Iberdrola has questioned ministers’ drive for expensive offshore wind farms, just days after receiving approval to build one of the world’s largest such projects off the UK coast.
Ignacio Galan, chairman of the Spanish company, which owns ScottishPower, attacked the way in which subsidies for green energy were pushing up bills across Europe and suggested that Britain should prioritise building more cheaper onshore wind farms.
Iberdrola last week received planning consent for the massive East Anglia offshore wind farm, which would receive some of the biggest consumer-funded subsidies on offer for green energy projects.
Mr Galan acknowledged that offshore wind was “more expensive than onshore” and said he had questioned several times “why to [build] offshore when you have already have places to [build] onshore”.
“If I should make the energy policy I should do it in another manner,” he said. “I [would] promote first onshore wind… and after, offshore. But I think the energy policy, because of whatever political reason they don’t like to build on mainland, and they would like to build in the sea.”
Michael Fallon, the Conservative energy minister, has pledged to cap onshore wind deployment if the Tories win the 2015 election but has backed offshore wind, despite higher costs.
Keith Anderson, chief corporate officer for ScottishPower, said: “Let’s not artifically cap onshore wind because all you are doing is you are going to put the cost up for consumers.”
But he insisted that offshore wind farms such as its proposed East Anglia site were still necessary or else Britain would not have “a hope in hell” of meeting its green energy targets.
“If the UK wants to achieve it’s renewable targets it needs to build offshore as well,” he said. “That doesn’t mean you have to abandon onshore wind, because the less onshore you do the more offshore you do and the more expensive it is.
“For the benefit of UK consumers, onshore gives you a more effective solution. Our view is the UK should look to maximise onshore wind.”
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