Hard rocks and basking sharks kill off plans for £5.4bn offshore wind farm

 

Government plans to become a global wind powerhouse were dealt a further blow today, when a giant £5.4bn project off the west coast of Scotland was scrapped, because the sea bed was too hard, the waves were too strong  – and because it would disturb thousands of basking sharks.

In the week after George Osborne sought to boost investment in offshore wind power in his Autumn statement by increasing its subsidy, Scottish Power became the second big-six energy provider to scrap a major project in less than a month.

Scottish Power pulled the plug on the Argyll Array Offshore Windfarm project, to the west of the Island of Tiree, which would have provided enough power for 1m homes, after five years in the planning. It blamed a much-harder than expected sea bed made of volcanic rock, which would have involved an additional and hugely costly drilling programme, and the discovery that the surrounding sea was much wilder than previously thought.

The company made its decision following a series of indepth environmental and technical studies, which threw up an additional new hurdle – it turns out that the basking sharks that had occasionally been spotted off the coast actually numbered in their thousands and would need to be built around.

Jonathan Cole, head of offshore wind at Scottish Power, said that the site had great potential in the longer term, but that the technology to exploit the blustery conditions could be ten to fifteen years away.

“We believe it is possible to develop the Argyll Array site, it has some of the best wind conditions of any offshore zone in the UK.”

“However, 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,” he added.

The windfarm would have provided enough power to supply up to 1m homes. It would involved the construction of up to 300 turbines, each one up to 662 feet tall.

The decision scrap the project came just three days after the government’s own energy and climate change advisor, the Committee on Climate Change, urged the coalition to clarify its position on renewable energy after making a series of moves many believe are deterring investors from backing renewable power projects. These include scrapping a target to green Britain’s electricity supply by 2030 and reviewing the country’s previously-agreed carbon emissions targets for the 2020s, in the spring.

Lord Debden, chairman of the CCC, said this week: "The Government should confirm the [2020s carbon targets] as a matter of urgency. This would remove the current uncertainty and poor investment climate. It would provide a boost to the wide range of investors who stand ready to invest in low-carbon technologies."

Scottish Power insisted yesterday that its decision to scrap the Argyll project had nothing to do with government policy and was purely “site specific” – an explanation experts said sounded plausible. The company said it was progressing with another, larger, offshore windfarm in East Anglia, where the seabed was much softer and the waves gentler.

Will Straw, associate director of the think tank IPPR, said: “Scottish Power’s explanation does sound reasonable. But it’s still another set back for an industry that has really been feeling the squeeze from a lack of clarity by government. And it’s bad timing – only last week George Osborne announced increased support for offshore wind.”

That increase, saw the guaranteed price that offshore windfarms will receive for the electricity they generate increase from £135 per megawatt hour, to £140, for 2018.

Last month, German-owned RWE npower said it was pulling out of the £4bn Atlantic Array project in the off the North Devon coast because it was so technically difficult that the economics did not stack up.

These cancelled projects are a blow for the Government, which is looking to bigger windfarms in deeper waters to help provide low-carbon power. It wants to generate 15pc of energy from renewable sources by 2020.

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
life
News
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reportedly married in secret on Saturday
peopleSpokesperson for couple confirms they tied the knot on Saturday after almost a decade together
Life and Style
Chen Mao recovers in BK Hospital, Seoul
health
News
Joan Rivers has reportedly been hospitalised after she stopped breathing during surgery
people81-year-old 'stopped breathing' during vocal chord surgery
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Diana from the Great British Bake Off 2014
tvProducers confirm contestant left because of illness
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live
tv
Life and Style
fashion

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Client-Side web developer (JQuery, Javascript, UI, JMX, FIX)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Client-Side web developer (JQuery, Javascript, U...

Structured Finance

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - An excellent new instruction w...

SQL Server Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL Server Developer SQL, PHP, C#, Real Time,...

C#.NET Developer

£600 per day: Harrington Starr: C#.NET Developer C#, Win Forms, WPF, WCF, MVVM...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone