Lerwick Power Station opened its doors to the public today, giving folk the chance to see what happens behind the scenes.
The event, which attracted visitors young and old, was the first open day since 1996.
Donning hard hats and stuffing in earplugs, there was the chance to see the huge electricity generators, control room and service vehicles.
Staff were also on hand to explain the different types of wiring used in Shetland, with some electricity cables in Lerwick still operating after 70 years.
The power station in Gremista is operated by Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution (SHEPD) and is owned by Scottish and Southern Electric.
With Shetland having no connection to the UK National Grid, the majority of electricity in the isles is provided by the power station.
Visitors were allowed to explore the two parts of LPS – the ‘A’ and ‘B’ stations.
Opened in 1953, A station has six diesel engines and generators which run on medium fuel oil. Generators there date back to the 1970s.
Fuel is brought in from Denmark and from Peterson SBS. Some engines have clocked up more than 100,000 running hours.
Generator three for example, commissioned in 1973, has notched up 107,445 hours, using diesel and medium fuel oil. It consumes 1,000 litres per hour and has used 107,445,000 litres.
Shetland operations manager Darren Hitchin said about 25,000 tonnes of fuel per year is imported.
The larger B station was built in 1983 with two 8MW engines and a 12MW engine installed in 1994 – all three run on heavy fuel oil.
A normal house uses about 10 kilowatts, said Mr Hitchin with the two engines having a maximum output of 8,000 kilowatts each.
B station was more efficient, he added, and has waste heat boilers which in turn run a 2.1MW turbine.
The total output of the station is about 67MW and at any one time, the A and B stations cover about 60 per cent of Shetland’s demands.
The rest is made up from the power station at Sullom Voe and Burradale Windfarm.
The station has generated more than a million hours of electricity for Shetland to date.
B station was the “main work horse for power in Shetland,” said Mr Hitchin. A station is used as a top up and renewable power fed in when available.
Meanwhile a proposed new power station for Shetland to be built near Rova Head is still on hold.
A proposal was made by SHEPD last year, which included a “dual fuel” power station – using light fuel initially, but it could use natural gas from Sullom Voe. It also included how the station would work with the Northern Isles New Energy Solutions (NINES) project and renewable energy generation in Shetland.
Both the SIC and the Scottish government backed the plans, with the Scottish government granting planning consent for the £200 million replacement in August. The plant would have a generating capacity of up to 120MW.
Ofgem has asked SHEPD to carry out a public consultation, followed by an open and competitive process to make sure the lowest cost and most efficient solution is found.
SHEPD spokesman Gavin Steel said a consultation will be held “in the next couple of months” – with the public being given the chance to put forward their views on energy solutions for Shetland.
“People [should] look out for details, probably just the other side of the October break,” said Mr Steel
There was also an opportunity for companies in Shetland and further afield to give their feedback.
“Because Ofgem want the process to be as open as possible we certainly won’t be prescribing any options in the consultation,” he added.
“We will be talking about what’s needed, and trying to define a process that makes sure that whatever technology emerges, it can meet the expectations of our customers in Shetland, and provide a secure supply of electricity, whilst giving the best possible value to consumers.”
Previously SHEPD had proposed that the current plant would close in 2017, as part of its integrated plan.
Electricity generation as a whole on the site was coming towards the end of its operational life, said Mr Steel.
But because of this extra process, closure was “likely to be a bit later than that”.
“When we come to the consultation, the timescale on which we anticipate we can move forward now will be part of that,” he said.
“We will be looking to move forward as soon as we can.”
Staff were working to make sure the site served Shetland for as long as it needed to, he said.
“Ofgem and ourselves are working together to prepare this consultation.
“We are both committed to identifying a solution that can be delivered and working closely together to achieve that.”