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Shell plans new offshore wind farm

Shell WindEnergy is gearing up for a new offshore wind project on England’s north-west coast in a bid to remain a player in the UK market.

The firm pulled out of the country’s biggest offshore wind farm job earlier this month when it announced it was selling its stake in the £2 billion London Array project.

But Shell says it will continue to back offshore wind projects in the UK and has applied for planning and permits for a 100 MW farm off the coast of Blackpool.

A spokeswoman said: “It’s obviously quite small compared to the London Array and is still in its infancy.”

Shell has teamed up with Danish firm Dong Energy and CeltPower - a joint venture between Scottish Power and the Tomen Corporation of Japan - for the job.

Dong Energy is also a stakeholder in London Array, along with energy firm Eon, which is now on the hunt for a new partner following Shell’s departure.

Eon chief executive Dr Paul Golby said: “We’re very disappointed by Shell’s decision but will continue to work with them. At the very least, some delay to the project is now inevitable.”

Earlier this year tenders were invited for the job, which will see up to 341 turbines erected more than 12 miles off the coast in the Thames Estuary.

But costs for the scheme have rocketed, having originally been priced at £1.5 billion. Shell said it was no longer economically viable due to the increased costs of turbines and steel.

Dr Golby admitted: “The current economics of the project are marginal at best with rising steel prices, bottlenecks in turbine supply and competition from the rest of the world all moving against us.”

A number of interested parties had approached Shell about its stake before it announced its intention to sell up, suggesting a quick sale is possible.