23rd February 2018
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‘Business as usual’, says new Viking Energy boss as projected community profits lowered

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Viking Energy has scaled down the projected profits the community will earn from its windfarm from £23 million to £20 million a year.

It now hopes the contentious 103-turbine project will start exporting power and earning profit for Shetland Charitable Trust in late 2018.

The new chairman of the Shetland-owned half of the venture, Alan Bryce, said it was “business as usual” with preparations well under way.

Mr Bryce, a former managing director of Scottish Power’s energy networks, joined the team in December as chairman of Viking Energy Shetland (VES), which is 90 per cent owned by Shetland Charitable Trust. 

The Scottish Government’s decision to grant consent for the project is being challenged in court by anti-Viking group Sustainable Shetland. A judicial review in the Court of Session began in late January before being adjourned, and is expected to resume in April.

Sustainable Shetland, which has more than 800 members, is arguing that energy minister Fergus Ewing should have ordered a public inquiry. It claims the government failed to comply with its obligations under the EU Birds Directive in relation to the potential impact on the whimbrel, a migratory wading bird. 

VES is in a 50-50 partnership with SSE to build the £700 million windfarm, which has consent for 103 turbines in the Central Mainland and a maximum rated capacity of 457 megawatts.

Mr Bryce said updated income projections showed the charitable trust could achieve a return of around £20 million a year for community funds if it proceeds with its investment in the windfarm. The new figure reflects the reduced earning potential due to the Scottish Government’s decision to delete 24 turbines from the application.

Viking said it expected another £6 million a year to be paid to crofters and landowners. It estimates £5 million could be paid out for services and in wages to the permanent workforce of around 30 people. 

A new date of November 2018 for connection to the National Grid, rather than the envisaged “switch on” in December 2017, has meant some rescheduling of Viking’s work programme. Some of the detailed ground investigations have been delayed until next year.

The three-year construction period from 2016 is expected to require an average of 140 workers. 

VES’s head of development Aaron Priest said this was “an exciting time” for the local team with Mr Bryce and the other two new directors, Elsbeth Johnson and Joe Philipsz, now closely involved following their appointment in December.

Mr Priest paid tribute to the previous board members, Bill Manson, Caroline Miller and Alastair Cooper, for “a sterling effort in bringing the project to its current advanced stage of development”.

Mr Priest said: “The new board’s responsibility will be to ensure that the project continues to move steadily forward from its current consented status, through a Final Investment Decision (FID) and, thereafter, into construction and operation.”

Work is continuing in the local office and within SSE. It includes detailed engineering design, equipment selection, financial modelling and finance options, liaison with stakeholders, finalising land agreements, lobbying on transmission costs and delivery of the grid connection. 

Viking expects Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission’s 600MW interconnector cable from Shetland will make landfall in Caithness in preference to previous proposals which would have seen a longer subsea route to either an offshore hub at the Beatrice oilfield or straight to Banffshire.

Mr Bryce said connecting Shetland to the National Grid would “lay the foundations” for development of future industries in wave and tidal power and possibly offshore wind.

He said the windfarm was expected to produce “world class” output levels averaging around 44 per cent of maximum yearly capacity, significantly greater than the 27 per cent achieved by UK onshore windfarms. He said that was “superior even to existing UK offshore windfarms which average around 37 per cent”, according to UK government statistics.

Meanwhile, two new employees have been taken on at Viking’s office at the North Ness in Lerwick. Sharon Powell has joined as administration officer, while community liaison officer John Robertson has been in post since the start of this year. The other employees are Mr Priest, project information officer David Thomson and adviser Angus Ward.

About Adam Civico

The Shetland Times editor since October 2012. Born and bred in South Yorkshire, before moving to Shetland I was assistant editor at the Barnsley Chronicle, where my journalism career began. When not editing The Shetland Times I can be found walking or (occasionally) running, enjoying good food, or trying to find the latest Sheffield Wednesday result. Contact me with your news and views about Shetland – a.civico@shetlandtimes.co.uk, on Twitter @adamcivico or telephone 01595 746715.

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10 comments

  1. Graham Henderson

    The community should hardly be surprized that the initial £23 million annual revenue should be reduced: 150 turbines where planned at first; the first application was for 127 turbines (upon which the current 457 MW are quoted) but this was further decreased to 103 turbines, which can only generate 379 MW.
    Fewer MW equal less revenue. This is simple mathematics.
    Had the initial project gone ahead, the 150 turbines would have had a propuction capacity of 540 MW!
    Almost one third of the potential revenue has been cropped by objectors and folk in government trying to please appease nimbies with a reduction in turbine numbers.
    For those of us who are concerned about this matter, they should listen to the BBC Radio 4 interview with Alistair Buchannan on this morning’s Today programme. It should concentrate minds.
    Med vindkraft skal land byggja – with windpower shall this land be built.

