The Argyll Array wind farm was to have been built near Tiree in the Inner Hebrides and ScottishPower Renewables had been planning the project since 2009.
However, today it stated that as a result of technical and environmental studies it had decided to shelve its proposals. It said that “the project may be viable to reconsider as offshore wind technology develops in the longer term”, but added that it did not expect this to “be within the next decade”.
There are three main reasons given by the company for scrapping the project – and one of them is rather unusual. It said there were issues with “the ground conditions in the site, particularly the presence of hard rock, coupled with challenging wave conditions which could impact construction”.
However it added that “beyond this, there is a significant presence of basking sharks [pictured], 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: “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.”
Cole said that progress in the development of foundation and installation technology “has been slower than anticipated” and “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.”
ScottishPower Renewables’ decision comes just three weeks after RWE scrapped plans to build the £4bn Atlantic Array offshore wind farm off southwest England because of “market conditions and significant technical challenges”.