Big news yesterday. Shell have pulled out of the London Array – the world’s largest offshore windfarm proposal. Bit of a shock to the well-spun world of offshore wind. As is the reason – that it doesn’t stack up financially. Shell, bless em, with record first quarter profits of £3.9 billion – you’d think they could afford a few windmills. Actually what they’re saying is they can’t make enough money out of it. Profit before planet of course.
Offshore wind is a bad idea for a number of reasons – the cost to build being twice that of onshore wind is a big one. But even the supposed efficiency benefits of offshore wind have failed to materialise as recent government statistics show offshore performs no better than onshore – in some cases worse.
Shell have acted for purely selfish reasons but their withdrawal will do some good. The offshore bandwagon needed a reality check.
The government will have to stump up vastly more money or face the probability that offshore dreams will remain only that. Or, dare I say it, just tweak the planning system for onshore wind and stand back and watch the UK’s wind capacity soar.