Written by Hans J Marter
The group opposing Viking Energy and other large wind farm developments in
Shetland has poured cold water on claims describing last week’s submission
of a so-called ‘needs case’ for a 600 megawatt interconnector as a
Sustainable Shetland said that there was no guarantee that a sufficient
number of Shetland-based projects would win government subsidies under the
Contract for Difference (CfD) auction to enable the planned interconnector
to be of “value for money for electricity consumers”.
Chairman of the group Frank Hay said a similar needs case had also been
made for the Western Isles, meaning that remote island based projects would
compete against each other and against offshore projects for a limited
amount of government money.
On Friday, Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) submitted its
plans for the 260 kilometre long cable between Shetland and Caithness to
energy regulator Ofgem (SSEN makes case for interconnector cable; SN,
Viking Energy’s head of development and strategy Aaron Priest said the move
was a “welcome boost” to the project, which could begin construction in
spring 2020 should it be successful in the next May’s CfD auction.
Sustainable Shetland said Shetland Charitable Trust, which has a 45 per
cent stake in the project, continued to gamble with public money.
“A similar needs case has of course already been submitted for the Western
Isles by SSEN,” Hay said.
“But when it comes to next year’s much-trumpeted auction, developers there
will be in competition with those in Shetland – and with offshore wind
developers, one of which may be one that is now fully owned by SSE –
Seagreen Wind Energy Ltd.
“Such are the vagaries if not insanities of the market economy! And there
will only be a limited amount of money available for this auction round.
“We hope that Ofgem will seriously consider the cost detriments against the
benefits promoted by developers.
“Value for money for electricity consumers is highly doubtful in this case.
The capital cost of the transmission link/inter-connector is likely to be
Hay also questioned whether Viking Energy would be allowed to participate
in next year’s CfD auction if they had not achieved the planning consent
variation for larger turbines by May 2019 (Increase planned for size of
Viking turbines; SN, 26/09/2018).
He added: “Viking claim that an interconnector will bring ‘economic, social
and environmental benefits to the islands’. Many people in Shetland would
strongly disagree with this statement especially regarding the environment.”