Sounding Off – Drew Ratter on the future of Viking Energy

The future of Viking Energy and, indeed renewable energy in Shetland, deserves serious debate and consideration. I am concerned that nobody but a few partisans is actually reading any of the stuff about Viking Energy any more. Which is regrettable, if understandable. Just the same, I feel I have to have one more public try at being as forensic and factual as I can be.

Drew Ratter.

Drew Ratter.

For the future of the Shetland community, Viking Energy is very important. From my own position as investments chairman at Shetland Charitable Trust, it is likewise. I need to understand the business model for the windfarm as well as I can, so I can make recommendations to trustees in whichI have confidence. So I urge people who are tempted simply to switch off to consider some facts.

First, it cannot be described as a rash venture into which the council and the SCT have plunged, unthinking. We have taken the best advice available since day one, and I have been involved since day one, although with a gap in the middle. The project has backing, as a business venture, from Scottish & Southern Energy. SSE is probably the most successful of the generating and supply companies in Scotland, demonstrated by its strong share price and continuing independence.

Secondly, Viking has a strong management team and an excellent board of directors. The chairman, Alan Bryce’s, track record includes periods as managing director of energy generation and managing director of energy networks at Scottish Power. Joe Philipsz has had a very senior career in project finance, and Elsbeth Johnson has worked at senior corporate level, and also in banking and finance. I talk with them regularly, and trust them completely.

The need for an inter-connector cable has, oddly, been described as “a pipe dream”. This, of course, is not correct. It is Scottish government and UK government policy to get this essential submarine cable laid. It is also part of Shetland’s Community Plan, unanimously adopted by the council. That commits the SIC and its partners to “lobby National Grid to install [a] 650MW (or larger) interconnector by 2018″.

Section 4.2 of the council’s Economic Development Plan, approved on 12th March this year by the Development Committee, commits the SIC to “support local efforts to establish an interconnector between Shetland and the UK mainland”. The reference is online at http://bit.ly/1q7YmpO
There are very strong reasons for doing so, not least the fact that the UK consumer currently pays over £20 million per annum to subsidise Shetland’s electricity, generated using oil and gas, and contributing to a situation where our carbon footprint, per head, is comparable with that of Texas.

Further, there is a total commitment by the council and its partners to development and growth in the private economy in Shetland. One obvious area is renewables, and that is pretty well stuck unless power can go onto the grid. That can only happen with a bigger grid, as the Shetland one is full. Opposition to a cable connecting us to that grid conflicts with all our green and climate change objectives, both local, Scottish, and UK-wide.

Let us us be clear: the likelihood that a large Shetland wind farm, connected to the UK mainland, will be built is extremely high. The granting of planning consent by the Scottish government has now received a vote of confidence from the most senior of Scottish judges. That will stand.

It is worthy of note that the Scottish government’s consent for the project covered all possible impacts, including the environment, health matters and socio-economic benefits. The consent was subsequently subjected to legal challenge. At no point during that legal challenge was there any suggestion of a detrimental impact on people’s health in Shetland. In a situation where real evidence was required to back up (internet trawled) hypothesis, no argument was made, whatsoever, on a possible detrimental effect on the Shetland public’s health.

A decision has recently been taken on phase one of the necessary cabling between Shetland and the UK customer, across the Moray Firth. That will be built with the electricity regulator, Ofgem’s, blessing.

So, at a time when large scale onshore wind power is becoming one of the cheaper forms of electricity generation, the Viking windfarm has been subjected to very close financial, technical and environmental scrutiny, and has the confidence of expert opinion generally. Proof of this is that a very large company, SSE, has invested in Viking and has continued to support it throughout the provocative antics of Sustainable Shetland.

Shetland Charitable Trust SignThe only possible scalp that the local antis could claim, is that of Shetland Charitable Trust, if somehow the trust is forced out. SCT is a small organisation, well run, but with limited resources. Trustees remain convinced of the merit of the investment in the wind farm development budget, taken almost unanimously by SCT when it consisted almost entirely of councillors with new or refreshed mandates.

