Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission is to hold a public consultation on its plans to build an interconnector cable between Weisdale Voe and Caithness to connect Shetland renewable projects to the national grid.
The pre-application consultation is advertised for the Mareel arts centre on 23rd August. SHE Transmission plans to install the 257-kilometre cable which has a 600MW capacity as soon as the Viking Windfarm passes regulatory hurdles.
But while SHE’s published plans can be read as an expression of faith in the project, it is seen as highly likely any announcement as to whether islands’ onshore windfarms will be included in forthcoming energy auctions will be pushed back until the Westminster parliament is reconvened, possibly with a new government.
Earlier indications from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) had been for an announcement on which sectors would be permitted to bid by the end of this month, before parliamentary recess. The auction itself is supposed to happen before the end of the year.
But the turbulence following the Brexit vote, along with former Prime Minister David Cameron’s decision to step down, means the government may not commit to anything for months until there is greater clarity about what leaving the EU will mean for renewable industries.
Scottish and Southern Electricity community liaison officer Gavin Steel said that key to the whole process was confirmation from the DECC that island windfarms would be included in the next auction and energy regulator Ofgem’s approval of the needs case for the cable, which was itself dependent on the DECC decision.
He added: “It’s not a question of whether we apply before or after the decision from the DECC, we are just seeking to be ready so that if that decision comes from the DECC we are in a position to move as quickly as possible.”
Mr Steel said that it was planned to have the £600 million cable complete in 2021, as the proposed Viking Windfarm starts to come on stream. There is also spare capacity on the line to accommodate other renewable power sources.
Peel Wind Farms (Yell) Ltd has meanwhile applied for consent to build a 50MW wind farm of up to 17 turbines of up to 145-metres in South Yell. Peel has also submitted additional information on peat re-use and restoration at the proposed Beaw Field Wind Farm with the Scottish ministers. The company’s proposals are available for viewing at the SIC headquarters at North Ness Business Park and Burravoe Post Office in Yell.
• Meanwhile, anti-Viking Windfarm campaign group Sustainable Shetland has responded to “allegations” made by Viking Energy the developer submitted to the Scottish Affairs Committee.
Viking’s own submission was in response to an earlier one already filed by the campaigners. Viking claims the Sustainable Shetland document included “several misleading or factually inaccurate assertions made without evidence”, which it has set out to put right.