I thank Andrew Halcrow for the courtesy of replying to my letter, and also thank him for his kind words in respect to my tenure as an SIC councillor and Shetland Charitable Trust trustee.
Andrew has had the good grace to admit that Sustainable Shetland does not have a viable project plan to maintain the Shetland electricity grid, post oil, and therein lies its dilemma. It seems to support smaller individual or community enterprises supplying only Shetland’s electricity needs despite the inherent difficulties, if not impossibility, of balancing such a grid.
The NINES project will allow around 30 per cent of Shetland’s grid to be supplied by intermittent renewables, but not all, and not from everybody. Isn’t it ironic, therefore, that by denying the need for an interconnector to the national grid to absorb surplus generation, providing there is spare capacity, Sustainable Shetland’s stance could be denying some Shetlanders the opportunity of generating their own electricity?
I have taken the liberty of copying, below, a couple of lines from Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission Limited (SHETL) website which readers may find interesting:
“The Shetland High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) connection is planned to provide a high capacity electricity connection between the GB transmission system and renewable energy projects on Shetland, most notably the proposed windfarm being promoted by the Viking Energy Partnership (the Viking windfarm project).
“Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission Limited (SHETL), as a holder of an electricity transmission licence, has statutory obligations under The Electricity Act 1989 that require it to develop this connection and deliver it if the windfarm is consented.”
Fortunately, SSE has indicated that, having gained consent, it will continue with the Viking windfarm project irrespective of the Shetland Charitable Trust remaining in partnership or not.
This means that the interconnector will come and thereby enable possible development of other sustainable energy projects throughout Shetland.
The only question that remains is if trustees have the vision to maintain their financial investment in the project and see it through to fruition. Their decision could mean the difference between the charitable trust benefiting from another industrial renaissance, as it did in the oil era, or making do with declining returns to the trust as demands on it increase.