Scottish Power Renewables Update on Argyll Array Offshore Windfarm
Following detailed technical and environmental site studies, ScottishPower Renewables (SPR) has confirmed that they will not be taking forward their lease option to develop the Argyll Array Offshore Windfarm in the near future. The company has stated that the project may be viable to reconsider as offshore wind technology develops in the longer term, but estimates that will not be within the next decade.
ScottishPower Renewables has been working on the Argyll Array project since 2009, and a variety of detailed technical and environmental studies have been completed as part of their initial development work. These studies have been thoroughly reviewed over the last 12 months in order to evaluate the viability of the project and on the basis of these findings, a decision not to progress the project, has been taken by both ScottishPower Renewables and The Crown Estate.
The main issues affecting the progression of the project are the ground conditions in the site, particularly the presence of hard rock, coupled with challenging wave conditions which could impact construction. Beyond this, there is a significant presence of basking sharks, which environmental groups continue to study to get a greater understanding of their movements in the area.
Jonathan Cole, Head of Offshore Wind at ScottishPower Renewables, 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.
“The rate of progress in development of foundation and installation technology has been slower than anticipated. The current outlook for offshore wind deployment in the UK suggests this will not significantly improve in the short term. This supports the view that it could take 10-15 years for the required technology improvements to be available for this project.
“The Crown Estate agrees with our findings and development work will cease on the project with immediate effect. This will give ScottishPower Renewables the opportunity to fully construct the West of Duddon Sands project with DONG Energy, and continue development work on the East Anglia Zone with Vattenfall.”
The Crown Estate manages the seabed around the UK, including leasing for offshore renewable energy projects. The organisation, which works on a commercial basis with profits paid to the UK Government, does not regulate or give planning consent for projects.
Ronnie Quinn who leads The Crown Estate’s Scottish Energy & Infrastructure team 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. We look forward to continuing to work with ScottishPower Renewables on other sites and programmes.”
ScottishPower Renewables continues to demonstrate commitment to offshore wind in the UK, with the 389MW West of Duddon Sands project currently under construction in the Irish Sea with DONG Energy. An application for consent was also submitted in 2012 with Vattenfall for the East Anglia ONE offshore windfarm, which could have a capacity of up to 1200MW.