The trust will continue down the road it has chosen, but having to deal with an unanticipated judicial review, and now with an appeal which seems to have no hope of success, only of causing further delay, does not make life easy, in an environment where daily there are new demands on trust disbursements. SCT will work hard to harvest the guaranteed, government-backed profits from the project. But, if trustees were forced to dilute or abandon the investment in Viking, those profits will go elsewhere, and that elsewhere will be outwith Shetland.

Another publicly expressed nonsense is that it was the prospect of Viking Energy profits that encouraged councillors to continue overspending. I have been a member of every council since 1994, bar 2007-2012, and such a notion has never been mooted in my presence. Councillors overspent because everything they started, with community acclaim usually, went on to grow unchecked. It was bad control systems, and a genuine desire, by all involved, to do the best they could for Shetland, as well as an understandable desire to be re-elected (imagine if you went against your local leisure centre, in the face of everybody else getting one) that did the damage.

In any event, a decision at the end of 2007 meant the community shareholding in Viking Energy, which I remind everybody is the biggest community stake in a renewable project in this country and far beyond, was transferred to Shetland Charitable Trust. That body, of which I am a trustee, and for which I speak on investments, currently puts some £11million per annum into support of activities for the Shetland population. Trustees are currently aware that that is too much, and will probably have to be cut by about £2million. That will have an impact and, in an era of a declining public sector, an even greater one than it might once have had.

An unjustified notion which seems to have gained currency, and which I need to address, is about “proportionality in charitable investments” i.e. what proportion of its funds is a charity allowed to invest in any one thing. As things stand at the moment, there have been no discussions of any kind with the Office of the Scottish Charities Regulator (OSCR) about investments, and neither OSCR nor the trust has sought any such discussions. If the trust needs to discuss some matter with OSCR, we will do so. This figure of a 20 per cent limit in any one investment was even alluded to on Radio Shetland, and I can only assume it has its origins in malicious rumour.

I have to say personally that I am shocked by this latest attack in the “war” on the Shetland people’s charitable trust, which Sustainable Shetland has mounted in the face of one of the clearest legal decisions ever written. I had hoped for better from them, but I consider that the right outcome for the Shetland Charitable Trust, and for the Shetland community, is something we must fight for with all means available.

30 comments

  1. John Tulloch

    Drew,

    You say,

    “So, at a time when large scale onshore wind power is becoming one of the cheaper forms of electricity generation……..”

    Sorry, Drew, that is untrue.

    Mainland onshore electricity generation is roughly twice the price of coal or gas-generated electricity and with the recently agreed “Island Strike Price” for renewable energy which will be be paid to Viking Energy, it is nearer three times the price.

    I’m surprised you, as “investments chairman at Shetland Charitable Trust” are unaware of that?

    Reply
  2. David Spence

    I am of the opinion that such a project as Viking Energy will create a massive hole in the budget and monies the CT. Like many other large building projects, the estimated cost in comparison to the actual finished cost will be vastly different, and this additional cost will, I feel, cause major financial and future investment problems for the CT.

    Even if the main Government helps to finance the cost of an Interconnector Cable from Shetland to mainland Scotland. The cost of the VEP in terms of the constructed infrastructure (roads, cables etc) and the wind turbines will, I fear, have an overall detrimental affect to the CT and to the economy of Shetland. Funding for such a project will vastly increase to the level where the people of Shetland, quite rightly, will question the viability of such a project and the fact that future investments by the CT will be seriously curtailed due to the CT taking such a high risk in the VEP.

    As well as the CT taking a high risk with the VEP, one has to question whether this project is a sound investment given the very low percentage return for the CT, compared to the initial overall cost.

