Viewpoint / Where does Viking’s future now lie?

WHILE Viking Energy insists “good progress” is being made with their plans for a 103 turbine wind farm across the central and north mainland of Shetland, anti-Viking campaign group Sustainable Shetland believe the new Conservative government’s recent announcement on energy policy throws the entire £1.4 billion project into uncertainty. Its vice chairman James Mackenzie explains why.

It’s no wonder that Scottish energy minister Fergus Ewing and Scottish Renewables chief executive Niall Stuart are worried by UK energy and climate change secretary Amber Rudd’s speech last week.

The Electricity Networks Strategy Group’s announcement that the Shetland interconnector’s delivery date is relegated from 2021 to “TBC (to be confirmed)” or “red” status will also be cause for their concern.

We have to remember that the next Contract for Difference ‘round’ or auction was originally to be this autumn, so this has now been delayed by at least a year.


In January 2015 the then UK energy and climate change secretary Ed Davey was quoted as saying that Westminster would bring forward the setting of the minimum “strike price” for renewable energy generated in the isles from next year to July this year.

But we still don’t know what the final ‘strike price’ will be, although we do know DECC recommended in 2014 that “isles” onshore wind (in Orkney, Shetland and the western isles) be treated differently from mainland generators – as a special group of “new technology”.

Viking Energy manager Aaron Priest’s statement that “we will liaise with government on the exact timing and detail of this auction” perhaps needs to be balanced by what Amber Rudd said:

We need to work towards a market where success is driven by your ability to compete in a market. Not by your ability to lobby government.”

In 2013 The Baringa/TNEI report for DECC, “Scottish Islands Renewable Project”, stated:

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“Government will need to weigh up the costs and benefits of renewable generation on the Scottish Islands against other sources of electricity, as set out in this report and elsewhere, and in particular considering the impact on the local economies and communities, and importantly on wider GB consumers.

“Should the political commitment be there for Scottish Islands renewables to be a key contributor to Scottish and UK 2020 renewable strategies and beyond, then a co-ordinated policy and regulatory response will be required urgently…” (our emphasis)

There is no evidence that this has yet occurred.

The future of the Viking Wind Farm and associated interconnector is, perhaps more than ever, shrouded in uncertainty.

This in spite of a recent flurry of activity from Viking Energy and SSE (and its subsidiaries), regarding planning applications for the proposed converter station and Sandwater to Kergord road, and ‘consultation’ events with crofters.


What Shetland Charitable Trust’s opinion on these delays and prevarications is not yet known. Verbal updates on subsidiary companies, such as SCT Renewables Ltd, the partner in Viking Energy LLP, are currently exempt from public scrutiny and merely “noted” by the trust.

2015 annual accounts for the above company reveal a loss, or expenditure, of around £250,000, but there is no information as to how it was spent.

Meanwhile the merchant bank Noble Grossart, appointed in February this year to advise on investments, in particular Viking Energy, has yet to deliver any publicly available advice.

How long can all this continue for the benefit of the Shetland community?

James Mackenzie
Sustainable Shetland

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