SHETLAND wind farm developer Viking Energy insists “good progress” continues to be made on their controversial 103 turbine project, despite fears raised following UK energy secretary Amber Rudd’s keynote speech on long term national energy policy on Wednesday.
The Scottish government immediately voiced alarm at Rudd’s silence on fairer electricity transmission costs, which would allow Scottish (including Shetland) generators to compete with their English counterparts.
Scottish Renewables chief executive Niall Stewart said Viking Energy had been left “in limbo” by the government.
Viking Energy will not be able to put forward its plans to government through the Contract for Difference (CFD) auction process until possibly late in 2016.
The uncertainty this delay creates has affected plans for an interconnector cable to link the Viking wind farm to mainland Scotland.
This year the government’s Electricity Networks Strategy Group (ENSG) revised its estimated date for the interconnector to be completed from early 2021.
Now the ENSG says the estimated delivery date for the 600MW cable is “TBC (to be confirmed) resulting from continuing uncertainty around CFD for the second delivery period”.
Stewart said “delivery timelines for onshore wind projects on Scotland’s islands (had been) pushed back”.
This, he said, “would in turn delay the delivery of grid connections, meaning those developments will not be able to contribute to Scotland’s 100 per cent renewable power target (by 2020).”
Scottish energy minister Fergus Ewing added: “There is further bad news for Scotland’s renewables industry with no support for the cheapest renewable technologies, such as onshore wind, and a further year’s delay to awarding contracts to new renewables capacity, which is particularly concerning for projects on Scottish islands, and Scottish offshore wind developments.”
Viking Energy Shetland’s head of development Aaron Priest played down any impact Rudd’s policy speech had on their plans to build the third largest wind farm in Scotland.
“We continue to make good progress on the Viking project and, as before, expect to be in a position to bid for a CfD contract in an auction in 2016,” he said.
“We will liaise with government on the exact timing and detail of this auction.”
During her speech, Rudd said: “We have enough onshore wind in the pipeline to meet our 2020 expectations.
“That is why we set out in our manifesto that we would end any new public subsidy for onshore wind farms.”
Her hopes for low carbon electricity generation to reduce the UK’s impact on climate change hinge around building new nuclear power stations, backing the fracking industry and supporting offshore wind power only if it can reduce its costs.
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