Speaking personally I think that we should now accept the wind farm as a fait accompli. The arguments have been aired but the project is going ahead. Now we have to come together to make the most of the green energy Shetland will have in abundance, plus the albeit reduced income for the charitable trust and local communities.
The cable will allow us to export future green energy from wind and tidal schemes and, importantly, bring in electricity from the national grid if and when it is needed, bringing to and end the burning of diesel at the current power station.
This also needs to be part of a UK (and Europe) wide energy network where we can play an important role in energy distribution.
We have the opportunity to make Shetland the envy of other remote (and non remote) communities – somewhere that generates all its own power, a truly carbon neutral area.
We may get ‘eco’ visitors coming to see how it is done. Even after the carbon payback time on the wind farm is over we will have electricity to export and to use in our cars, buses, ferries and homes.
To make the most of this opportunity we need to develop the EV (electric car) charging network, encourage EV ownership, examine how our public transport network can be converted to electricity, look at energy storage, and make it easier and cheaper for people to install domestic heat pumps.
The income from the wind farm could help with this and also perhaps go towards a contingency fund for the climate change mitigation measures we will have to take in the future like combating rising sea levels.
Shetland could develop the expertise in these areas which would see local companies leading the way, providing new jobs and taking on business from outside the islands – exporting our skills and knowledge.
But there needs to be a concerted effort now from all stakeholders (including the council, businesses and residents) to make this work for Shetland and our future.
The government is currently consulting on an earlier phase out of the sale of petrol and diesel cars and vans (see link) – this will lead to cleaner air for us all and with green electricity on tap Shetland is well placed to capitalise on such a move.
Let’s move forward together.