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Shell leaves UK renewables in jeopardy

by David Masters
May 2, 2008

The Government has been left fuming with embarrassment after Royal Dutch Shell announced its decision to pull out of backing the world’s largest proposed offshore windfarm.

The £2 billion windfarm – dubbed the ‘London Array’ – is to be built on the Thames Estury, and will provide up to 1% of the UK’s electricity needs.

Shell has announced it is withdrawing its one third stake in the project, and instead is investing in less risky on-shore wind farms in the US.

The announcement comes shortly after Shell reported profits of £7.7 billion for the first quarter of 2008.

Shell’s withdrawal has cast serious doubts over the future of the London Array, which will need to find another backer.

Environment Minister Hilary Benn said that he is “very disappointed” with Shell’s decision.

Paul Golby, CEO of E.ON, the project’s only remaining commercial investor, expressed similar sentiments.

The announcement has led to serious criticisms of the Government’s renewable energy policy. The Liberal Democrats have said that Shell’s decision “blows a huge hole in the Government’s rhetoric about renewable energy.”

Shell frequently flaunts its green credentials, despite only 1% of its investments being in renewable energy projects.

However, the Government are likely to be left the most embarrassed by the decision, as it leaves them floundering even further away from their target of producing 15% of the UK’s energy using renewable sources by 2015.

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