The partners looking to build Shetland’s first wave power scheme are set to “ramp up” public consultation and environmental research off the south west mainland.
Swedish energy giant Vattenfall and Edinburgh-based Pelamis Wave Power will outline its plans for 2013 at a meeting with the SIC and Shetland Charitable Trust on Tuesday. It is hoped a planning application for the 10 MegaWatt Aegir wave farm will be ready by 2015.
Next year’s programme of work will include increased environmental surveys, navigation risk and fishing impact assessments.
Vattenfall, Pelamis and the SIC will also focus on the likely vessel and maintenance activities that could be performed from Shetland, which will determine the likely quantity of local jobs and economic benefits.
At tomorrow’s meeting, the partners will review progress one year on from the signing of a “groundbreaking” partnership to consider development of ocean energy projects around the islands. Also under discussion will be the lessons learnt from the early stages of planning and investigating the project.
The agreement between the council, trust and Vattenfall is limited to co-operating and sharing information as the Swedish company seeks to establish the wave farm.
But Vattenfall has talked about the possibility of co-investing with the Shetland community on subsequent wave farms if its initial development is a success. Once the 10MW wave farm, using between 10 and 12 Pelamis machines, has been installed, Vattenfall wants to bolster production up to 40MW and then to 100MW or more beyond 2023.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, SIC development committee chairman Alastair Cooper said: “Although it is still at an early stage, we can see that the experience from the first pilot project will inform our strategy in respect of marine renewables, to maximise the economic and social benefits of Shetland’s sizeable ocean energy potential for the whole Shetland Islands community.”
Charitable trust chairman Drew Ratter said he remained keen that Shetland could benefit from the research and development which offshore renewables can bring: “Once we have an interconnector to the national grid, it will be critical that offshore development in Shetland waters is well advanced,” he said.
Vatenfall’s Jörgen Josefsson, also a board member of Aegir, said: “We are very pleased with the progress of investigations into the Aegir project to date, not least by local organisations like NAFC. Now we can look forward to next year’s work, when the planning will broaden out to consider implications for the environment, other sea users and local public opinions.”
Highlands and Islands Enterprise’s acting area manager Rachel Hunter said she hoped there would be a “greater level of dialogue” with islanders and groups in Shetland as the design of the Aegir wave farm becomes more clearly defined.
“During 2013 we expect to help the Aegir team with this consultation, so that we can maximise learning and benefits.”