Regen SW: West Coast With no Round 3 Offshore Wind Project
The cancellation of the 4.2GW Celtic Array wind farm by the development partnership of Centrica and DONG, represents a “real blow” to the economy on the west coast of the UK, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, according to independent experts, Regen SW.
The announcement comes just eight months after the cancellation of RWE’s 1.2GW Atlantic Array project in the Bristol Channel and 4 months after SSE’s cancellation of the 0.7GW Islay Array; leaving the west coast with no Round 3 offshore wind projects and a dwindling Round 2 pipeline of just 2.6GW left to build, 30% of what it was a year ago.
These west coast regions have been investing in the work force and infrastructure to serve offshore wind for the past 10 years and now face a vacuum to the tune of 6.1GW of lost pipeline capacity and more than 10,000 future jobs. An example of this investment in infrastructure is Belfast Harbour’s purpose built offshore wind terminal, completed in February 2013 to build and service the future Irish Sea wind farms at a cost of £50m. The facility currently supports hundreds of jobs in the city.
Ian Godfrey, programme manager, Regen SW said “whilst the technical challenges of ground conditions at the Celtic Array and Atlantic Array locations have been cited as the reason for the demise of both projects, the root cause is arguably political.”
Ian continued “There is a big mismatch between the potential UK offshore wind pipeline of 37GW and the government’s target for 10 to 12GW by 2020. The recently announced Contract for Difference budget for offshore wind appears to reduce this ambition further. These disparities do not create the stable and appetising investment climate required by the industry.”
“With commitment to creating the right investment climate and an increased focus on research and development of foundation systems for complex ground conditions and deep water sites, the UK will continue to play a global leadership role in the sector, reaping the rewards of this position with economic growth both locally and through global exports.”
The planned trial of the PelaStar floating wind foundation at Wave Hub in 2015 is an example of how the south west of the UK is engaging in this research and development activity, creating intellectual property, reducing costs and opening up UK offshore wind resource by making deeper sites accessible.
The next ten years will be instrumental in determining whether the UK remains as a global leader in the offshore wind sector. With the right political support, the west coast of the UK has the resource and the expertise to contribute to and benefit from this leadership position.