Letters / Cable vital for renewables

In reply to both James Mackenzie (Can we leave it at that; SN, 04/02/14) and Ian Tinkler (Dishonest; SN, 04/02/14) my letter (No renewables; SN, 03/02/14) was clear and accurate, even if they didn’t like what they read.

Sustainable Shetland doesn’t want a link to the National Grid, with a cable to the mainland, unless there is what it admits is a highly unlikely transformation in energy and environmental policies in Shetland and the UK and this would probably mean Europe as well.

Even if this highly unlikely revolution happened the organisation would still possibly not support a cable. Any reasonable interpretation of this policy means the organisation, for all practical purposes, doesn’t want to see a cable.

Of course we can and should encourage domestic and small community schemes, but without a cable to the National Grid, Shetland cannot get its electricity from renewable energy – instead it will continue to rely on fossil-fuel power stations in Lerwick and Sullom Voe and the £19 million annual subsidy from south consumers.


The existing electricity distribution system in the islands cannot take any more renewable energy than it already agreed to or is connected – primarily the Burradale turbines – because it cannot handle the intermittent energy production of renewables.

Scottish and Southern Energy do have a innovative scheme known as NINES which is intended to help store energy either in a big water tank for the district heating in Lerwick or in storage heaters in 750 Hjaltland and SIC houses. The huge battery at Gremista and the three wind turbines planned for the Rova Head are all part of the plan.

However the NINES plan has run into problems. We all know about the battery not being used, the SIC pulled its 500 houses out of the scheme and there seems to be other delays and problems as well.

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Even if the excellent NINES project is a complete success, which looks unlikely, it will only allow possibly another 2-4 megawatts of renewables to connect to the local grid. That is roughly another five Burradale turbines, plus some small domestic turbines.

That is all for the whole of Shetland; hardly a major new industry.

That is why I wrote that without the link to the National Grid there can’t be a renewable energy industry in the islands and no new commercial renewable projects. No tidal, no wave or wind power. That is the effect of Sustainable Shetland’s policy.

Chris Bunyan


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