    Given such evidence, I would hope that the people of Shetland demand that a public enquiry take place in regards to the CT using so much of its funds on the VEP. In essence, the projected costs of the VEP and the return for the CT, does give the impression that such a project is not a viable proposition either for the CT or the people of Shetland.

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  3. Suzy Jolly

    Do you seriously expect people to believe the SCT when it only publishes part of the valuation report prepared by Quayle Munro? That’s incredibly bad form. I expect better from the SCT.

    The SCT is meant to act in our best interests; it isn’t doing.

    “Let us us be clear: the likelihood that a large Shetland wind farm, connected to the UK mainland, will be built is extremely high. The granting of planning consent by the Scottish government has now received a vote of confidence from the most senior of Scottish judges. That will stand.”

    You DON’T KNOW it will stand. Don’t dictate to me. Don’t patronise me.

    Want to prove that you are worthy of office? Call a referendum on the wind farm and let the Shetland public decide once and for all. You won’t? Please resign.

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  4. John Tulloch

    Drew, from your article:

    “Let us us be clear: the likelihood that a large Shetland wind farm, connected to the UK mainland, will be built is extremely high. The granting of planning consent by the Scottish government has now received a vote of confidence from the most senior of Scottish judges. That will stand.”

    Let us be clear, Drew:

    The “granting of planning consent by the Scottish government” means only that planning consent has been granted by the Scottish government. It does not imply
    that the UK will pay for a submarine cable to connect Shetland to the national grid.

    Without a submarine cable there will be no Viking Energy wind farm.

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  5. David Spence

    I would like to know if Mr Ratter can present accurate figures for the VEP itself, including the cost of laying an Inter-connector Cable(s) on the seabed from Shetland to mainland Scotland.

    One would presume, like most engineering projects, an extensive survey of the seabed would have to be carried out before any cable was being laid, the cost of this survey, the cost of any work, if possible, being done to the seabed in preparation for the cable (whether by remote machinery or by divers) the cost of the shipping vessel used to lay the cable, the projected maintenance costs to the cable per year, the cost of how many cables will be used (I presume there would be a backup system incorporated?) and finally, who will footing the bill for the maintenance of these cables after they have been installed within the VEP? Will it be Viking Energy or the Tax Payer or worse still, the people of Shetland via the CT?

    So Drew, please can you provide this information and give the people of Shetland a clearer picture of what finances are involved within the VEP and this of the Interconnector Cable(s).

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  6. Trevor Gray

    I was most interested to learn (paragraph 13) that “SCT will work hard to harvest the guaranteed, government-backed profits from the project”.

    It was news to me that this promised deluge of cash for Shetland was guaranteed and government backed, since this presumably also means that the project is risk free, in which case I’m rather surprised this fact doesn’t feature more in discussion.

    I’m also not quite sure why, if the profit is guaranteed, that the SCT needs to “work hard” to harvest it?

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  7. Evelyn Morrison

    It is interesting that in this entire article not a mention has been made about the health impact to individuals who will be living in the windfarm. Dr Sarah Taylor reported ‘there is evidence that windfarms do directly affect the health of some people living close to them’. There is now worldwide evidence of severe health issues.
    Why have Drew Ratter, Viking Energy and all the windfarm supporters chosen to ignore this?

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  8. Alan Skinner

    I am on the record as supporting the Viking Energy project. However, I am also on the record as doubting the wisdom of the investment for Shetland Charitable Trust because of the concentration of risk in a single private equity investment. The last time I looked SCT had approximately £200m of assets. Can Mr Ratter,as Investments Chairman of Shetland Charitable Trust, tell me what percentage of that £200m will be exposed to Viking Energy at the peak of its investment? I suspect the number is more than 35%, and may be even higher.
    I very much doubt whether OSCR has an arbitrary limit of 20% because they rely on the prudence of trustees to ensure sensible risk. I question whether prudence is being demonstrated here. In my years as CEO of various trust businesses around the world, I have never come across such maniacal zeal in a single private equity investment. Mr Ratter says that SCT has had the best advice available since day one. Please give us evidence of that advice. The only thing I have seen is a non-independent valuation by Quayle Munro, who were acting for SSE.
    The doubters might be convinced by the sale of a small proportion – say 10% – of SCT’s current holding, at a price which would demonstrate the market’s faith in this investment, rather than just the faith of a few councillor trustees.

