Wind Power
RWE had pulled out of a major wind project off the north coast of Devon that could have generated power for 900,000 homes (Reuters)

RWE has pulled out of a major wind farm project off the north coast of Devon that would have powered up to 900,000 homes.

The German utilities giant said that uncertain market conditions and technological challenges were the reasons for shelving the £3.8bn ($6.14, €4.5bn) enterprise, which would have generated 1,200 megawatts of electricity from turbines over 220 metres tall.

There were plans to have 240 turbines in the Atlantic Array project, which had attracted criticism from environmentalists.

Paul Cowling, director of Offshore Wind at RWE Innogy said: "This is not a decision we have taken lightly, however given the technological challenges and market conditions, now is not the right time for RWE to continue to progress with this project."

According to RWE deep water and poor seabed conditions led to a review and the decision to shelve the project.

Cowling said that the company would continue to focus on energy projects that were easier to complete.

"We will continue to focus on the other less technically challenging offshore projects within our extensive offshore pipeline of up to 5.2GW. Offshore wind remains one of the strategic objectives for RWE and the UK has a major role to play within our portfolio.

"We are looking forward to the completion of Gwynt-Y-Mor next year. At 576 MW this will become the second largest operating offshore wind farm in the world," he added.

The Atlantic Array project was orginally conceived in June 2008. The Crown Estate, which manages the sea bed around the UK, launched the third round of its leasing programme for the delivery of up to 25 gigawatts by 2020 of new generation capacity from offshore wind.

RWE submitted a bid to the Crown Estate for the Bristol Channel Zone and was awarded the development rights.

Cowling said that he was grateful for the support RWE had received.

Speaking on behalf of the Crown Estate, Huub den Rooijen, head of offshore wind said: "Now that the industry has been developing projects for a number of years, there is a much deeper understanding of the characteristics of successful projects and we will see further attrition in the time to come.

The scheme has been met with a barrage of local objection from both North Devon and Torridge district councils, and from locally formed campaign groups, including Slay the Array.

Slay The Array hailed the decision to abandon the project as "sensible and realistic".