A project to build an £800 million undersea electricity connection between the Shetland Islands and the mainland has been scrapped. Under the plan, which was proposed by National Grid, Shetland and Aggreko, the temporary power provider, a 161-mile (260km) subsea link would for the first time have linked the islands and the main onshore power grid. Part of the reasoning for the idea was that an existing diesel-fired power station at Lerwick, which opened in 1953, had been expected to close in 2020 because it would no longer have met European emissions standards. This would have left the islands struggling to keep the lights on without energy being imported from the mainland. However, legislative changes relating to small, isolated power systems such as the one in Shetland mean that the site in Lerwick, which employs 20 people, can keep operating until 2030. At the same time, the government decided to allow wind farms in the Scottish islands to compete for subsidies in the next energy contracts auction in 2019. Any wind farm provider winning a contract would have to build a connection of their own to the mainland in order to supply the grid with their excess power. The two developments meant that the project as it was proposed was no longer necessary, Ofgem, the energy regulator, said yesterday. The largest wind farm being planned for Shetland is a joint venture between SSE and the local community called Viking Energy. If it goes ahead it will be among the largest in the UK, generating 370 megawatts, enough for more than 300,000 homes. Work on the wind farm is unlikely to start unless it secures a contract from the 2019 round. Aaron Priest, head of development at Viking Energy, said that talks with the UK government about island projects participating in the auctions was continuing. The cost of keeping Lerwick power station operating for a few extra years until at least 2025 is expected to be significantly below the cost of the connector project, Ofgem said. It added that further savings could be made if a wind farm developer built its own connection. The decision to scrap the project was welcomed by Shetland Islands council, which had been against the new link as it favoured a larger capacity cable capable of handling hundreds of megawatts of power. Tavish Scott, the Liberal Democrat MSP for Shetland, also welcomed the news because it would retain jobs at Lerwick power station.
Times 24th Nov 2017 read more »
SCOTLAND’S most northerly islands are set for a second major energy boom after regulators rejected subsea cable plans in move that could unlock the huge potential of wind power to sell to the grid. Shetland’s vast oil fund which was set up in the late 1970’s has a half stake in a planned 103 turbine wind farm on the islands which would raise around Â£10 million a year for the local community. The Viking windfarm would generate 450MW of power is capable of supplying power to nearly 300 homes. It comes after plans to serve Shetland’s energy needs with a 60MW subsea cable from the Scottish mainland were rejected by Ofgem following a relaxation of emissions targets and a government pledge to support for island wind farms. Scottish and Southern Energy Networks – which owns Lerwick Power Station – confirmed that security of supply to Shetland would be guaranteed until at least 2025 through a combination of its Lerwick Power Station plant and “additional supporting measures”. Ofgem said it would give more details on its decision to reject the power cable bid by National Grid Shetland Link Ltd and Aggreko’s next week.
Herald 24th Nov 2017 read more »