    Alan Skinner
    New House
    Cullivoe

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  9. Stewart Mac

    This saga which has run and run is nearing the end, with BOTH sides, in my view, being economical with the truth on occasion (sorry SuS, just my opinion).

    However, here’s a thought, over the past few weeks we have seen one Councillor after the other step up and claim that the road to riches is to follow the VE path…. Well Cllrs Ratter, Wills and Wishart, as well as any others that want to jump up to the plate, instead of putting Shetlands money on the line, why not do it yourself? – Why not put your money where your (Collective) mouths are, just as SuS have done….. If you expect Shetland to believe some of the (at best) nonsense do it – Accept Personal liability in the event of it all going horribly wrong – let us see if you have the courage of your convictions as posted on these pages. Oh I wouldn’t expect you to do it for nothing, it would be in exchange for a (collective) 10% share of the profits, after all if VE “comes in” as we are all repeatedly told it will do, even a 10% share of the SCT investment between you would make you all likely Gazillionaires before bedtime and the 90% left to SCT will make the roads paved with gold forever more and Shetlanders using £50 notes to spark up the rayburn wont it?

    Now please, Councillors and Trustees, please form an orderly queue……..as you all run to the hills!

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  10. David Spence

    Alan, I presume the SCT 20% investment in the VEP also includes the cost of the Interconnector Cable which, by all accounts, may cost more than the turbines and infrastruture for these wind turbines?

    Correct me if I am wrong, but I am of the understanding that the Scottish Office refused to fund an Interconnector Cable from the N/W Scotland to the Hebrides as the cost of such a venture was far too high. The cost, I believe, was over £700 million? If this is the case, then, as a very rough estimate, the distance from Shetland to mainland Scotland is 3 times the distance from N/W Scotland to the Hebrides. Taking this into consideration, one would estimate the cost of the Interconnector Cable to be around the £2 billion mark? If you include the cost of the wind turbines plus the infrastructure (road, fencing and cable) for each individual turbine, one should add, roughly, another £1 billion onto the cost of the Interconnector Cable.

    If this is a rough estimate, then 20% of £3 billion is around £600 million……..which exceeds what funds the SCT has.

    Until Mr Ratter can give more accurate figures on the VEP plus the cost of installing an Interconnector Cable then speculation and questioning the viability of such a project, not to mention the immense damage it could cause to the SCT and future investments within Shetland, will put greater doubt of VEP by the population of Shetland that such an high risk venture will not even get off the ground to start with.

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  11. Sandy McMillan

    Does any one know where the money is coming from to finance Viking Energy, as they dont have a black penny of income, other than the rent from the Sullom Voe Terminal, They must be looking into the future to see what they get from the Gas Terminal, If they do get this will leave Shetland on the bone of its A–E once again.

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  12. Bert Morrison

    “So, at a time when large scale onshore wind power is becoming one of the cheaper forms of electricity generation”. Exactly – on July 22 2014 the Danish Government announced that onshore wind power is now cheapest form of energy in Denmark. A new analysis from the government of Denmark found that wind power is by far the cheapest new form of electricity in the country. New onshore wind plants coming online in 2016 will provide energy for about half the price of coal and natural gas plants. Denmark are not daft, they are progressively working towards what will be inevitable for all mankind eventually – a world of renewable energy. Maybe John Tulloch would rather the western world relies on a stable gas supply from Russia and the Middle East for the long term, it seems the Danes beg to differ.

    So folks, do we believe the Danish Government and the credible expertise behind the Viking Energy project or do we believe the financial predictions of those vocal few who are opposed to the wind farm and are using any and every angle to fight it?

