The decision is part of the company’s plan to streamline its operations to offset the cost of freezing its domestic gas and electricity prices for two years, which it also announced today.

As part of its streamlining programme, SSE will scale back plans for four offshore wind developments and cut 500 jobs. At present, the projects represent potentially up to 4,970MW of offshore wind farm capacity for SSE.

Following a “wide ranging review” of its offshore wind development portfolio, SSE said it does not plan to extend its commitment to the projects until it has achieved “sufficient confidence in the viability of the wider UK offshore wind sector”.

The decision was partly due to the Levy Control Framework, which the company says is helping control costs to customers from government energy policies but is also “limiting support for offshore wind”. It also highlighted cost as a main barrier to its offshore wind development plans.

SSE’s managing director of generation development, Jim Smith, said: “The future of offshore wind farm development depends on a sustainable and lower cost supply chain”.

Responding to the announcement, Ecotricity founder Dale Vince today called on the Government to stop the decline of investment in renewable energy.

Vince said: “There is so much political pressure on the energy industry at the moment, the sector is so politicised, that we are seeing energy companies make wrong, short-term decisions and fail to invest in renewable energy, which is the only way to develop energy independence and lower bills in the long term.

“We need a grown up debate about energy in this country. SSE’s price freeze once again exposes the failure of energy companies and the Government to embrace a long term view. SSE are cutting 500 jobs and dumping significant offshore wind projects. It just shows how broken the industry is that these sacrifices have to be made just for short term price stability.

“Offshore wind projects have been falling like flies over the last year, and renewable energy and carbon targets are in serious jeopardy.

Vince said that offshore wind projects have been “falling like flies over the last year”, and renewable energy and carbon targets are in “serious jeopardy”.

“This is the Government’s energy policy uncertainty coming home to roost,” he said.

Contrastingly, manufacturing giant Siemens and its partner Associated British Ports (ABP) announced yesterday that they are investing a total of €371m (£311m) in new offshore wind production facilities in Britain.

Siemens said British energy policy creates a “favourable framework for the expansion of offshore wind energy”.

Leigh Stringer

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie