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Energy / SSE Renewables pleased with progress on Viking construction site

Turbine blades arrive on site in the Nesting cluster on Friday afternoon. Photo: Hans J Marter/Shetland News

THE VIKING wind farm project continues to be on track for completion and delivery in autumn of next year despite the challenging financial climate and high inflation rates.

Asked how the 103-turbine project could still be on budget in the current economic circumstances, SSE Renewables’ director for construction and development of onshore wind projects in the UK and Ireland, Heather Donald, said the team has had its challenges.

“A lot of our contracts were locked in at the start,” she said on Friday. “It has been hugely challenging, but we are committed to this project to see it through and see it commissioned next year.

“There are always risks and uncertainties to these projects which we have to absorb.

“[It’s been] challenging for the whole industry with so much uncertainty, but we are working partnerships (…) and we all have to work together to deliver these projects.”

The 443MW Viking wind farm has always been described as a £580 to £600 million investment. It will connect to the national grid and will contribute towards lowering Shetland’s massive carbon footprint.

SSE Renewables’ Heather Donald: ‘We are on track and where we want to be at the moment.’ Photo: Hans J Marter/Shetland News

Donald was reluctant to discuss the budgetary constraints of the project in more detail. However, with an electricity wholesale price hovering around the £100 per MW/h mark, the wind farm, once complete, is set to generate a healthy income for the company.

She said: “It’s a team effort, but I can’t say more about our contractual arrangements.

“We had our challenges; but it will be the most productive onshore wind farm in the UK when it is commissioned next year.

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“The project has been on our books for nearly two decades, so although I have come to the project relatively recently, literally hundreds of people within SSE have been involved in it, so it is really important to us, and we see this as an important step in decarbonisation of Shetland and the wider benefits for Scotland.”

Meanwhile construction of 75 of the 103 turbines is now complete, and the team is confident that all will be completed before the end of the year.

The last convoy of with turbine blades is meanwhile scheduled to be taken to the site in the Central Mainland this week.

Donald said better than expected summer weather has helped the four Vestas construction teams make steady progress in erecting the turbines.

“We hope that we will have all the turbines fully installed by winter. It has been great to get to this stage, all base sections are complete,” she said.

“We are on track and where we want to be at the moment. Ahead of schedule but probably on schedule, we were worried that we might not have been by this stage […] but then you never know what the next few weeks will bring.”

Once construction is complete the commissioning phase gets under way which includes testing all the turbines, the circuits, and the link up to HVDC site at Kergord.

The wind farm is scheduled to go into production by September next year.

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