Letters / What size of back-up power station will Shetland need?

It was nice timing that The Guardian ran the story of the underwater cable failure to Stornoway during the same week that Shetland News informed us all that SSEN is submitting an analysis of the need for a backup power plant to Ofgem to secure power supplies during the inevitable failures of the 600 MW Shetland Link.

SSE to submit analysis on interconnector back-up solution to Ofgem in coming weeks

What?  Now?

Given the sheer number of HVDC cable failures in NW Europe, current and recent, it is inevitable that the Viking Energy wind farm will quite often be unable to export surplus electricity from Shetland to its ultimate market in England, over its 25-year life.

The Shetland News story begs the obvious question of how large the standby power station in Shetland will have to be.

The pro-cable/VEWF/SIC lobby foresees massive growth of power demand in Shetland, optimistic that the “net zero emission” policies of the Scottish and UK Governments will require the oil and gas companies operating around Shetland to replace their on-board, gas-based, power stations with the purchase of electricity from Viking Energy and other giant wind farms on and around Shetland.


So every time the link, which in practice originates on the Caithness side of the Moray Firth fails, the standby power station in Shetland must seamlessly fulfil the demand.

On past form, the Shetland Link might easily be closed for months or even years. The demand from offshore oil and gas fields by then could be hundreds of MW, 24 hours per day.

SSE Renewables and Ofgem must already be well aware of these obvious risks, even if neither has aired them in public. Given that all such risks were already highlighted in ours and other responses to Ofgem‘s ‘final needs’ consultation, we are curious to see how SSE Renewables aims to be compensated in the event of any disruption to SSE Renewables export of power from Shetland to England.

The interests of both the UK consumer and the Shetland community have been consistently trashed throughout this insulting process. It would add insult to injury were SSE Renewables to be uniquely compensated for any failure of their needlessly costly transmission system.

Hugh Sharman

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