UK Blocks Offshore Wind Project, Three More Face Further Delays

In the past few months, three British offshore wind projects have been delayed, a total of 6 gigawatts. On Tuesday evening a fourth was blocked altogether. Although the industry maintains its faith in the support from the government, there is anger and concern that further hold-ups could have larger consequences.

Vattenfall’s Thanet Extension planned to add around 340 megawatts to the existing 300-megawatt Thanet project. The department for business, energy and industrial strategy (BEIS) said the impact on shipping was not outweighed by the additional renewable capacity the project would deliver. It was rejected after office hours on Tuesday.

Vattenfall’s Norfolk Vanguard and Norfolk Boreas projects, each 1,800 megawatts, and Ørsted’s 2,400-megawatt Hornsea 3 site have all been hit by further delays recently. Hornsea 3 was supposed to be decided in October last year.

Good government relations begin to show cracks

There are no tangible signs that the U.K. government’s long-term commitment is wavering.

It has established a trusted tendering process via the contracts for difference program (CFD). There are 8.5 gigawatts of operational projects in U.K. waters. The non-binding sector deal, between the industry and the authorities, aligned the two on issues such as local content and supply chain development. The Ministry of Defence has been working proactively to relieve the impact on radar and aviation. The country set a 40-gigawatt offshore wind target by 2030 less than six months ago, up from 30 gigawatts.

Despite all this, developers are not happy about the impact of delays.

“Norfolk Vanguard is one of the most innovative and ambitious offshore wind projects in the world,” said Danielle Lane, U.K. country manager for Vattenfall. “Yet this is now the second time it has suffered a delay, despite addressing all of the major concerns raised during the planning process."

“Coming so soon after the decision on Norfolk Boreas was pushed back until October, the offshore wind industry will be left wondering about the Government's intentions for this sector,” she said.

On the Thanet Extension, Lane said the company would assess its options.

The refusal to approve the project can be challenged via a judicial review but that’s not quite the same as an appeal on the project’s merits. That process only looks at whether the original decision was lawful, it is not a reevaluation of a project’s application. As an example, earlier this year the lawfulness of the decision to approve a new gas power plant was challenged on the basis it was not aligned to the U.K.’s climate change laws, rather than whether the project itself was sound.

BEIS had not responded to GTM’s questions regarding the delays as news on the Thanet Extension decision broke.

Delays have consequences, Vattenfall warns

Although the latest delay to Vanguard...