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Korean investor drops wind turbines plan

published: 2012-04-20 14:32

Industry analysts said the decision showed how regulatory uncertainty in the UK was beginning to deter investors. In February, GE Energy also said it was putting plans for a €110m wind turbine factory on hold.

“The whole industry has been calling for clarity on the financial framework it’ll be working in over the next 10 years,” said Rob Norris, spokesman for Renewables UK, the wind lobby group. “It’s got to know what level of support it’ll be getting from the government_– both short term and long term.”

Some of the uncertainty has been generated by a government review of the incentive scheme for wind projects, which is based on renewable obligation certificates, or ROCs. Late last year ministers unveiled a slight cut in the current subsidy for onshore wind of one ROC per megawatt hour of electricity produced, and a gradual reduction in the 2 ROCs for offshore wind. But the changes, which were put out to consultation, have still not been officially confirmed.

Meanwhile, the whole ROC system is due to be replaced in 2017 by a feed-in-tariff system that guarantees returns for low-carbon power generation. But there is deep uncertainty about how the scheme will work and who will administer it.

Opponents of wind power are also growing more vocal. Lord Carlile, the Liberal Democrat peer, launched a new national body on Thursday called National Opposition to Windfarms, or NOW. The group’s website says it will be “a source of collective knowledge and strategic help” in the fight against wind power.

At the same time, new research by Ipsos MORI for Renewables UK showed that 67 per cent were in favour of wind power, with 28 per cent “strongly in favour” and only 8 per cent opposed.

Doosan may have pulled back from its UK investment, but others are pushing ahead. Siemens, which is investing £80m in a manufacturing facility in Hull that will make components for wind farms, said the project was on track.

Doosan announced last spring that it would build a renewable energy research centre in Renfrew, Scotland, which would work to develop a 6MW wind turbine for the European market.

It said it was also in discussions to build a wind turbine manufacturing plant in the UK which would employ 700 people, with an additional 1,000 in the supply chain. The deal would be worth up to £170m of investment over the next 10 years.

The company insisted that it remained “committed to working in Scotland and the UK as a whole” and was continuing to invest in technology and product development here.

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