SSE Generation, the subsidiary of Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE), and Viking Energy Ltd, have signed an agreement to develop Europe’s most productive wind farm on the Shetland Islands.
Shetland is the windiest part of the UK which is, in turn, the windiest country in Europe. A wind farm on the Islands could be expected to have a load factor of up to 50%, meaning it would produce electricity at close to its maximum capacity for around half of the time. This would make it the most productive wind farm in Europe.
Viking Energy is the company formed to represent Shetland Islands Council’s interests in large-scale wind energy development in Shetland. Its involvement would make the 600MW scheme the largest community-backed wind farm development in Europe.
SSE Generation and Viking Energy currently have separate proposals for 300MW wind farms in the central mainland of Shetland. They expect that the proposals will be combined and lead to the creation of a plan for a single 600MW wind farm. Combining their separate proposals would enable the two organisations manage all of the issues surrounding the development of major wind farms, such as environmental assessment, as part of a single project.
The development of the 600MW wind farm is subject to, amongst other things, the formal establishment of the joint venture between SSE Generation and Viking Energy, consent for the wind farm being secured from the Scottish Executive under Section 36 of the Electricity Act and on the provision of an undersea cable connecting the Islands to the electricity transmission system on the Scottish mainland.
At present, the Shetland electricity system is not connected to the electricity network on the mainland. The Islands are currently supplied by a 67MW power station at Lerwick, constructed in 1953, and by electricity generated at the Sullom Voe oil terminal and the existing Burradale wind farm.
The provision of an undersea cable by Scottish Hydro-Electric Transmission Ltd, also a subsidiary of SSE, requires Ofgem to approve the necessary investment. This means developers of renewable energy projects in Shetland have to demonstrate the viability of their investment proposals.
Ian Marchant, Chief Executive of Scottish and Southern Energy, said: “Our agreement with Viking Energy is a major step forward for the renewable energy ambitions of Scotland, the Shetland Islands and SSE. It brings a significant step closer the development of the most productive wind farm in Europe.”
Further adding that “combining our proposals with Viking Energy should lead to a larger and more coherent development on the Islands. In looking at the issues around an undersea cable, we also need to assess what should be the long-term role of the existing power station in the Islands. Despite the many challenges, I am optimistic that we will be able to demonstrate the viability of an undersea cable to the mainland.”
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