Energy firm axes UK windfarm amid political uncertainty
Britain’s green ambitions have been dealt a blow as a big six energy company has pulled the plug on one of the world’s largest offshore windfarms, with the political storm enveloping the industry threatening the multibillion-pound investments needed to meet emissions targets and head off a looming capacity crunch.
Weeks after warning that the government was treating environmental subsidies as a “political football”, the German-owned RWE npower is pulling out of the £4bn Atlantic Array project in the Bristol Channel because the economics do not stack up.
The move comes as figures show that energy firms reaped a 77% increase in profits per customer last year, due to bill increases that the big six say are partly due to government green levies.
The shelving of the Atlantic Array is a setback for the government, which is banking on bigger windfarms in deeper waters to help provide low-carbon power. The RWE cancellation is the first axing of a Round 3 windfarm – schemes such as those in Dogger Bank, Hornsea and East Anglia, which are supposed to help the government meet a target of generating 15% of energy from renewable sources by 2020. It will also raise further concerns about investors being frightened away by political rows and policy uncertainty.
The Renewable Energy Association (REA), which lobbies for more low-carbon power, said government infighting over subsidies was causing deep uncertainty in the industry.