THE COMPANY behind Shetland’s giant proposed windfarm says its case has been boosted by a study showing the polluting effects of digging peat and constructing turbines can be cancelled out by their green power in less than three years.
However, anti-windfarm campaigners said even this best-case scenario for carbon payback times was longer than SIC-controlled Viking Energy had been claiming for its planned windfarm.
Billy Fox of Sustainable Shetland said the real question to be asked is: Can we afford to build on blanket peat bog when there are other alternatives available?
The report on peat by The Macaulay Institute and Aberdeen University was commissioned by the Scottish government.
Viking Energy chairman Bill Manson predicted the Shetland windfarm would have a particularly fast carbon payback time because it would meet the highest good practice standards for pollution prevention and produce a high output of energy from the windy climate.
The industry trade body Scottish Renewables said the research “blows away” the claim by anti-windfarm groups that they cannot be built without releasing masses of carbon. It also condemned calls for a moratorium on windfarms in peatland areas.
In a provocative comment Scottish Renewables’ chief executive Jason Ormiston said: “It’s time to move away from the myths that perpetuate the debate around windfarms and continue the dialogue with real environmentalists about how, not if we should develop windfarms on peatland areas.”
Local anti-windfarm campaigner Paul Featherstone accused Viking Energy of cherry-picking the best parts of the report rather than mentioning the other carbon payback scenarios of 16 years and 32.5 years for windfarms in areas of deeper peat, which he said was more like those which exist in Shetland.