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Energy / SVT operator keen to see battery system installed amid shutdown warning

Sullom Voe Terminal. Photo: BP

OIL company EnQuest has thrown its weight behind a planned battery storage system in Lerwick – saying without equipment of its type Sullom Voe Terminal (SVT) would face the risk of shutdowns and put its long-term viability at risk.

EnQuest, which operates the terminal, also said there would be a knock-on effect to oil and gas assets which export into SVT.

Zenobe’s proposed 70MW battery storage system would be used to keep the lights on in Shetland if the forthcoming subsea transmission link between the isles and the Scottish mainland had an outage.

To ensure supply in Shetland, Lerwick Power Station would need time to move out of standby mode, and the battery system would help to avoid a possible blackout in the isles.

Under the new set-up, which is due to go live in 2024, the transmission link will be able to both export power from the Viking Energy wind farm, and import electricity to Shetland if needs be – meaning Lerwick Power Station is no longer needed for day to day operations.

The development is proposed for land opposite the power station behind the Ocean Kinetics building.

Writing in a letter of support to the Scottish Government’s Energy Consents Unit, which will have the final say on the battery plans, EnQuest reiterated that it is intending to power SVT from the grid in the future as it overhauls the site.

This is instead of the current gas-fired power station on site, which is operated by Equans and is due to be decommissioned in the next couple of years.

EnQuest said doing so will “deliver significant emission reductions”.

But its head of major projects Ian Conacher warned: “To ensure a continued power supply for SVT, it is critical that the installed design includes an energy storage and fault ride-through solution.

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“Without these items, any power outages would cause a shutdown of both SVT and the offshore assets that export oil and gas into SVT.

“Any solution without an energy storage and fault ride-through solution would, therefore, impact on the long term viability of SVT, require a full reassessment of the proposed long term power solution and negatively impact the level of expected emission reductions.”

It comes as the terminal operator looks to rework the infrastructure on site to cater for current production levels, which is much less than its heyday some decades ago.

EnQuest is also proposing to host green hydrogen production on site, and facilitate carbon capture and storage, in the transition to net zero.

Meanwhile the battery storage system plans have drawn concern from campaign groups and also some residents, as well as Lerwick Community Council.

There is a worry over the potential fire risk of the development, but Zenobe says it will use “proven and reliable technology that has undergone extensive safety testing relating to potential fire risks”.

Zenobe co-founder and director James Basden added: “The batteries on-site would be Lithium Ion Phosphate batteries which have a higher level of safety than alternative batteries used on the market.

“To protect against any potential fire risks, we would of course have a highly sophisticated fire system in place to detect and help prevent any signs of fire, and we will be working with the local fire and rescue service if the project is consented.”

Although there have been concerns in the community, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service responded to the Energy Consents Unit consultation with no comments or objections.

Frank Hay, chairman of campaign group Sustainable Shetland, said that “given the ongoing controversy about lithium batteries I would have expected some justification for their decision not to object”.

“A bland response like this isn’t that reassuring for local residents,” he said.

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