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Council / Shetland could be at the heart of the energy transition but time is of the essence, green energy developer insists

Mark Dixon (left) and Dan Jackson of Cerulean Winds. Photo: Hans J Marter/Shetland News

SHETLAND’s opportunities to capitalise on the green energy revolution cannot be overstated, according to the team behind plans to create a £10 billion floating wind farm to the west of Shetland.

Energy services entrepreneurs Dan Jackson and Mark Dixon of Cerulean Winds were in Shetland this week to start negotiations with stakeholders including Shetland Islands Council.

Cerulean has been in discussion with Scottish Government agencies for some time to hammer out the regulatory and licensing requirements for installing 200 wind turbines – with a capacity of between 14-15MW each – around 100 kilometres to the west of Shetland to power oil platforms and to kick start a green hydrogen industry.

The project if realised is said to have the capacity of abating 20 million tonnes of CO2 annually.

Following a presentation to SIC representatives, Jackson was full of praise for the vision and ambition of the ORION clean energy project. It is being pursued as a partnership between the council, Highland and Islands Enterprise and the Oil and Gas Technology Centre to allow the isles to benefit from the opportunities of the energy transition.

At the heart of the activity is the urgent need to plan and implement radical measures to decarbonise the oil and gas industry as part of the country’s journey towards net-zero.

Sullom Voe Terminal operator EnQuest is looking at implementing a net zero green power solution by the middle of the decade, while no new oil and gas projects will get the go-head without an acceptable net-zero strategy.

Dixon said the Cerulean proposal, should it get the necessary regulatory and financial backing, could potentially be up and running as early as 2026.

The Cerulean wind farm would not be connected to the national grid and would not apply for government subsidies, according to the developer.

Speaking to Shetland News earlier this week, Jackson said time was of the essence.

“The UK Government, the Scottish Government and all the regulatory stakeholders are aligned in [recognising] the urgency,” he said.

Dixon added that Cerulean would allow the oil and gas industry to decarbonise enabling the sector to continue to produce fossil fuels needed, he said, for “continued energy security”.

“We feel it fits for now and the urgency, but also for the long-term,” he said. “This project will be providing the green electricity that we need for net-zero.”

“The wind is a world class resource here, the quality and the quantity of it. The energy that one can extract from it is second to none.

“There is oil and gas that needs to decarbonise, and the excess energy that will be produced from this particular scheme will kick start the green hydrogen industry here on the islands.”

Ever since the Shetland community lost its stake in the Viking Energy wind farm project, the SIC has stepped up its campaign for a fair share of the new industry’s spoils in the form of cheaper energy prices to address the appallingly high level of fuel poverty in the isles.

SIC leader Steven Coutts said the council was happy to hear first hand about the Cerulean ideas.

“The council recognise that there are many parties interested in the very substantial renewable energy resources around Shetland. The ORION project was initiated because of that, and our desire to maximise the opportunities these bring,” he said.

“These sort of discussions across the energy sector allows us to explain key Shetland interests directly – like looking after the marine environment and the importance of our fisheries sector, as well as our ambitions around decarbonisation, sustainable local jobs and affordable energy for people in Shetland.

“The meeting was another clear demonstration that the energy industry is changing, that change is accelerating and that Shetland is in the middle of some very valuable resources.”

Jackson said there was “a natural overlap” between the Cerulean project and the ambitions expressed in the ORION project.

”ORION is unique in terms of its clarity and purpose, and all credit to the ORION team and to the council behind it,” he said.

“I think it really provides a vision not just for the next few years but for the next 30 to 40 years. Shetland has a world class resource, and the opportunity for Shetland to develop that in a sustainable way is there and ORION provides that blueprint.”