Scottish Power Halts Offshore Wind Plan Due to Technical Hurdles

Scottish Power Ltd. dropped plans to build a wind farm off the country’s shores because of technical challenges, the second such proposal to be axed since November.

The Argyll Array project with capacity of as much as 1,800 megawatts was thwarted by high waves, hard rock and nearby basking sharks, the company’s renewables unit said today in a statement. Technologies such as turbine foundations and vessels haven’t developed fast enough to allow for the project, it said.

The decision is a blow for U.K. plans to create an offshore wind industry to secure power supplies and cut emissions. RWE AG on Nov. 26 abandoned its Atlantic Array venture in the Bristol Channel as engineering hurdles made the project too costly. The government boosted subsidies for offshore wind producers Dec. 4.

“The Argyll Array project is not financially viable in the short-term,” Jonathan Cole, ScottishPower Renewables Ltd.’s head of offshore wind, said in the statement on the company’s website. The venture may become viable in 10 to 15 years when costs fall and technologies improve, he said.

Scottish Power, a unit of Spain’s Iberdrola SA, won rights to build the plant off the west coast near the island of Tiree in October 2011. It’s currently building the 389-megawatt West of Duddon Sands wind farm in the Irish Sea with Dong Energy A/S.

The Danish utility yesterday said it agreed to buy Centrica Plc’s Race Bank project off eastern England after reports the venture may be axed without more support. That shows some plans are proceeding even as challenges nix others, said Maf Smith, deputy chief executive officer of the RenewableUK lobby.

“Some encounter physical obstacles or financial challenges which mean that they aren’t viable for the time being,” he said in a statement. “They will be in the future as cutting-edge wind turbine technology is developing at an astonishing rate.”

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