Oil giant Shell’s decision to pull out of the world’s biggest planned offshore wind farm to be built in Britain resulted in a storm of criticism last week. Politicians and environmentalists accused Shell of being “greedy” and “irresponsible” in the British media. Many also believe that the move is part of a larger trend by Shell away from its renewable energy initiatives.
And the future of the London Array wind farm seems uncertain now. Shell was one of the three shareholders in the project together with German power company E.On and Danish utility DONG Energy. When fully operational, the wind farm would have provided electricity to power 750,000 homes, or around a quarter of London — its 341 turbines would have generated 1,000 megawatts of power.
The decision of Shell is also a major setback for Britain as London Array has been the symbol of the country’s renewable energy future. Britain is having a hard time meeting the European Union’s target of producing 15 percent of the country’s total energy from renewables by 2020. London Array wind farm was designed to provide around 10 percent of the renewable electricity produced in Britain by 2010.
It seems ironic that the decision made by the oil giant that has marketed itself with its renewable energy plans came only days after the company reported record profits. Shell has declined to give a detailed reason for its decision to sell its 33 percent share in the wind farm. However, Shell has said it plans to pursue other wind projects in the US where government incentives are more competitive and permitting easier to obtain.