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    • John Tulloch

      Bert,

      This is wonderful news because it means we, as the people who pay the bills, can look forward to the price paid for wind power in the UK to fall from £90/MWh to less than the £45/MWh we currently pay for coal/gas-generated electricity?

      Or is it yet more “smoke and mirrors” from the pro-Viking lobby?

      Reply
    • John Tulloch

      Bert,

      I see an internet report that the Danish government claims onshore wind costs just over £30/MWh (c.300DKK/MWh)

      Is that correct?

      If so, then why are we paying £90/MWh to wind speculators In this country?

      And why are we going to pay £115/MWh for electricity from Viking Energy?

      At those rates, why can’t they afford to install their own submarine cable?

      Then “Our Islands, Our Future” could go back to the Scottish and UK governments and talk about control of the seas and sea bed, instead of begging for submarine cables?

      Or, perhaps, they could talk about installing road tunnels to the isles?

      Have you read the Danish study you referred to, if so, you’ll presumably be able to direct me to where I can get a copy of it?

      Reply
  13. Evelyn Morrison

    Just to correct Mr Ratter, the reason no argument was raised on the health impact at the legal challenge was because, as I understand it, legally this cannot be considered on a point of law. Many esteemed doctors and professors from around the world are providing evidence which is not ” ‘internet trawled’ hypothesis” (sic).
    As usual the windfarm supporters know better.

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  14. David Spence

    Bert, the massive problem with the VEP is not only the huge cost, but the potential damage it could cause to the SCT as well as Shetland. Is the VEP a financial investment? Well, based on my research and the associated costs connected to this technology, no, it is not a worthy investment. It will, more than likely, cripple the SCT as well as Shetland spending a fortune every year purely on the maintenance of such contraptions (wind turbines) that monies for more worthy causes will most definitely suffer as a consequence.

    Yes, you may have cheaper energy but at a cost to the destruction to the natural environment, eco-systems and create, especially with the amount of peat Shetland has, a unmeasurable amount of pollution with the release of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, hydrogen and methane due to the peat being disrupted by construction.

    As far as VEP is concerned, they don’t give a damn about the environment, their priority is purely based on greed and profits, and absolutely nothing else.

    Will Shetland itself benefit from such a project? The long and short answer is NO!!!

    Shetland is just being used as a cash cow for the dreaded shareholders of the VEP (I very much question whether the SCT is indeed acting in the best interests of the people of Shetland or is it just those people responsible for the SCT looking at it from the point of view of themselves getting the quick buck regardless to what the population of Shetland may think?)

    Yes, you may save the destruction of the environment one way, but you will most certainly destroy it by other methods and ways using this technology.

    Bert, don’t be fooled into thinking this project is going to benefit Shetland……it will not…….but it will benefit those people forcing this project who will individually benefit financially……..self, self, self in the driving force of the VEP.

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  15. Johan Adamson

    It is at best, however, a PR disaster for VE, is it not? If there had been proper public consultation and there had been anyone listening to and addressing the points made by the opposition to VE, we wouldnt be at this point today, would we? I think there was no other option left open to Sustainable Shetland. At least now they seem to have got your attention.

    Reply
    • John Tulloch

      Aye, so much for “moving heaven and earth” to address the concerns!

      Reply
  16. Kathy Greaves

    “The future of Viking Energy and, indeed renewable energy in Shetland, deserves serious debate and consideration”, says Drew Ratter. Well, who would not agree with that. However, seven years ago, the VE project was put to public consultation throughout these islands – apparently after the contract was signed and with no information given as to what was signed in our names. A majority of us was against the project in the form presented. So who is listening to or considering our opposition to it, and who cares? Our councillors? SCT trustees?

    Many consultations have taken place in recent years on: a new AHS, rural schools/education, library, VE, art venue, and so on, at a cost of £millions. What are they for if the voice of the people is not heard, if their opinions are disregarded?

