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Energy / Most Viking turbines now checked and ready

A view of the Viking wind farm from the Vidlin junction. Photo: Shetland News

AROUND 85 per cent of the Viking Energy wind farm turbines have been fully commissioned and are ready for use.

A meeting of the Viking Energy community liaison group was given the update on Tuesday, with the site expected to be handed over for operations in September.

Gerry Hamill, who has been involved with civil work on site for developer SSE Renewables, said cabling at the wind farm is complete and energised.

Work now involves reinstatement and snagging, as well as commissioning the final turbines.

A total of 88 of the 103 turbines have now been fully commissioned.

However he said the weather has presented some challenging conditions over the last few years, including snow – with the recent weather causing disruption.

The meeting also heard that there are hopes to introduce a permanent solution to problems at an excavation pit near the Burn of Lunklet which has caused issues with water quality, with options currently being assessed.

Meanwhile around half of the 275 new overhead power line pole structures currently being installed between Lerwick and Kergord are now up.

The 132kV lines will enable Shetland to be connected to the national grid once the subsea transmission link to Caithness goes live, with underground cabling also part of the project.

Work on the 600MW HVDC link has progressed well, with final checks taking place. It is due to be handed over to the National Grid on 1 July, the meeting also heard.

However the recent wintry weather has “significantly impacted” the use of a helicopter to bring parts by air for the Lerwick-Kergord power project.

Senior project manager Kevin McLean said more than 6km of access tracks have been installed across the project to date.

Impact on landscape will be minimal, SSEN assures community as major engineering works stop for Christmas

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The 132kV cables which will be used for the project have now been manufactured in China, with the first due to arrive in Shetland later this week.

Meanwhile staff numbers across the wind farm and HVDC projects have dropped from a peak of around 500 during construction to roughly 140.

The meeting heard that more than £76 million has gone into the local economy, with just under £1 million awarded through the Viking Energy community benefit fund to date in the advance grant scheme.

SSE Renewables stakeholder engagement manager for onshore wind Corrina Scholes added that there have been talks with local schools about the prospect of naming some Viking turbines.

There has also been an agreement reached with Ability Shetland that will see an all-terrain wheelchair at the site for use around the tracks once the wind farm is operational.

Recruitment is underway for SSE Renewables’ operations team once the wind farm is live, with an electrical engineer in post this week.

There will also be roles such as site supervisor and environmental advisor.

Meanwhile the new road built from near the Halfway House into Kergord for wind farm construction traffic is expected to be handed over to the council for public use later on in the summer.

It will be brought up to public standard, with a car park also set to be installed there. Plans will be submitted in due course for another public car park at the wind farm’s north compound, south of Voe, for recreational use.

The issue of the financial bond which was recently agreed for the Viking Energy wind farm – which should have been in place three and a half years ago – was also raised.

The £40 million bond is a safety guarantee for the planning authority that sufficient funds are in place should owner SSE Renewables not be able to comply with its legal obligation to decommission and restore the wind farm site in Shetland’s central mainland.

Tuesday’s meeting heard that the bond will be reviewed at regular intervals, possibly every five years.

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