I note your article regarding remote island wind (“Renewable energy boom driven by £557m auctions”, The Herald, July 24). Sustainable Shetland would like to respond to this article, and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (DBEIS) press releases that prompted it, from the Shetland perspective.
Scotland is set to enjoy a new renewable energy boom, according to your article, and islands like those in Shetland are ideal locations for the development of wind power “because of their natural stormy environments”.
One might be forgiven for thinking that the writer of this article had his tongue in his cheek. Even the most ardent supporters of wind power will concede that not everyone in Scotland – or Shetland – will enjoy this apparent boom, and that stormy conditions mean more frequent shut-downs of wind turbines – and more prolonged construction periods and risk of peat slides. The vast cost of transmitting this intermittent power to the UK mainland is also less than ideal.
Lord Duncan, who urges “local communities, developers and other stakeholders to work together to ensure that such projects deliver lasting benefits to the islands”, wishes to see Shetland become a platform for all manner of renewable energy sources from all over the North Sea and North Atlantic. He seems oblivious to the cost of all of this and as to whether or not it will represent value for money to electricity consumers.
The reason for this article was the previous day’s two press releases issued by the UK Government. One of these trumpeted that Claire Perry, Minister of State for Energy and Clean Growth, was going to announce the next round of Contract for Difference (CfD) auctions for offshore wind, and that “remote island wind” would be eligible to take part. In fact she appears to have forgotten to do the latter, although the next day she did announce consent for a fracking operation in Lancashire.
In any case, the fact that £57.50 is being heralded by Ms Perry as the going rate for a “strike price” for offshore wind electricity generation must have implications for the viability of Viking Energy, and the other developers who are queuing up to sink Shetland under hundreds of massive wind turbines. This is something that Viking Energy seems unwilling to comment on. If it is a so-called community project, the community should have a right to know. Viking Energy continues to try to railroad its project through against significant local opposition. It continues to spend large sums of Shetland Charitable Trust money without any guarantee that it will be successful in the CfD auction.
The preferential CfD treatment for remote island wind has simply encouraged over-development of wind energy in locations that are, in reality, far from ideal.
Burnside, Voe, Shetland.
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