Offshore wind opportunity for Isles with renewed hopes for new energy cable to mainland sparked by Shetland’s renewables boost

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has welcomed the launch by Crown Estate Scotland, of the ScotWind Offshore Wind Leasing Round.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 17th June 2020, 1:26 pm

Investors and developers can now take the first steps in obtaining a Lease Agreement to build Offshore Wind Farms in identified areas around Scotland.

Three of these areas are in the Hebridean Marine Region.

They hold the potential to create jobs in the Outer Hebrides supply chain bringing considerable benefit to the Islands.

Leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Cllr Roddie Mackay, said: “This is a major step forward for the islands.

“We have been working closely with Marine Scotland to ensure that their new Sectoral Plan for Offshore Wind includes areas around the Outer Hebrides and now Crown Estate Scotland are offering seabed leases in these areas.

“We have the best wind resource in Europe and some world leading energy companies are already showing strong interest in these Hebridean areas.”

With Scotland driving towards Net Zero (Greenhouse Gas emissions) by 2045 and Government and industry developing a strategic economic response to Covid-19.

Cllr MacKay concluded: “The conditions are right for the Outer Hebrides to lead the way into a new, low carbon future.

“With developers, we will now look at all routes to market for electricity from these deployments, ranging from direct grid export to onshore electricity-to-Hydrogen schemes”.

Deployment in Hebridean waters is anticipated from 2026 onwards.

HOPE FOR WESTERN ISLES’ TRANSMISSION CONNECTION

In other wind energy news this week SSE (Scottish and Southern Electricity) has approved a final investment decision for the 103-turbine, 443MW Viking onshore wind farm in a step which will help to drive forward a green economic recovery after the coronavirus lockdown.

Located in Shetland, Viking is wholly owned by SSE Renewables.

Once built it will be one of the largest onshore wind farms in the UK in terms of annual electricity output, which is expected to be around 1.9TWh each year.

SSE now awaits the outcome of the consultation on gas and electricity regulator Ofgem’s minded-to position to approve a 600MW transmission cable connection from Shetland to the mainland, expected in July.

Scottish Government Energy Minister, Paul Wheelhouse, said: “This is excellent news for Shetland, and for Scotland’s renewable energy and climate change ambitions.

“The Viking wind farm project is also a great symbol for the green recovery that the Scottish Government is determined to foster and encourage, as we move through and beyond the current Coronavirus pandemic.

“This decision is of sufficient scale to act as the trigger to unlock the much anticipated major investment in a high voltage connection from Shetland to mainland Scotland, subject to a final decision by Ofgem which we expect shortly.

“It is essential that the community of Shetland benefits from this project and we look forward to further news of contracts being awarded to local businesses, as well as Scotland as a whole, during the construction phase.

“I am determined that this excellent outcome should be a starting point for similar investments and connections to unlock equivalent potential and benefits on the Western Isles and in Orkney.”