    Kathy Greaves
    Scatness

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  17. John Tulloch

    Drew, quoting you from above:

    “Section 4.2 of the council’s Economic Development Plan, approved on 12th March this year by the Development Committee, commits the SIC to “support local efforts to establish an interconnector between Shetland and the UK mainland”.

    Our Islands, Our Future set out to gain increased local powers for the isles and has come back with virtually nothing, except it, mysteriously, becoming Scottish and UK government policy to provide an interconnector after discussions with OIOF in Edinburgh and London.

    Given that no control of the seas and sea bed around Shetland was achieved, it appears that this has been sacrificed in the negotiations in exchange for submarine cables which the two governments were falling over themselves to give, so that they could export their disagreeable “green” laundry to the remote Islands.

    Drew, you, yourself, reportedly “had a go” at a council meeting about OIOF “not playing the oil card”.

    SIC policy referred to above is to “support local efforts to gain an interconnector”, not to “sacrifice every other aspiration in order to get one”.

    Don’t you think OIOF over-stepped the limits of what is authorised by the Economic Development Plan?

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  18. James Mackenzie

    I rather think the time for debate should have begun much earlier. I have mentioned more than once in public the following extract from a briefing paper put before the Scottish Parliament in 2004:
    “Embedded energy generation is often used to power local networks, such as in Shetland, where, in the light of planned commercial renewable energy developments, and in the absence of an inter-connector cable to the mainland, embedded generation offers the only means of establishing new renewable energy schemes on the island. Examples of the opportunities that exist for embedded generation are renewable energy schemes which aim to meet the power requirements of schools, leisure centres, industrial estates, commercial premises or even single domestic properties. Such embedded generation systems can extract a higher return from the sale of electricity to their dedicated customers than from the sale of a limited amount of power to the Shetland grid…
    ”The construction of new embedded generators will necessitate a local upgrade of the distribution network. This process is not difficult technically, involving the ‘restringing’ or ‘reconductoring’ of wooden poles and/or the introduction of new distribution lines; it does however incur significant cost.”
    Sadly it never got an answer from any of those who apparently are so desperate to install a 650 MW (or larger) interconnector cable. It would have been good to compare the “significant costs” with those of an interconnector and Viking and other windfarms in Shetland. Maybe it’s still not too late to do so, even if the SIC has already committed itself so much to an interconnector, without due regard for planning policy.
    I wish also that pro-Viking commentators would use less emotive language such as “provocative antics”, taking scalps, declaring war on Shetland Charitable Trust and the interest of the people of Shetland, and so on. I am certain that Sustainable Shetland does not take its decisions lightly, frivolously or cynically, nor without carefully considered legal advice.
    Nor, I believe, is its intention to force the SCT to sell its share of Viking Energy Partnership. The attempt to ascribe such motives to SuS members is presumptuous, to say the least.
    Personally I am firmly of the opinion that far more costly economic factors than legal action are likely to determine the future of the wind industry in Shetland.

    Reply
    • Chris Bunyan

      James, you are slightly mischievous in the above quote, perhaps unintentionally. The Scottish Parliament report you mention was produced by its research department and the bulk of the extract you use above is in fact a quote from the Shetland Renewable Energy Forum in 2004. A reference acknowledged in the parliament report but omitted from your comment.

      The Shetland forum has, of course, warmly welcomed Viking Energy’s plans, commenting in 2012: “Of particular excitement to the renewable energy industry in Shetland is the realisation that our Islands will now become connected to the UK National Grid through the Scottish Mainland. This historical development cannot be overstated, since an interconnector between Shetland and the UK will make possible all kinds of renewable energy developments around Shetland, which bring new skills, jobs and income to the Islands whilst reducing our extreme reliance on imported fossil fuels.”

