THE DEVELOPER behind a proposed wind farm in Yell has completed a deal to buy two other renewable developments in Shetland.
Statkraft, which is leading the 18-turbine Energy Isles project in Yell, has purchased the Beaw Field and Mossy Hill wind farm developments from Peel Energy.
Both Beaw Field, which would have 17 turbines and be located in the south of Yell, and Mossy Hill – a 12-turbine development planned for the outskirts of Lerwick – have consent to go ahead, as well as government support through the Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme.
They would be able generate enough power for the equivalent of over 90,000 homes, Statkraft said.
Energy Isles is still awaiting a decision from the Scottish Government, although there is a hope it could come through soon.
Developing the two wind farms acquired from Peel would represent a combined investment of more than £150 million.
Speaking to Shetland News, Statkraft’s head of UK development Richard Mardon confirmed the company was not actively looking at any other potential wind farm sites in Shetland – but he did say it was a case of “never say never” for the future.
However, the energy chief said Statkraft was interested in investing in other emerging opportunities such as hydrogen production.
It comes against a backdrop of SSE’s much larger 103-turbine Viking Energy wind farm, which is currently being constructed in Shetland’s central mainland, preparing to go live in 2024.
This was the driver behind the transmission link also currently being constructed between Shetland and the Scottish mainland, which will connect the isles to the national grid and allow large wind farms to export energy.
Also in the mix for Shetland, in the longer term, is the idea of harnessing wind power to create green hydrogen.
Statkraft describes itself as Europe’s largest renewable power generator, and it has its roots in Norway.
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With the company now overseeing three wind farm developments in the isles, it could open an office in Lerwick in the future. It is also currently recruiting for an “office manager/project assistant/general superstar” for its Shetland operations.
It said Shetland is a “key hub for renewables and is leading the push to net zero with its huge potential for wind, solar, hydrogen, battery storage and grid services”.
Energy Isles is under consideration by the Scottish Government’s energy consents unit because its generating capacity is more than 50MW.
Shetland Islands Council is only a consultee and elected members previously offered no objections.
But is going back in front of councillors on planning committee next week due to a change in Scottish planning framework earlier this year. Under this any renewable generation proposal exceeding 50MW is deemed a national development.
The recommendation from planning officials is for the council to continue to offer no objections subject to appropriate conditions being imposed.
Energy Isles’ turbines would have a maximum tip height of 180m – by comparison, this figure for Viking Energy is 155m.
Speaking about how the new Beaw Field and Mossy Hill deal came about, Mardon said Peel appointed an agent and put the prospect of the two wind farms out to developers.
“These two projects were presented to us and we felt that there was a good opportunity to put more into the area,” he said.
“It’s a very windy location, and it’s a good place to generate renewable energy. We want to invest in Shetland, and bring some local economic benefits to the area.”
When asked if Statkraft was actively on the lookout for more wind sites in Shetland, Mardon said that was not the case at the moment.
“We’ve got quite a lot to keep us busy with these three projects. We wouldn’t rule that out in the future, but Shetland is a very special and unique place, so you can’t see a situation where there will be too much more going on there,” he said.
“Never say never, but at the moment in time we’re not looking at any other [wind farm sites].”
In terms of future energy production such as hydrogen, which is a key feature of a possible future repurposing of Sullom Voe Terminal, he said there stands to be a “big green revolution” in Shetland.
“We’re looking at across the whole of the UK hydrogen and e-fuels for sure, and Shetland is also one of those places,” Mardon added.
“It’s still some way off, but what it needs is some anchor projects like these wind farms to get going.
“I think with three wind farms pretty much ready to build, and 240 megawatts of capacity, those would be two very good anchor projects for hydrogen facilities.”
The energy company also has one other local interest; it is in the running to install a battery storage system in Lerwick to “keep the lights on” in Shetland if the transmission link has an outage and the town’s power station needs time to move out of standby mode.
Commenting on the deal with Statkraft, Peel NRE development director for renewables Rob Tate said: “While we’ve owned these two wind farm sites a lot has changed on the Island – not least the approval of the HVDC interconnector which helps to unlock a low carbon future for Shetland.
“We’ve also made great progress to secure planning consent and long-term certainty in the form of the CfD contract.
“We are pleased that the developments can now move forward with Statkraft and would like to take this opportunity to thank partners and stakeholders in Shetland for their support during this time.
“Statkraft already has other energy projects on the Islands and we’re confident that the company can take the Beaw Field and Mossy Hill wind farms to the operations stage. We will continue to be involved for a short period to ensure a smooth handover.”
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