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Letters / Shetland should look after itself

I refer to recent discussions and articles regarding using wind turbines to produce electricity and or splitting water to obtain hydrogen (oxygen?) for power/heat – all perfectly feasible.

A spokesperson for Shetland’s Orion Project was quoted in the press saying “installed onshore wind capacity around 700MW is beyond the combined capacity of the exporting interconnector and Shetland’s own demand for electricity”.

That begs the question – where will the surplus be used, for what purpose, and with what benefit to Shetland? In addition, the possibility (negative or positive for Shetland) of electricity generated from east, north and west of Shetland (floaters may spell trouble) has to be explored and considered (fishing rights etc).

The proposed ‘hydrogen-backbone link’ connecting Shetland towards Germany may not evolve as expected. Local hydrogen blending schemes developing on the continent may cut back on the demand for imports. An export gas/h2 pipeline from the Firth of Forth area (Grangemouth?) has been mooted in the past, which might then possibly compromise economic deliveries to the Continent via the link from Shetland. Time will tell. Caveat emptor, because:

Large deposits of pure hydrogen have been discovered in Lorraine, France; Mali, West Africa, South Australia, the USA. Might more such Happy Hansels be discovered elsewhere in the world? Closer to home?

Converting wind to electricity to hydrogen (then to heat) may not be the most efficient use of energy due to the loss incurred in each process, but it is an option to consider for export.

A more efficient route is probably wind to electricity, with the most obvious local recipients being the SVT+SGP, and any derivatives’ plants/plans (e.g. Statkraft) at Scatsta.

Keep the power locally and produce inter alia, ammonia/methanol/e-gas, for value added and revenue to Shetland, if structured properly. Battery storage for local use? However, that should incur further expense (and loss of power) to store/reuse and loss of potential revenue, vis-a-vis H2 blending.

Thereafter supplying electricity to offshore exploration/production would seem promising, but providing infrastructure for that would take time, and might not be the best economic result for Shetland – best to use it locally at Sullom?

There may be concern of how to maintain control over the fluctuating demands of the supply of electricity to and from offshore oil and gas activities both afloat and ashore. A base load using electricity to produce hydrogen for blending into the gas grid via SGP may help, and perhaps complement and assist production of gas.

What then might be the price Shetland (share in Viking, plus from other locations including Yell+) obtains by delivering electricity to the enterprises above. What will SSE’s position be within that arrangement? (

That leads to another item – what will be the ‘Shetland Electricity Tariff’ – charged to its Shetland customers in a land of copious energy? What leverage will SIC bring to bear to optimise the inputs Shetland’s many talents, assets and geographical position will bring to the table to secure the best deals possible, add to its coffers for the budget (ferries, tunnels, schools) etc?

Regarding blending: It may be worthwhile noting the following: UK’s gas grid announced it will be capable of accepting two per cent of hydrogen into the pipeline system by the end of next year.

A municipality in Alberta blends five per cent H2 into the local gas line and advises blending up to 25 per cent will not cause a problem. Perth in Australia already blends H2 into their gas system.

All good news? Continental customers/users could via wind turbines produce H2 locally to blend into their domestic gas grids, from which they will benefit and collect revenue.

Shetland could do likewise into the Sirge pipeline and make a financial contribution towards its own needs and finances – a better return than by pipeline to Germany?

The UK should consider blending possibilities/probabilities before tearing out perfectly good gas boilers in houses and incur the needless expense of installing expensive heat pumps which would only please Greens, governments and their commercial friends.

Shetland, not connected to the gas grid, gains no energy/heating or financial benefit from it, therefore it should look after itself in all other energy matters and be compensated accordingly by securing the best deals possible, by taking back control and not being caught asleep at the wheel.

Cecil Robertson


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