      Like the forum and James I also support the idea of so-called ‘embedded energy generation’, or ‘off-grid’ schemes, where schools, leisure centres, or housing schemes, for example, have their own renewable energy schemes. I see no conflict between developing these local schemes and developing commercial renewable energy in the islands.

      To quote the Shetland forum again: “The lack of a link to the UK National Grid and limitations within the existing local network are significant infrastructure constraints. There will be opportunities to develop renewable energy projects ‘off-grid’ but the attractiveness of Shetland as a location for investment is diminished without a grid connection.” (Action plan 2009).

      Reply
      • Laurence Paton

        Shetland shouldn’t need to import fossil fuels, there’s million’s of cubic metres of oil and gas just to the west of us.
        Perhaps you can give some approximate figures on how much less fossil fuel Lerwick power station has consumed thanks to wind power so far ?
        Or a figure for fossil fuel saved to date thanks to wind power UK wide ?
        Surely it is the best advertisment for green energy?
        And the other question I would like answered is why are they planning to replace our 60MW diesel fired power station with a 120 MW diesel fired power station along with building a 600MW wind farm ?
        Where is the saving in actual diesel consumed amongst that lot ?

  19. Rosa Steppanova

    Drew, in his Sounding Off, says: “First, it cannot be described as a rash venture into which the council and the SCT have plunged, unthinking. We have taken the best advice available since day one…”
    I believe Drew is referring to Rob Cormie, managing director of Quayle Munro, VE financial investment advisor to SCT. It is common knowledge that QM’s Scottish holdings went down the tubes in 2013, sold for the proud sum of precisely £1.00. If I were Drew, I would be somewhat hesitant to describe the advice received from a company that couldn’t keep its own financial house in order as ‘best’.
    |I run a small business and tend to check the credentials of my suppliers/advisors. I wonder if SCT did the same re. Mr. Cormie?
    On 18th November 2011 he gave an interview to BQ (Business Quarter Magazine for entrepreneur interviews and entrepreneurial news) in which he shares his views on checks and balances regarding financial markets: “I think governments and people should stop meddling”.
    He further states: “The people who are working on the trading floors are quant mathematicians who are seriously bright people. These are people who are trying to make serious money, not for some altruistic good.”
    “Hedge funds have made a spectacular amount of money – and are now picking on the weakest countries – but that’s their job.”
    As a Shetland citizen I’m an SCT “shareholder” and potential beneficiary. I am dismayed that SCT should take “advice” from somebody like Mr. Cormie, whom I consider a morally bankrupt individual. I would very much like to hear Drew’s view in this.

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  20. David Spence

    I may be wrong, but as far as I am aware, any economic relationship between private enterprise and Local Authority in regards to wind power generation and Local Authorities investing millions of tax payers money into such schemes has failed abysmally in terms of capital gains and of any benefit to the local community thereafter.

    This statistics is for all wind power schemes where Local Authority has been involved and where the benefits has been transferred to negative equity, want for a better description.

    On this appalling record, of a 100% failure, for this new industry, how can Viking Energy justify going ahead or thrusting this project without proper consultation with the people of Shetland and say ‘ It is a worthwhile investment and will benefit Shetland economically ‘. VEP the ball is in your court………….please answer the points made.

    Reply
    • John Tulloch

      David,

      Do you have a reference for this claim of 100 percent failure?

      Reply
  21. James Mackenzie

    Thanks to Chris Bunyan for pointing out the reference to SREF in the briefing paper, it was something I had honestly not noticed (I can’t access the document on-line anymore) – so mischief neither intended nor unintended!

    My understanding is that embedded electricity generation is not the same as ‘off-grid’. The 2004 briefing paper says: ”The construction of new embedded generators will necessitate a local upgrade of the distribution network”, while the SREF statement of 2009 quoted by Chris mentions “limitations within the existing local network”. Embedded generation therefore appears to have been dropped as an option.

