NORWEGIAN energy giant Statkraft has signed a deal to become a development partner in the proposed Energy Isles wind farm in Yell.
Energy Isles director Derek Jamieson said the state-owned company has the “financial capability to help us deliver” the wind farm.
There are hopes that if it is approved, the 29-turbine wind farm could be developed and delivered by 2026.
Earlier this year Energy Isles, which is a consortium of over 50 mainly local companies, submitted a full planning application to Scottish ministers for the wind farm west of Cullivoe.
With a turbine height of 200m, the project has a proposed capacity of 145MW to 200MW – and as a result, it would require a subsea interconnector to export energy.
Jamieson said that due to the make-up of the consortium, which includes businesses in sectors ranging from aquaculture to transport, “we were clear from an early stage that there would come a time when we’d need to bring on board the right development partner to help us take things forward”.
Statkraft says it is Europe’s largest generator of renewable energy, with a presence in 16 countries around the world.
It said with a portfolio now exceeding 10 TWh per year from almost 300 customers, the company is the leading provider of short and long-term Power Purchase Agreements – a contract under which a business agrees to purchase electricity directly from a renewable generator – in the UK.
“In choosing Statkraft we have found a company that shares our commitment to maximising the benefits of Shetland’s emerging new renewable energy sector,” Jamieson added.
“Statkraft has a great reputation in the green energy sector across the world and has the financial capability to help us deliver the Energy Isles wind farm. They understand the work that has already gone into the project and have the expertise to help us take it to the next stage.”
Statkraft UK managing director David Flood said the proposed Yell development “fits perfectly with our onshore wind power strategy”.
“The Energy Isles team has done a great job in getting the scheme to where it is today,” he added.
“We are sure that adding our experience and expertise will allow the development of the wind farm to continue to progress and we look forward to working together.”
Jamieson, meanwhile, said updates will be continue to be provided to the public via www.energyisles.co.uk and through the Energy Isles community liaison group.
“Over the coming decades onshore wind power has a crucial role to play in helping to meet our climate change targets,” he added.
“By investing in renewable energy solutions, Shetland has the opportunity to continue exporting energy to the wider world, diversifying our economy and creating opportunities for future generations.”
The wind farm plans as they stand, however, have received a number of objections, including from Yell Community Council, Shetland Amenity Trust and Scottish Natural Heritage.
The community council expressed concern over the noise level and environmental and visual impact, as well as the height and number of turbines.
The amenity trust said it objected as it believes the location of the wind farm is not suitable for development, mainly due to concerns over the impact on active blanket bog on the site.
Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), meanwhile, said it believed the current proposal would have “significant adverse effects on the special qualities of the Shetland National Scenic Area such that the objectives of the designation and overall integrity of the area would be compromised”.
The organisation expressed concern over the possible impact on regional populations of breeding birds, particularly the red-throated diver, with SNH keen to see further information.
As the proposed development is over 50MW in capacity, the decision on whether it gets the green light will come from the Scottish Government’s energy consents unit.
The Statkraft announcement comes after the proposed 103-turbine Viking Energy project, and two smaller Peel Energy wind farms in Yell and on the outskirts of Lerwick, failed to receive government support in the latest Contracts for Difference auction.