It would have been the biggest offshore wind farm in the world, but the German utility RWE just announced it’s abandoning its plan to build the 1.2 GW project off the coast of Britain. The FT reports:
RWE insisted the decision on the Atlantic Array had nothing to do with UK policy and everything to do with the technical challenges of the project: the area earmarked for the wind farm is affected by strong currents and has a high tidal range and an average water depth of 45m.The seabed conditions are also difficult. Wind turbines are generally attached to monopiles or jackets that are hammered into the seabed. But these are unsuitable for the seabed of the Bristol Channel.
The technical challenges aren’t new, but the market conditions, which RWE described a “prohibitive,” seem to be. That’s because British politicians are running—not walking—back from green energy commitments in the wake of spiraling gas and electricity bills. Suddenly, the $6.5 billion project doesn’t seem like a smart bet, now that strong government support isn’t a given.Greens will see this as a defeat, but this may be in Britain’s best interest. Instead of building a technically fraught farm in dangerous waters at high costs to produce intermittent energy, the UK would be better off drilling for its own sizable reserves of shale gas. Doing so could help bring down heating bills, which is quickly becoming one of the biggest issues in Britain today.[Wind turbines image courtesy of Getty Images]