The UK renewables sector remains upbeat about the prospects for offshore wind energy despite shock news that Phase 2 of the London Array project, the world's biggest, is being shelved, and plans for the giant Dogger Bank development are being scaled back by 20%.
The news comes just months after Scottish Power pulled out of its planned Argyll Array development off the west coast of Scotland, also because of local wildlife and technical challenges, and Germany's RWE cancelled its planned £4Bn Atlantic Array citing technical challenges.
Developer Forewind also announced that the capacity of its Dogger Bank development is being scaled back from a planned 9,000MW to 7,200MW. The company says it will focus on projects with the best financial outlook.
London Array joint developers Dong Energy, EON and Masdar, said they were cancelling the planned expansion and as a result the recruitment of technical staff because of technical difficulties and the three years delay that assessing the impact of the expansion on local birdlife would cause. London Array General Manager Mike O'Hare said other reasons for the cancellation included a more difficult and longer route for cables to take power to the shore than Phase 1. Dong Energy, which has a 50% share of London Array, said it remained committed to offshore wind in the UK.
The field originally had consent for a wind farm of 1000MW capacity, with Phase 1 already fully operational and capable of generating 630MW from 175 turbines in the outer Thames Estuary. The original Phase 2 plan was to increase capacity by 370MW but this had been scaled back to 240MW due to site constraints and was expected to be scaled back further to 200MW.
RenewableUK's Director of Offshore Renewables, Nick Medic, said: “The overall project pipeline for UK offshore wind is still healthy, although obviously it's disappointing when projects don't go ahead or are scaled back. We're maintaining our global lead, with more capacity installed in UK waters than the rest of the world put together.
“We have 22 offshore wind farms up and running, 5 under construction, 7 with planning consent and 11 awaiting approval. We've already installed 3,653 megawatts (MW) of capacity - enough to power more than two and a half million homes. We have a further 16,500MW in the pipeline - that's four and a half times as much capacity as we have now.
“What we're seeing now is a leaner, fitter, trimmer offshore wind sector with more streamlined projects. The overall capacity of Dogger Bank has only been reduced by 20% (from 9 gigawatts to 7.2GW), and London Array by 24%(as Phase 2 to would have added close to 200MW).”
Image coursesy of London Array