The future of a planned wind farm off the Suffolk coast was uncertain today after one of its backers announced it was pulling out of the project.
Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) announced this morning that it would not continue its interest in the Galloper wind farm beyond the current phase of development.
The project is a joint venture between energy groups RWE Innogy UK and SSE.
Its operations and maintenance base is expected to be built at Lowestoft port, creating long-term skilled engineering jobs and increasing security for the businesses that already support the Greater Gabbard wind farm operations base on the same site.
This morning, RWE Innogy UK said that it had only just been informed of SSE’s decision and now needed time to fully understand what implications it may, or may not have, for the future direction of the project.
The announcement by SSE is part of a wider strategic review of its offshore wind development portfolio aimed at streamlining and simplifying its business.
In a statement released today, an SSE spokesman said: “SSE has decided not to take beyond the current phase of development its interest in the Galloper project.
“In its six-month financial report in November 2013, SSE said that decisions regarding the extent of the build out of its offshore wind farm pipeline would be based on its disciplined approach, consistent with its financial principles.
“That being so, and in the context of its wider capital and investment programme, SSE does not currently believe that the costs of constructing and operating Galloper, and the revenue likely to be earned from it once built will provide a return on SSE’s capital investment that will enable the project to compete successfully against other projects in SSE’s wider investment portfolio over Galloper’s planned construction timeline.
“As a result, SSE will now work with its partner and other stakeholders to secure the maximum possible value for its interest in the project.”
Galloper Offshore Wind Farm Ltd signed an agreement with Associated British Ports (ABP) in January to locate its operations and maintenance base on the old fish market site at Lowestoft port.
The site lies alongside the base for the existing Greater Gabbard wind farm, which will itself be a close neighbour of the Galloper turbines, construction work on which is due to start in 2016.
Although Galloper Offshore Wind Farm has not specified the number of jobs involved with the project, a spokesman said in January: “The local area will no doubt benefit from the multi-million pound conversion and the long-term skilled engineering jobs available at the port to staff the base.
“The investment into the ABP Port of Lowestoft is Galloper’s highest value, long-term contract awarded to date and reinforces the company’s commitment to investing into the South East area.”
The Galloper site is about 17 miles off the Suffolk coast and the wind farm will involve up to 140 turbines, with the potential to generate enough energy to power the equivalent of around 330,000 average UK households.
SSE also announced today that it would continue to invest in the Beatrice wind farm, off the Caithness coast, until the end of the year, when it would review its investment.
It would also continue to support the Seagreen, Forewind and Islay offshore wind farm projects in the short term but would not commit to further investment in the future unless it could be assured of the viability of the wider offshore wind industry.