RWE drops £4bn Atlantic Array offshore wind project (Video)

RWE Innogy has announced it will not move forward with development of the Atlantic Array offshore wind power project in the UK Bristol Channel Zone. Citing significant technical challenges, the German company said following intensive research the planned £4bn wind project was deemed economically prohibitive in current market conditions. (See Video Statement from RWE Below)

In June 2008, The Crown Estate, which manages the sea bed around the UK, launched the third round of its leasing program for the delivery of up to 25 gigawatts by 2020 of new generation capacity from offshore wind.

RWE submitted a bid to The Crown Estate for the Bristol Channel Zone and was awarded the development rights for the area which is located in the outer Bristol Channel. The company then submitted an application to the Planning Inspectorate for the Atlantic Array Project with a planned generation capacity of up to 1, 200 megawatts.

The Crown Estate has now agreed to accept RWE’s request to terminate the agreement and halt development activities in the Zone, and to surrender the option for the Atlantic Array project, thereby removing RWE’s seabed rights.

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"This is not a decision we have taken lightly, however given the technological challenges and market conditions, now is not the right time for RWE to continue to progress with this project," said Paul Cowling, Director of Offshore Wind at RWE Innogy.

"We will continue to focus on the other less technically challenging offshore projects within our extensive offshore pipeline of up to 5.2 GW. Offshore wind remains one of the strategic objectives for RWE and the UK has a major role to play within our portfolio. We are looking forward to the completion of Gwynt-Y-Mor next year. At 576 MW this will become the second largest operating offshore wind farm in the world."

RWE said expected innovation and cost reductions for the wind energy industry over the next decade may open up opportunities in more challenging areas, such as in the Bristol Channel, in the future.

Speaking on behalf of The Crown Estate, Huub den Rooijen, Head of Offshore Wind said, "Now that the industry has been developing projects for a number of years, there is a much deeper understanding of the characteristics of successful projects and we will see further attrition in the time to come. Paradoxically, this is a positive development because it provides greater clarity to key stakeholders such as supply chain and consenting bodies, and brings greater focus to the investment opportunities."

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