We should welcome Viking Energy. Shetland has to play its part in helping reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Much of the electricity generated by Viking will be “carbon-free”, therefore it must be worth it. The loss of landscape, wildlife, etc is a small price to pay for helping “save the world” for our children and their children, etc.
Like most simple-minded arguments it sounds convincing. It even has some truth to it. Yes, Viking will displace carbon-burning alternatives, but that is only part of the story.
Worldwide consumption of electricity generated by fossil fuels will continue to climb in the future as China’s industries expand further and less-developed countries seek a lifestyle similar to ours. Between now and 2035 (thereabouts a likely end point to Viking) fossil-fuelled electricity production will grow by some 435,000 GWh annually (US International Energy Administration figures).
Assuming Viking operates at say 50 per cent capacity (we can niggle a little about this but it is a fair guess and makes little difference anyway) then it can generate around 2,000 GWh a year. This represents just about 40 hours of the continuing growth of fossil-fuelled electricity.
So there you have it. You can cover Shetland in wind turbines if you wish. They may be an eyesore for 25 years but you are doing your bit for the world. All one and a half days of it.
You make your choice. That day and half means that if the world was going to end or whatever because of fossil-fuelled electricity say early Monday morning, because of Viking it will last till Tuesday evening. Enough time for a dram and to drive to Sumburgh, run up the hill, turn around and fart into the gale. It will have as much effect on saving us from global warming as Viking will.
Perhaps they’ll call it “Shetland day” to remind the world we trashed Shetland for those extra 40 hours. Oh and I am not really condoning driving after that dram. Might be best to take a bus.
Adrian R Yallop
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