A number of different changes are taking place in the renewable energy industry within the UK as the government has begun to strengthen its aims in order to provide a greater amount of support, while also bringing about a different balance within the industry. These changes have begun to show already, as one of the top players in the renewable energy market has shelved plans to develop an offshore wind farm. RWE Innogy, which is renowned for being one of the top developers of wind farms across the UK and Germany, has just announced that it is shelving the plans for the Atlantic Array project, which would have consisted of 240 turbines. The news was confirmed by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, and was relayed to, and publicly announced by the BBC.
It should be known, however, that the Atlantic Array project had not yet received the green light, as a lot of criticism had been levied upon the project; numerous environmentalists were worried that the effect it might have on the marine wildlife of the Bristol Channel might be much more damaging than initially expected. It was expected that the 220m tall turbines which were to be placed as a part of the project would have been able to produce enough electricity to power around 900,000 homes. This information was revealed by RWE Innogy after announcing its plans to shut off the project.
As revealed by the company, it stated that this was simply not the ‘right time’ to go ahead with the Atlantic Array project. The area where the project was planned to be constructed would be around 200 square km., and was located at a distance of around 16.5 km from the coast of northern Devon, 13.5 km from the nature reserve on Lundy Island and around 22.5 km from the coast of South Wales. RWE Innogy stated that the 240 turbines would have been capable of producing up to 1,200 MW of electricity.
In a public statement, the company revealed that it didn’t consider further development to be a viable prospect in the Bristol Channel Zone. Paul Cowling, who is also the Director of Offshore Wind for the RWE, stated that the decision wasn’t taken without careful thought and deep research into its impacts. The company had to take into account the technological research which is available as well as the conditions of the market, and when both of these were considered, the company realised that going ahead with the project would have worked against its long term interests.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change provided further information to the BBC, stating that the decision was primarily taken by the developer without factoring any external influences, and it was taken purely on the basis of the technical intricacies involved. The Department also stated that this showed the number of different complicated factors that had to be considered before the construction of offshore wind farms could begin with full flow.
However, Martyn Oates, a political editor of the South West division of the BBC, stated that the primary reason for which the project had been scrapped was basically due to a lack of funding. He continued, that only in the past week, Regen SW, a group that advocates clean energy, had stated that the announcement by the government to reduce the green subsidies in order to back renewable energy, was putting thousands of jobs on the line. It was also bringing about a halt in the overall investment within the region, and the project, had it continued, although resulting in the creation of thousands of jobs, would also have required a huge amount of investment as well.
Andrew Pendleton, the head of campaign at Friends of The Earth, stated that the ‘green bashing’ which the government had begun to pursue was now costing people their jobs, and the future security of the energy sector was also being threatened as a result of this. He stated that the United Kingdom could take advantage as it had some of the best options available when it comes to offshore wind energy, and now that harnessing this energy was becoming much more financially viable, the country should definitely go for it. He also said, however, that the ideology of not going for greener resources, an ideology which has been present at the heart of this coalition government, was causing the development of green energy to be seriously hindered in the long run.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change was singing a different tune, however, and in a statement to the BBC, stated that the United Kingdom was on course to meet its targets pertaining to the amount of renewable energy produced by the year 2020 and it was also going to deploy a decent amount of offshore wind energy by the year 2020. The manager of Lundy Island, Derek Green, couldn’t hide his happiness at the decision, however, stating that he was well and truly delighted at this news; this was going to be very positive for the tourism industry as well as the wildlife that exists in the Bristol Channel, especially the area in and around Lundy. The Landmark Trust, which owns Lundy, stated that the Trust had spent the last 40 years making sure that a special way of life was preserved within the area.
The Trust stated that even though it didn’t mind turbines near the properties owned by the Landmark Trust, offshore wind turbines should be built primarily offshore, whereas this project was destined to be built right in the center of the Bristol Channel. The Trust also stated that it understood the decision to go ahead with the project in the first place, as ‘we all need electricity’; however, there were much more appropriate places to build offshore wind farms.