LONDON (Reuters) - Scottish Power scrapped plans for a huge offshore wind farm on Friday due to tricky ground and wave conditions and the presence of protected sharks, making it the third utility in two weeks to drop a wind project in British waters.
The power company, owned by Spain's Iberdrola, follows RWE and Centrica, which have cancelled a project each, saying they were uneconomic because existing technology was not advanced enough.
Britain is the world's biggest offshore wind market and aims to defend its lead by multiplying current capacity by nearly five times to 18 gigawatts (GW) by the end of the decade.
Centrica and Scottish Power's decisions also came a week after the government announced new subsidy prices under a renewable energy support scheme from 2018.
Scottish Power said its decision not to proceed with the 1,800 megawatt Argyll Array wind farm was because hard rock and strong waves would make construction difficult and protected basking sharks are in the vicinity.
"The Argyll Array project is not financially viable in the short term," Scottish Power Renewables' head of offshore wind, Jonathan Cole, said in a statement.
He added that it could take 10 to 15 years before developments in technology make investment in the project viable, but that the site has some of the best wind conditions.
Offshore wind farms are some of the most expensive renewable energy projects because they are built far out at sea.
The utility declined to comment on cost expectations for the project, because its final size and the type of turbines were never decided.
Scottish Power continues to develop its 389 MW West of Duddon Sands offshore wind project with partner DONG Energy and has submitted an application to build another 1,200 MW offshore wind farm with Vattenfall called East Anglia ONE, it said.
DONG Energy also has stepped in to snap up the rights to Centrica's abandoned Race Bank project for 50 million pounds ($82 million).
(Reporting by Karolin Schaps; editing by Jane Baird)