Viking Energy and MP both welcome prospect of ‘fair treatment’ for isles renewables

Viking Energy chairman Alan Bryce.
Viking Energy chairman Alan Bryce said isles were “one step closer to building best onshore windfarm in the world”.

Windfarm developer Viking Energy has hailed news that the UK government is to give renewables developers in the isles “fair treatment” on pricing.

The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) today announced draft “strike” prices for country-wide renewable technologies. It confirmed that work had started on a special price for islands including Shetland and Orkney.

DECC’s statement outlines a December timetable for delivering a “differential strike price” for islands renewables where there are “clearly distinct characteristics to typical mainland projects”.

Viking Energy head of development Aaron Priest said the news “vindicates the concerted efforts over several years by many to ensure the viability of renewables projects in the Scottish islands and the economic benefits they undoubtedly bring”.

Last month Viking’s chairman Alan Bryce had admitted the 103-turbine windfarm was “not viable” under present charges and subsidy levels, but said he was confident the UK government would introduce measures to change that. Transmission charges are also being examined.

“This is excellent news for Viking and for Shetland,” Mr Priest said. “We look forward to the next step, which will quantify the exact level of these long-term enhancements for the Scottish islands, and Shetland in particular. We welcome this clear signal that the investment barriers identified by government will be removed.”

Ed Davey talking to Brae High School pupils in September.
Energy minister Ed Davey addressing Brae High School pupils last October.

Viking Energy hopes the 103 turbines, located in central areas of the Mainland including the Lang Kames, can begin exporting power in late 2018.

Mr Bryce said Shetland was “one significant step closer to building what we expect will be the best onshore windfarm in the world”. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to diversify the local economy and boost income to the Shetland Charitable Trust greatly for decades to come.”

Mr Carmichael said he had “long argued in opposition and in government that an arrangement of this sort is necessary”. Yesterday’s announcement served to confirm that government now accepted that principle, he said.

“Ultimately the crucial decision will be what level of subsidy is to be set for the isles,” Mr Carmichael said. “It needs to be high enough to overcome the extra costs of transmission charging or else the potential development of renewables will never happen.”

He paid “great credit” to fellow Liberal Democrat Ed Davey who, as energy and climate change minister, visited Shetland in 2012.

Mr Carmichael said: “[He] has been the first minister to listen to the community and developers here and to act on what he is told. I shall continue to work in government closely with him to ensure that the detail as well as the principle is right.”

Mr Davey faced criticism for not meeting windfarm opponents Sustainable Shetland during last October’s trip.

Its judicial review into the Scottish Government’s decision to approve the project concluded at the Court of Session in Edinburgh last Friday.

Viking opponents Sustainable Shetland are waiting to hear whether their legal challenge has been successful.
Viking opponents Sustainable Shetland are waiting to hear whether their legal challenge has been successful.

Judge  Lady Clark of Calton is now considering herverdict, though a final decision is not expected for weeks, or possibly even months. The decision could also be subject to appeals from the government or Viking’s opponents.

Sustainable Shetland’s legal case centres on a belief that energy minister Fergus Ewing failed to meet the government’s responsibilities under the EU birds directive, due to fears over the project’s impact on the whimbrel, a migratory wading bird.


Add Your Comment
  • John Tulloch

    • June 27th, 2013 14:31

    Ed Davey told the Scottish Parliamentary Inquiry into the Scottish government’s renewable energy targets that an independent Scotland would have to foot the bill for its own renewable energy subsidies.

    Does this latest decision mean the UK government has reversed its policy on post-independence renewable energy subsidies and that, contrary to earlier statements, the present integrated UK grid system will be maintained?

    Or do we have to stay with the UK to get this deal?

  • Robert Sim

    • June 28th, 2013 0:07

    John Tulloch raises an interesting point. I guess it is all ultimately speculation – including what politicians say – but I am willing to bet that any London government post- Scottish independence will see the Scottish contribution to renewables as too important and convenient to discard in favour of green power from elsewhere in Europe. That makes it more likely that a deal will be struck over any subsidy established pre-independence. But then I am a born optimist…

    Also just thinking that the fact that you live in Arrochar, John, means that you have evidence right beside you and more widely in Argyll of another type of renewable energy scheme, ie the hydro schemes at Sloy, Awe etc. They are relatively non-instrusive in terms of the environmment and have a long track record of contributing to green power without subsidies which make development at all costs the main objective.

  • John Tulloch

    • June 28th, 2013 10:38

    Today’s news from the British Geological Society that England has one of the largest shale gas resources in the world and the suggestion that DECC have done a deal with Osborne to get out of the way of development in exchange for letting Ed Davey subsidise some hideously expensive nuclear power isn’t reassuring for the future of renewable energy.

    It’s reasonable to speculate there may be some kind of accommodation for Scottish renewable energy negotiable as part of the practical implementation of independence which of course would cost Scotland in other areas in which the Scottish government would have to compromise to get the deal done.

    But I wouldn’t bet my house on it as SCT are proposing to do.

  • Donnie Morrison

    • June 28th, 2013 11:04

    So Carmichael has announced that Davey listened to the community.
    What section of the community was that? Carmichael must realise that a large section of the community are unrepresented by either him or Scott.
    The article headline says it all

  • John Tulloch

    • June 28th, 2013 12:25

    Ed Davey will be well-advised to keep an eye on what our Norwegian friends are achieving with thorium-based nuclear power before diving in to promise huge subsidies to companies owned by the French State.

    Thorium power is safe, doesn’t readily lend itself to bomb-making and there’s apparently enough fuel available to power the world for 10,000 years.

    More info on this fascinating link:

  • David Spence

    • June 28th, 2013 15:16

    I was reading an article some time ago about renewable energy and the cost this will have on the environment and eco-systems. The article also pointed out that our sadly deceased science fiction writer Arthur C. Clark commented ‘ The only way humans are going to sustain and increase energy demand without destroying the environment and associated eco-systems is to go Nuclear ‘. All other forms of ‘ green energy ‘ come nowhere even close to the present day demand without causing catastrophic environmental damage. ‘. So, yes, we may save the environment in one way, but we will equally cause as much damage too it in another way.

  • John Tulloch

    • June 28th, 2013 17:35

    Exactly, David. And I wouldn’t think he was referring to the dangerous conventional type of nuclear which produces large amounts of waste that will remain toxic, effectively, for ever.

    Thorium reactors can actually use conventional nuclear waste converting it to a safer, greatly reduced quantity while producing power from it.

    With no safety worries, much less waste, scaleability, no nuclear bomb proliferation worries and abundant fuel, thorium power plants should be much cheaper to build and run than the conventional ones Ed Davey wants French state utility EDF to build in this country.

    Britain has its own cutting edge thorium reactor technology with a revolutionary cancer treatment by-product which inexplicably struggles to get funding – yet another spectacular failure by DECC who until today have been sitting on the truth that Britain has one of the biggest shale gas resources in the world.

    Sitting on it, doing everything it could to frustrate development, while fuel prices – and poverty – have soared.

    Ed Davey’s Lib Dem pals, Mr Carmichael and “climate spokesman” Tavish Scott have been party to all this.


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