Iberdrola halts 1.8GW Argyll Array

ScottishPower Renewables (SPR) won’t proceed with development of the up-to-1.8GW Argyll Array offshore wind project, saying technical factors make the plan unviable in the short term.

The Iberdrola subsidiary said development work on Argyll Array will cease with immediate effect after a review of studies carried out over the last year.

SPR said factors such as hard rock and challenging wave conditions, plus the environmental considerations of basking sharks in the area, guided its decision over the 500MW-1.8GW development area off Scotland's west coast.

Jonathan Cole, head of offshore wind at SPR, said: “We believe it is possible to develop the Argyll Array site, it has the some of the best wind conditions of any offshore zone in the UK.

“However, it is our view that the Argyll Array project is not financially viable in the short term. As cost reductions continue to filter through the offshore wind industry, and as construction techniques and turbine technology continues to improve, we believe that the Argyll Array could become a viable project in the long term."

UK seabed landlord The Crown Estate said: “While there is an excellent wind resource at the Argyll Array site, both organisations agree that the project should not proceed at this point in time. 

"Developers have to take a wide range of factors into account when preparing to apply for planning consent. This decision by The Crown Estate and SPR follows a very thorough assessment of all those factors."

The Argyll Array verdict is the latest in a string of crunch decisions for the UK's offshore wind pipeline following the government's final decision on future support levels for the renewable source.

Even before the government announcement, Germany's RWE said it was walking away from the planned 1.2GW Atlantic Array in southwest England, also citing technical issues.

Yesterday UK utility Centrica said it wouldn't go ahead with the 580MW Race Bank project, selling it to Denmark's Dong.

Industry body RenewableUK’s deputy chief executive, Maf Smith said some projects falling by the wayside is "a natural part of the development process".

Smith added: “When you take a broad overview, the pipeline of projects is still a healthy one. We already have 22 offshore wind farms operating successfully, providing clean electricity for 2.5 million households. Five more are under construction, a further eight have been approved and another twelve are awaiting consent.

“The current pipeline of projects gives us the potential to have 20GW of wind energy installed in UK waters, more than five times as much as we have now."

SPR remains active in UK offshore wind via the 389MW West of Duddon Sands project it is building with Dong, and its share with Vattenfall of the 7.2GW East Anglia Round 3 zone.