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Energy / Viking construction progressing well but cement supply a worry

The Kergord converter station building site on 13 July. Photo: Courtesy of SSEN Transmission

ELEVEN months into the construction of the Viking Energy wind farm, the multimillion-pound project is progressing well and on target, according to the developers involved.

Giving a detailed update to the Viking Community Liaison Group on Tuesday evening, representatives from SSE Renewables and SSEN Transmission both said they did not expect any major impact from the worldwide shortage of cement.

This comes at a time when the local construction industry is suffering from shortages and price hikes in materials, including cement, with local civil engineering firm Tulloch Developments going public yesterday alerting its customers that until further notice it can no longer supply ready mix concrete.

Speaking for the Kergord converter station project, SSEN Transmission’s project manager Craig Park told the meeting that the concrete platform for the station was now “substantially complete” and the erection of the steelwork for the building underway.

Asked about concrete by Andrew Archer of Tingwall, Weisdale and Whiteness community council, Park said the construction site is being supplied by local firm EMN Plant.

“We are doing all our batching on the islands, and then it is transported up to the site for pouring. We have done a lot of pre-cast units to try and limit the amount concrete wagons travelling about the islands,” he said.

Track construction work at Scar Quilse. Photo: SSE renewables

Stakeholder manager with SSE Renewables Aaron Priest added when asked by community councillor Neil Leask, that pouring the first foundations of the 103 wind turbines has commenced.

“I have been told that there have been some delays to supply of cement but ultimately sufficient cement is getting through to the project, and any short delays has been worked around (…) so there has been no overall delay to the project so far,” he said.

The steel fixing starts on turbine base K79 at the north end of Mid Kame. Photo: SSE Renewables

Civil engineer with main contractor RJ McLeod, Ryan MacLean, added that from 9 August the demand for cement on the construction site will grow significantly.

“There are national shortages which most people will be aware of,” he said. “At the moment we are not being delayed, and I am being told by suppliers that they think it should be okay going into August, but I wouldn’t guarantee anything.

“There have been two significant breakdowns in June and July already, and the same could happen again.”

Each 103 foundation requires around 700 cubic metres of concrete. Overall, around 30,000 tonnes of cement will be needed.

A company spokesman added that currently supply is coming from Tarmac, a Scottish cement supplier based in Dunbar.

Updating members of the community councils of the four most affected areas on the progress of the construction works, Priest said that 60 per cent (or 43 kilometres) of the wind farm track network was now in place.

The tracks were initially built to construction traffic standards and needed to be capped before being able to take the trucks that will eventually deliver the wind turbine components.

Crane hard standings for 48 of the 103 turbines have commenced, he said, while 30 turbine bases have so far been excavated.

Priest added that at present around 200 people, including 80 local folk, were working on the wind farm site. A further 140 are employed on the converter station site at Kergord.