    What I am extremely concerned about is the price that will have to be paid for an interconnector (and Chris has called for more than one, while the SIC is apparently committed to lobby for a 650 MW cable or larger, and both UK and Scottish governments envisage more onshore windfarms in Shetland.) It is obvious now that the Viking Windfarm is only the beginning…

    The price is not just economic, but environmental and social.

    This is what the Windfarm Supporters Group, of which Chris is a spokesperson, website says about “leisure tourism”:

    “With regard to leisure visitors, it will depend on how much gloom and doom we surround ourselves with. If we give the impression that our magnificant [sic] island landscape is ruined and our world class wildlife is dying then, yes, fewer people will come to visit.

    “On the other hand, if we proudly discuss our contribution as a small “nation” to reducing the contributory factors to global warming, what some might describe as our disproportionate sacrifice, then maybe people will want to come and see conservation in action in a big way. Be Loud, Be Proud?

    “…Then there’s the ‘Industrial Wasteland’ issue. The skyline will change, the Lang Kames will change, there will be roads through the hills where none previously existed. Each area will be affected, especially while construction is underway. But when construction is over the features which were once new will become commonplace. It’s a matter of taste.”

    Aside from questioning if industrial scale windfarms on peatlands can be described as “conservation in action in a big way”, I find it objectionable that the WSG is in effect speaking for those who would effectively be living in a windfarm and really do feel they are being asked to make a “disproportionate sacrifice”. And to describe the environmental and landscape impacts of such windfarms in Shetland as merely being a matter of taste beggars belief.

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  22. John Tulloch

    Argyll community councillor Christine Metcalfe recently successfully challenged the UK/Scottish government wind farm consultation processes under the UN’s Aarhus Convention. I saw a comment she made regarding Scottish Reporter Michael Cunliffe’s decision to reject the Barrel Law wind farm application, which I’ve copied below:

    “Christine Metcalfe says:
    August 30, 2014 at 6:45 pm
    This judgement deserves to be used and widely circulated – thanks to ForArgyll for helping to do that. For those wanting more real facts and access to issues related to wind power – visit http://www.windsofjustice.org.uk Amongst items available are Open Letters to DECC and the BMA. Adverse health impacts are now,thankfully, being given media attention and another doctor’s work and research involving water contamination from wind turbines can be found at
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQf0hLYXd7o

    http://forargyll.com/2014/08/scottish-government-reporter-rejects-wind-farm-scheme-on-widely-applicable-grounds/

    Reply
  23. David Spence

    Hello John, I have been searching through the Internet for the article in regards to the expenditure Local Authorities have invested into Wind Energy in proportion to the return from this investment, and how Local Authorities, especially in England and Wales, are questioning the viability of such technology and the constraints within it in terms of planning, public support and, most importantly, the agreed cost of electricity produced in proportion to what the markets are prepared to pay. In many cases, such projects are now proving to be not viable in terms of investment.

    http://www.scottishfuturestrust.org.uk/files/publications/Commercial_Aspects_Local_Authority_Renewable_Energy_Production_Main_Report.pdf

    Although the above report, in some ways, gives a positive feedback on Wind Energy Production, it also questions the viability of this technology in terms of various factors as well as the initial outlay and subsequent sustainment of this technology in terms of finances and the impact this has on the provision of other, some may say more important services, services and functions Local Authorities are compelled to undertake,

    I was reading an European Report on the overall investment within several European countries and how it is transpiring that many of the Wind Generating Projects are now in negative equity due to the higher cost of construction, the weather, public objections to such technology (planning issues) maintenance costs and environmental issues (carbon footprint) and the perception of producing free energy is very much a fallacy.

    Reply
  24. John Tulloch

    There’s a very informative article on the state of the Scottish renewable energy industry in the Argyll newsblog “For Argyll” with some interesting comments below it.

    http://forargyll.com/2014/09/robert-trythall-renewables-development-an-independent-scotland-will-be-dependent-on-ruk-subsidy-support/

    Reply

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