The UK government is poised to bring forward more details about its pre-election pledge to commit to onshore wind projects, potentially ending months of uncertainty over Shetland’s future energy supply.
The Shetland Times has learned an announcement is due later this month which, it is hoped, will provide vital information on how onshore wind will be supported.
It follows a Tory manifesto commitment to support land-based windfarms where a community benefit will result from their development.
However, no timescale was put on the commitment.
Any announcement cannot come soon enough for Shetland Islands Council, which has submitted a damning response to Ofgem’s consultation over a so-called new “energy solution” for the isles.
Officials and elected members have slammed controversial proposals put out for consultation by energy regulator Ofgem to run a 60MW subsea cable from Dounreay to the isles, with back-up power coming from a number of diesel-powered generators.
That came after plans for a replacement power station at Rova Head in Lerwick were put in cold storage as Ofgem sought best value.
In a special report in this week’s paper head of development Neil Grant and the development committee chairman, Alastair Cooper, lay bare the limitations of the proposed supply-only cable, amid concerns Shetland’s potential as an energy exporter will be lost if it cannot distribute power south as well.
However, Mr Cooper believes all might not be lost if clarity is offered in the near future.
“Ofgem and National Grid needs the UK government to clarify its position. They’re actually dealing with a situation that is in front of them today. They’re having to deal with the situation as they have it,” he told this newspaper.
“If the UK government would provide clarity on the remote island wind they may even, at this late stage, still be able to take a better decision.”
• For an in-depth look at the issues surrounding the proposed 60MW subsea cable and power generation in the isles pick up a copy of this week’s Shetland Times.