Both Scottish and UK governments have given fresh impetus to renewable energy developments in Shetland following a meeting of the Scottish Island Delivery Forum.
The event in Edinburgh was chaired jointly by Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Davey, and Scottish energy minister Fergus Ewing on Thursday.
The UK and Scottish Governments reaffirmed their continued support and joint endeavour towards delivering the huge renewable energy potential of the Scottish islands.
Viking Energy development manager Aaron Priest, who attended the meeting, said later:
“Yesterday’s meeting was very significant and both governments remain supportive of the development of world-class renewable energy resources in the islands.
“The Secretary of State provided a strong indication of how the UK government intends to roll out the separate island strike price for onshore wind and reiterated both governments’ commitment to overcome any barriers to electricity interconnectors to the islands.
“This is another important step for the delivery of substantial benefits to Shetland via the unique community ownership that exists in the Viking wind farm project.”
Mr Davey said Westminster would bring forward the setting of the minimum “strike” price from next year to July this year.
Westminster will apply to the European Union for state aid approval to allow a lower strike price for the isles to be introduced as soon as possible, allowing the Viking wind farm and other island-based renewable projects to progress to the next stage of putting together an investment package.
In addition, agreement was reached between the two Governments to continue joint efforts to progress a research and development funding proposal to secure future grid access for marine technologies on Orkney.
Scottish energy minister Fergus Ewing said: “Yesterday’s meeting of the Scottish Island Renewables Delivery Forum has secured the most significant progress for the islands since the Delivery Forum was established after my proposal in June 2014. I am delighted that the UK and Scottish Governments have agreed a joint statement of intent, and that the Secretary of State has committed to publishing important information in July on availability of support.
“This announcement will be a huge boost for developers, and of course for the island councils who have pushed hard to secure this commitment. It signals a clear demonstration of political will that the transmission owner and the regulator have stated is necessary to progress the case for the island grid links.
“I have made connecting the Scottish islands a top priority because of the enormous clean and affordable energy potential, but also because of the substantial opportunity for island communities to benefit. This is a significant step towards realising our joint ambitions and we will look to drive forward further progress through the Delivery Forum, which will convene again in the spring.”