Future of the giant Thames estuary wind farm on a knife edge

The economics of the world's biggest offshore wind farm project are "on a knife-edge", the chief executive of one of the companies behind it has warned.

Paul Golby, chief executive of Eon UK, told the Financial Times that the company was committed to the London Array - the planned 1,000MW wind farm in the Thames estuary.

But he warned "the economics are looking pretty difficult… and its viability has been called into question by the falling prices of oil, gas and carbon dioxide emissions permits.”

The stark assessment comes ahead of publication today of a government study on the feasibility of erecting offshore wind turbines round Britain.

This concludes that there is scope for 5,000-7,000 turbines, which would equate to 25,000MW and a huge expansion of renewable energy is vital to plans for hitting EU targets for greenhouse gas emissions.

Golby’s comments are part of the intensifying pressure from the industry for a more generous subsidy scheme.

Eon owns 30 per cent of the Array project. Royal Dutch Shell, the oil group, dropped out last year, to be replaced by Masdar, the Abu Dhabi renewable energy group, which owns 20 per cent. The other half is owned by Dong, the Danish energy group.

The government hopes more investors will emerge, as the Crown Estate, which owns the offshore seabed, is meeting 90 potential investors as part of the process of granting licences to build on the seabed.