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Energy / Microplastics not an issue, Viking insists

SSE Renewables has ordered 103 Vestas V117-4.2MW turbines for the Viking Energy wind farm. Photo: Vesta

THE DEVELOPER of the Viking Energy wind farm has given categorical assurances that Shetland’s drinking water will not be affected by microplastics that might be shed from turbines.

SSE Renewables’ stakeholder manager Aaron Priest was responding to questions at last night’s (Tuesday) virtual meeting of the Viking Community Liaison Group.

Priest questioned the credibility of a Norwegian report which has been referred to in the local press including a number of letters to Shetland News.

The report, published by the Wind Turbine Group, claims that in harsh weather conditions as much as 62 kilos of harmful microplastics could be emitted annually from a 4.2MW wind turbine.

Viking stakeholder manager Aaron Priest. Photo: Dave Donaldson fro SSE Renewables.

Priest said SSE’s wind turbines were equipped with “leading edge protection” which limits and negates blade damage.

He said the claims in the report bear no relation to the longstanding measures that SSE had in place to protect blades from erosion.

“The quantities of eroded material are absolutely minimal (…) and there is no expectation to measure what are relatively minute quantities, and ultimately there is an ongoing process to prevent blade erosion,” Priest told the meeting.

“As far as SSE is concerned the effects on Shetland’s water supply will be nil.”

Shetland North councillor Alasdair Cooper added that apart from a few dwelling houses in the wind farm area that might have private water supplies, all supply in the north and west of Shetland was sourced from Northmavine, which is outside the wind farm area.

Priest added: “It is in our commercial interest to make sure the blades are not eroding to that kind of level [as claimed in the report], are protected and don’t need to be replaced.”

Priest also said that based on company records SSE Renewables did not expect to have to replace any of the blades of the 103 turbines during the lifetime of the Viking wind farm.