It can hardly be a coincidence that Peel Energy has made its application to Scottish ministers for the Beaw Field Windfarm in the same week that Fergus Ewing has written to Amber Rudd (Yell-based turbine begins doing its bit towards supplying the isles grid, The Shetland Times 12th March).
He has urged her to fast-track the “offshore” islands permissions process, citing an updated Baringa report which shows the potential for 900MW of onshore wind (power to be exported from Shetland by 2030). http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0049/00495193.pdf.
In the report, Baringa’s low scenario for Shetland “has limited further investment in renewable generation, and no cable to the mainland is commissioned”.
The report states: “Our Central Scenario adopts the currently proposed cable, which is a 600MW HVDC link between Shetland and the Caithness coast, where it could join onto the proposed subsea cable to Moray. Under the central scenario this is projected to be commissioned in 2021.
“Planned renewable projects on Shetland are dominated by the Viking windfarm (370MW), though we understand that there is considerable interest in further projects. Following the guidance of the council, we assume that an additional 250MW capacity is commissioned under the central scenario.
“Under the high scenario we assume a more ambitious second round expansion of renewables in Shetland. We assume that this second round of expansion occurs in 2029. This comprises an additional 300MW cable link to the mainland, accompanied by a further 300MW of onshore wind capacity.”
What concerns Sustainable Shetland most, however, is that, according to one news report, along with Fergus Ewing “other Council leaders [sic]” have also written to Amber Rudd.
Does this include Gary Robinson? And has he thus willingly given SIC support to this 2030 vision which, to be blunt, treats Shetland as no more than a renewable energy platform in the North Sea?
If so, how does he think all this extra wind power will be accommodated in Shetland’s landscape (900MW could mean as many as 250 turbines of the type proposed for Viking Energy windfarm)?
What about cumulative effects? How will it fit in with any sensible planning policy? What effects on communities and the environment will there be?
These are questions we put to councillors last year, when most replied that the Viking Energy windfarm “ship had sailed” and that it was no business of theirs anymore. This in spite of us pointing out a potential Pandora’s box of windfarms and accompanying infrastructure in the isles. (https://www.shetlandtimes.co.uk/2015/03/24/fundamental-problem-frank-hay-and-james-mackenzie).
And if it is none of the council’s business, why is it now putting pressure on the UK government, and advising Baringa about additional generation?
Perhaps after all there is a hint of desperation that no decision has yet been made about the interconnector which would enable the Viking Energy windfarm – and Beaw Field and others – to be built. Indeed the needs case for the interconnector has yet to be submitted to Ofgem.
Meanwhile, the Competition & Markets Authority has just published a report proposing that generators in remote locations be liable for 100 per cent of the cost of their transmission losses, in order to reduce costs to consumers: “… our provisional conclusion is that introducing locational charging for transmission losses will reduce costs and be in the long-term interests of customers.
“We propose to implement the remedy by means of an order imposed on National Grid, as system operator, to calculate imbalance charges taking into account transmission losses calculated on a locational basis and according to which 100 per cent of losses would be borne by generators.” (https://www.gov.uk/…/news/cma-sets-out-energy-market-changes).
How this will affect the viability of potential Shetland windfarms remains to be seen, but surely it is not likely to be regarded as positive by developers.