project, but sold it to Dong in December 2013.

It also currently operates the 194MW Lynn and Inner Dowsing and 270MW Lincs projects in the North Sea. Indeed it was involved in the early stages of offshore wind development, building the 90MW Barrow project with Dong, which came online in 2006.

In its report, the company said that only in "technology pessimist" and "high gas/oil prices" scenarios do levels of offshore wind approach that of policy forecast. In the case of technology pessimism, carbon capture and storage would need to have failed for offshorewind to become a cost effective solution.

Even in these scenarios, major construction of offshore wind should not begin until 2025, the company said.

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