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Talks could see revival of axed Galloper windfarm project

PUBLISHED: 15:53 30 December 2014 | UPDATED: 16:10 30 December 2014

Orbis Energy article: Great Gabbard Offshore Wind Farm

Orbis Energy article: Great Gabbard Offshore Wind Farm

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Plans for a major windfarm off the coast of East Anglia which were shelved two months ago could be revived next year, it has emerged.

RWE Innogy, which said in October that it would not be going ahead with the 68-turbine Galloper development, now says it is in talks with several potential new partners and hopes to make a further announcement in the spring.

Galloper, which is estimated to be worth around £20million to the local economy, including 850 jobs, would effectively be an extension to the existing Greater Gabbard windfarm, off Felxistowe and Harwich.

Germany-based RWE Innogy is still working with Galloper’s joint owner, Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE), which announced last March that it would not continue its interest in the project beyond the current phase of development, and the two are talking to “a number of other companies” over potential involvement.

In October, RWE Innogy blamed its decision on uncertainty over its ability to meet tight timescales for securing finance and accreditation in line with the Renewables Obligation Certificates (ROCs) support mechanism, but a new mechanism, known as Contracts for Difference (CfD), involves different rules.

Stephen Thomas, head of communications for RWE Innogy UK, said the talks now in progress were focusing on progressing Gallper as a CfD project but with an outside possibility of it still being developed under ROCs.

“We are looking at all options for Galloper to see where the project goes in the future,” he said. “We all want the project to work.”

“We hope that in March/April time, we can come out with something that explains what the future for the project is.”

Johnathan Reynolds, business development lead at Lowestoft’s offshore renewable energy hub OrbisEnergy, said the news would be welcomed across the industry and the community.

“Lowestoft had already been selected as Galloper’s operations and maintenance base, creating long-term skilled engineering jobs and increasing security for the businesses that already support the Greater Gabbard wind farm operations base on the same site,” he said.

“There is good reason for the momentum to be continued and it is heartening that RWE does consider Galloper to be economically feasible and a project worth pursuing. Nearly three quarters of the UK’s windpower capacity would soon be off the coasts of Suffolk, Norfolk, and Essex.”

Waveney MP Peter Aldous, who said in October that he hoped RWE Innogy’s announcement would prove only to be a postponement, said: “This is excellent news that the plans are still moving forward. This project will result in significant benefits to the whole region, and our economy and employment prospects.

“Offshore wind power is a central part of our huge potential for growth in the energy sector and I look forward to hearing a positive announcement in the spring.

“Right now we have more offshore wind generation off the region’s coast than anywhere in the world, and with it some significant opportunities for local businesses. That’s only going to increase with the development of Galloper,” he added.

If agreement is reached to progress Galloper as a CfD project, it will be bidding for funding in competition with two other schemes off the coast of East Anglia which have also received consent – Scottish Power Renewables and Vattenfall’s East Anglia One, located off Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth, and Dong Energy’s Race Bank scheme, off Blakeney, on the north Norfolk coast.

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