    Reply
  2. Billy Fox

    Extract from a presentation on Viking Energy given to the Shetland Charitable Trust on 8th December 2008.

    “The Project Manager (A. Priest) advised that, as far as he understood from SHETL, there was no delay to the tender process on the cable and that their expectation appeared to be that tenders would be assessed early next year”.

    Hey ho, I hope Mr Bryce won’t be offended if I do not hold my breath!

    Billy Fox
    Quarff
    Shetland Charitable Trust beneficiary
    (a watchful one of c.22,500).

    Reply
  3. James Mackenzie

    Graham Henderson is incorrect about the vast majority of turbine deletions. All of the turbines in the Delting and Collafirth quadrants were in the exclusion zone around Scatsta Airport, as can be seen in the (now sadly moribund) SIC Draft Interim Planning Policy on Windfarms over 20MW – although Viking Energy claimed that the Collafirth ones were deleted (in their second application) on environmental grounds. It was Scatsta Airport’s objection that led Scottish Ministers to remove the Delting turbines – nothing to do with “trying to appease nimbies”.

    As for the Shetland motto, I prefer the original: “With law shall the land be built.”
    With windpower the land is more likely to be b******d.

    Reply
  4. ian tinkler

    SSE shown as dishonest in business, again!!! Viking Energy, with partners like this how can it fail. Energy provider SSE (LSE: SSE.L – news) has been fined £10.5m by industry watchdog Ofgem for repeated mis-selling to householders. This is the largest UK fine ever for miss selling. Just what Shetland and our Charitable Trust needs as a business partner, pure unadulterated dishonesty, should make a good bed fellow for VE and our Trustees!!!

    Reply
  5. JohnTulloch, Arrochar

    Exactly what has changed in the last three months to suddenly drag the project down from £20 million per year profit to the Shetland community to possibly “not viable,” today?

    Reply
  6. Sandy McMillan

    This is good news for the majority of Shetlanders, I have always had this feeling that the project was a no no from the start.
    Thanks must go to Sustainable Shetland for all there hard work over the years to have
    This stupidity stopped, so a to keep Shetland as it should be a natural and nature in abundance place to stay and visit.
    It will also keep out the Multi million pound rogue companies, and those few greedy guys who were going to make a fortune from these windfarms, Shetland will manage on it own without any outsiders getting involved

    Reply
  7. rosa steppanova

    For those with short memories: the first turbines to be removed were those on the Tresta scattald. According to VE, they had been scrapped for environmental reasons/because of concerns raised. Absolute poppycock. They were a non-starter because the landowner refused permission. The first of many VE lies.

    Reply
  8. Johan Adamson

    All they can see is the profit. Not the future costs of dismantling the farms or the costs in terms of lost tourism and social costs to Shetlanders in terms of bad neighbours, health and the environmental damage. I think we can make as much money selling our unique wild space to the wider world – uncluttered space is more and more scarce in the world.

    Good news that VE is not viable. Is it too early for a hop and a skip?

    Additionally, I live next to Burradale and have to say that that causes me no problems at all, but the VE farm is too big and too greedy with no benefits to the community at all, just maybe a long time in the future some more money in SCT for people to fight over and spend on the wrong things.

    Reply
  9. David Spence

    and yet again, it is the small-minded, greed orientated capitalist’s that do not give a damn about the environment, eco-systems and the overall impact to the community as long as ‘ they ‘ make their money and profits.

    Before anybody says it and goes on about socialist values against capitalism and all that, try thinking of looking at the whole picture instead of the part which interests you…….as capitalists think.

    You only have to look at the figures to realize that ‘ capitalism is ‘ the destroyer of the environment, eco-systems and, in many cases, the destroyer of lives ‘………profit at any cost, even if it involves human life.

    Reply
  10. ian tinkler

    Just consider this. The ten million pounds of Trust Funds just so wasted on Viking Energy could have been used to guarantee bank loans against small scale domestic turbines for perhaps every Croft on Shetland. The excess power being used to supplement the local grid. This was suggested years ago but completely ignored. What a total waste. Have any VE sycophants, VE supporters and assorted fools got the guts to apologies to and for their stupidity, insulting comments and abuse thrown at anyone who dared to opposed Viking Energy and this exercise in community greed.

    Reply

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