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United Kingdom

Application to build 540 MW project on Shetland Isles

An application to build the UK's largest onshore wind farm on the main island of Shetland to the far north of Scotland has been lodged with the Scottish government. Viking Energy hopes to build 150 turbines with a combined capacity of 540 MW (indicating the use of 3.6 MW turbines, a size only available from Siemens). The Viking Energy Partnership is a 50-50 joint venture between Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) and Viking Energy Limited (VEL), which is 90% owned by the Shetland Charitable Trust (SCT), an organisation set up on behalf of the community to manage compensation payments from Sullom Voe, Europe's biggest oil terminal. VEL was initially set up by the Shetland Isles Council, which later sold its interest at cost to SCT. VEL's Bill Manson says the council became an active partner in the large scale wind farm when it realised a number of energy companies had become interested in developing wind in Shetland. "By doing so we have been able to ensure the interests of local residents are central to the development proposals and that the community will benefit economically to an extent unseen before. Just as we have great oil reserves, Shetland has an unrivalled wind resource." Project officer David Thomson adds that the application follows five years of research and consultation. The size of the project was cut from 168 turbines to 150, reducing its footprint to an eventual 252 hectares. If it goes ahead, over £37 million is likely to be generated in the local economy each year. This includes returns to SCT worth £23 million as well as wages and rents to local landowners and crofters. The wind farm is dependent on an electrical connection to the Scottish mainland. SSE's transmission networks division is to apply for a 600 MW subsea connector.

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