German electric utility company RWE has announced that they are scrapping plans to build the £4 billion Atlantic Array offshore wind farm in the Bristol Channel Zone. The project would have resulted in one of the world’s largest offshore wind farms, with a planned 1.2 GW, but RWE has cited technical challenges and financial challenges as the reasons behind their decision to cut their losses and cancel their plans.
“In comparison with other opportunities in the UK offshore wind portfolio, and in light of the significant technical challenges specific to the zone, identified from intensive research, at the current time, it is not viable for RWE to continue with development in the Bristol Channel Zone,” RWE explained in their press release.
“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,” said Paul Cowling, Director of Offshore Wind at RWE Innogy. “We will continue to focus on the other less technically challenging offshore projects within our extensive offshore pipeline of up to 5.2GW. Offshore wind remains one of the strategic objectives for RWE and the UK has a major role to play within our portfolio. We are looking forward to the completion of Gwynt-Y-Mor next year. At 576 MW this will become the second largest operating offshore wind farm in the world.”
RWE was awarded the Bristol Channel Zone in January of 2010, under The Crown Estate’s Round 3 offshore wind farm development. Located approximately 18 kilometres off the South Wales coast and 14 kilometres off the North Devon coast of England, the Bristol Channel Zone is one of the highest renewable electricity generating locations in the UK.
“Now that the industry has been developing projects for a number of years, there is a much deeper understanding of the characteristics of successful projects and we will see further attrition in the time to come,” said Huub den Rooijen, Head of Offshore Wind, Speaking on behalf of The Crown Estate. “Paradoxically, this is a positive development because it provides greater clarity to key stakeholders such as supply chain and consenting bodies, and brings greater focus to the investment opportunities.”
Paul Cowling added: “We are very grateful for the support we have received from the many interested parties involved in helping us to develop the Atlantic Array project, however the commercial reality means that in the current market conditions, overcoming the technical challenges within The Bristol Channel Zone would be uneconomic for RWE at this time.”
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