Approval of the Viking Energy windfarm is vital if Shetland is to capitalise on the economic and job opportunities becoming available as national energy policy moves towards supporting areas with the best renewable resources.
That is the message from the economic development body the Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI), which has written to the Scottish government recommending that it give consent to the application.
David Richardson, SCDI Highlands and Islands manager, said the windfarm would produce up to 457MW and, as Shetland’s peak electricity demand is just over 50MW, a large surplus would be exported to the rest of the country. Shetland suppliers, meanwhile, could benefit by more than £2 million of new business each year. Mr Richardson said the windfarm was expected to generate £23 million per year and £930 million across its lifetime for the Shetland Charitable Trust.
Mr Richardson said: “Harnessing Scotland’s vast natural resources is an economic and environmental imperative, a once-in-a-generation investment opportunity which must be maximised for all of Scotland.
“The Scottish and UK governments have both established stretching targets for renewable electricity generation and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, and there is, in consequence, a new recognition of the need to support investment in wind energy generation which chooses to locate in the areas of the UK with the most favourable weather resources.
“Shetland is a prime location for an onshore windfarm, with a number of the most productive turbines anywhere in the world, and a very short carbon payback on projects. The long-term income generated by the Viking windfarm would also be reinvested to create economic, environmental, social and cultural benefits for Shetland, representing a unique opportunity to diversify the economy and address its long-term economic and demographic challenges.
“A development of this scale is also necessary to justify the case for a sub-sea inter-connector cable. This would, in due course, open up opportunities for all renewable energy technologies in Shetland and the north of Scotland, initially offshore wind, then wave and tidal energy. These would also be able to capitalise on the skills and supply chain which had been created and so the Viking windfarm would be the basis of a new industry on Shetland.
“The Viking windfarm will make a considerable contribution to Scotland’s renewable electricity and climate change targets, and significantly enhance Shetland’s economic and environmental prospects and reputation. SCDI, therefore, recommends that it is consented.”