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Shell Pulls Out Of World’s Biggest Wind Farm, Draws Criticism

london_array.jpgTwo days after Royal Dutch Shell posted a 25 percent increase in first quarter profit to a record $9.1 billion, the company announced plans to sell its stake in the world’s largest planned offshore wind-power station, the Guardian reports.

Politicians and environmentalists responded with indictments of greed and irresponsibility saying the move could put the London Array plan at risk.

The plan to put 341 large wind turbines in the River Thames Estuary in Southeast England involved equal investments from Shell, E.On U.K. — a subsidiary of German utility E.On AG — and Denmark’s Dong Energy A/S. When up and running, the London Array would generate 1,000 megawatts, or enough electricity to power as many as a quarter of the homes in greater London.

Paul Golby, chief executive of E.On U.K., reaffirmed the company’s commitment to the plan but noted the economics of the project are now “marginal at best.”

The cost of the Array was said to be at £1.5 billion, or about $3 billion, when it was announced in 2005, but estimates for a project that size now are between £2 and £3 billion, or $4 billion and $6 billion.

Shell spokeswoman Eurwen Thomas said the decision was part of the company’s “ongoing review of project and investment choices,” and the company will instead invest in onshore wind projects in the U.S.

Royal Dutch Shell recently said it will stop investing in Europe if utilities are forced to pay for emissions permits through auctions.

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