By JOHN ROBERTSON
The Viking Energy Partnership has unveiled a large scale model of Shetland showing for the first time how its proposed windfarm sits on the landscape of the central and north Mainland.
The large display featuring the 150 turbines will be a focal point of the six public exhibitions about the project which start on Monday in Aith.
The 1:30,000 scale model is about the size of a small car and shows the final design for turbine sites after their number was cut from 192 two years ago to 154 and finally to 150.
Areas where turbines have been pruned from since the original design are around Voe and Collafirth (Delting) and Laxo, the east side of the Lang Kames, a ridge of hills near Aith and a ridge above Weisdale and Kergord. According to Viking Energy, the changes were largely to help screen turbines from view behind hills or to accommodate sensitive bird sites and flightpaths.
The three-dimensional polystyrene model of Shetland has been made at a cost of £10,000 by Omega Models of Kirkintilloch, who claim to be Scotland’s top modelmakers. There was not room to include Foula and Fair Isle. The team would like to find a place to keep it on show after the exhibitions, perhaps in an empty shop or public space.
The turbine columns and blades dotted on the model are thicker than if they were true to scale otherwise they would have been too thin to use, according to Viking Energy project officers David Thomson and Aaron Priest. To accurately represent the six-metre thick base of the turbine columns the models would have needed to be a mere 0.2 millimetres at their thickest.
A second model showing a larger scale of 1:2,000, which is due to go on show next week, will depict the size of the turbines exactly to scale. It homes in on the swathe of the Mainland around the turbines to give people a clearer impression of how the windfarm will look up close.
The public exhibitions are being held immediately before the Viking Energy Partnership applies for planning consent from the Scottish government and publishes its voluminous research into the windfarm’s potential impact on the environment, economy and local people. The government will consult about the project, through the SIC, before deciding if it can proceed.
Visitors to the exhibitions will be able to try out computer simulations of how the off-white turbines will look from their house and question representatives of the locally owned Viking Energy Limited and its partner Scottish and Southern Energy.
The Viking Energy Partnership is owned equally by Scottish and Southern Energy and Viking Energy Limited (VEL). VEL is owned 90 per cent by Shetland Charitable Trust and 10 per cent by Mr Thomson and three other local businessmen Angus Ward, Mr Thomson’s father Michael Thomson and Dennis Thomson, who are the four owners of Shetland Aerogenerators, operators of the successful Burradale Windfarm.
The exhibitions are from 2-8pm at: Aith Hall on Monday 23rd, Brae Hall on Wednesday 25th, South Nesting Hall on Friday 27th, Voe Hall on Wednesday 1st April, Whiteness & Weisdale Hall on Thursday 2nd and finishing up at Islesburgh Community Centre, Lerwick, on Friday 3rd.
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Public profit from Burradale
The public purse has made a handsome profit from supporting Shetland’s first commercial windfarm, which has paid off its backers years ahead of schedule.
Shetland Aerogenerators this week returned the final part of a £700,000 investment made by Shetland Development Trust to help create the £3.1 million Burradale Windfarm, near Lerwick. Since the investment in 2002 the company has paid a total of £1.03m to buy back all the trust’s £1 cumulative preference shares, rewarding the trust with a dividend of £330,000.
The windfarm’s success has allowed it to buy out the trust, its biggest investor, three years early. Last month Aerogenerators announced it had paid off its bank loans.
The five Vestas wind turbines above the Dale golf course were built in 2000 and 2002 and have become what the company claims is the most productive windfarm in the world. It can power up to 2,000 homes. Production goes into the Shetland power grid.
SIC vice-convener Josie Simpson, who is chairman of the economic development committee, said the investment demonstrated the potential for return on investments in renewable energies and it reinforced the council’s commitment to researching and developing such projects in Shetland.
Aerogenerators director Michael Thomson said the company would almost certainly have had to sell some of its ownership of Burradale outwith Shetland if it had not been for trust support. “We are pleased Shetland’s community funds have been able to share this success and the trust’s decade-long involvement in the wind energy business should give the confidence to consider bigger things now on the horizon.”