In response to recent correspondence about plans to to connect Shetland to the National Grid there was a public consultation meeting on 16th August at Shetland Museum by National Grid Shetland Link Ltd and the project team.
It wasn’t particularly well advertised and the closing date for consultation responses was 31st August.
I went along to find out more as it seems nonsensical to replace the power station with a hugely expensive 250km subsea cable from Dounreay to Scalloway and still need a diesel back-up. What happens if the cable breaks? Surely Shetland should use the renewable energy it already produces along with other small-scale wind and tidal developments and why can’t gas from Sullom Voe power a new generator?
John Tulloch is right that there would be capacity for the cable to export up to 60MW power from the isles as well as providing electricity to us. An Ofgem representative gave this information as well when questioned by supporters of Viking Energy.
I spoke with three different representatives and was repeatedly told this proposed cable had nothing to do with Viking Energy. The leaflet I picked up states: “This project is completely separate and not connected to any other proposals for a connection from Shetland to the mainland that may be being developed and would be complementary to the proposed Viking Energy link.”
I asked about back-up in the event of accidents to the cable. Cut-offs for planned maintenance or accidental repairs would mean relying on the “modern efficient diesel generators” to be provided by Aggreko at Gremista. I was told this could operate for up to nine months at a time. Why not year-round provision in that case and save the entire costs of a cable?
I was also told that Sullom Voe gas providers were not asked or chose not to tender for the work and could not guarantee the supply of gas beyond the 2020s. This seems hard to believe given the huge investment in the Shetland Gas Plant at Sullom Voe. Sullom Voe Terminal already “meets around 40 per cent of Shetland’s demand” according to one of the posters at the consultation event.
Energy company SSE has a 20 per cent interest in the Shetland Gas Plant as well as in gas fields. It is also a partner in the Viking Energy project.
None of this makes any sense. I continue to believe the best solution for our electricity supply is with a gas-fuelled replacement power station which would become increasingly a back-up to the current and future smaller-scale wind and tidal renewable energy provision here in Shetland.
There is no need for this hugely expensive cable and no need to be connected to the national grid south, unless that is, you want to live in an industrial-scale wind factory.
Who are the profiteers? Follow the money.
We never seem to get any straight answers to the pertinent questions raised by Mr Tulloch. Perhaps our national politicians could try.