Oil in the East Shetland Basin feeding into Sullom Voe through the Brent and Ninian pipelines has been flowing for around 33 years now. The continued commercial viability of this largely down to an increased oil price and a leaner form of platform operation and management. Sullom Voe is getting a reprieve with the development of oil and gas west of Shetland. It has to be remembered that this, also like the east of Shetland, is a relatively short term addition to our economy.
My main concern for Shetland is what the future will hold for future generations, what will keep Shetland going as a sustainable and economically viable place? What will we keep their services going? If it came to pass, how would our population react to a large drop in opportunities and living standards? Shetland has seen lean times and mass emigration in the past, it would be tragic if it were allowed to go back to that when we had the opportunity to do something about it but chose not to.
Oil and gas is a finite resource – it will run out, but before it does the price is almost certain to escalate as demand outstrips supply. How will this affect our agricultural and fishing industry which is now heavily dependent on diesel?
Renewable energy is an opportunity for Shetland to secure its future and contribute significantly in the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. The subsea interconnector cable is essential if Shetland is to be able to develop its potential. The Viking Energy windfarm gives enough critical mass to allow the interconnector to be viable.
My personal view is that as time goes on and oil and gas run out, humanity will look more and more to renewable energy to provide electricity and convert water into hydrogen to fuel all the things that are currently fuelled by fossil fuels. The beauty of this is that when burned, hydrogen returns to water – no emissions whatsoever. Renewable energy is not just applicable to the next 25 years, it may well be for the rest of human existence unless science comes up with an alternative harmless energy source.
I am not oblivious to the concerns of people who are worried about the scale of Viking Energy; however on balance I think the positives outweigh the negatives. Yes it’s a big project but it needs to be to get the critical mass to justify linking into the national grid. Over time I’m sure the wind turbines will become an accepted and valued part of our island as people see the benefits they are providing. From this wave and tidal power can be developed. It has nothing to do with greed; it is all about securing the future for Shetland and its future generations.
In my personal opinion diversification, ambition and forward thinking will secure a viable and vibrant Shetland for future generations.
If like me you are concerned about the future in Shetland for those in the new generation and for future generations then please seriously consider giving your support to the Scottish Government’s energy consents unit by using the following form. It only takes a few minutes and gives positive support to a new brighter future for our islands: