Future Electric buys Statkraft's stake in Orkney wind projects

SCOTLAND: New privately owned wind development group Future Electric Holdings has entered the wind business with its first acquisition: Statkraft's 75% interest in a portfolio of projects on Orkney.

Future Electric makes its first wind acquisition in Orkney
Future Electric makes its first wind acquisition in Orkney

Local company Fairwind (Orkney) Limited retains the other 25% interest. Norwegian utility Statkraft shelved the 126 MW portfolio earlier this year due to high costs demanded by the transmission system operator in advance of a grid connection.

At the time, the 126 MW was still in the early stages of development and depended on a new export cable linking Orkney with the mainland.

However, Michael Davies, head of the Future Electric Group points out that the connection queue rules now allow for a different approach for reserving grid capacity that do not involve the huge up-front sums Statkraft was facing.

He also notes the government's proposals to change the grid connection rules to introduce "connect and manage". This will allow wind generators to hook up to the system in advance of grid reinforcements being built.

"You are always going to have a bit of a struggle in Orkney because of the connection difficulties. But I think the transmission issues will get solved and we will be able to get power out of the islands," Davies said.

The next step for the new partners is to review the Fairwind portfolio of sites on the islands. They will be consulting with various interests groups and local stakeholders and have engaged environmental consultants Terence O'Rourke.

"We are starting with close to a clean sheet of paper," said Davies. "I do think there is a wish in Orkney to have renewable energy."

He adds that as a private developer, Future Electric is less time-constrained to develop projects than a utility. "If it takes eight years to get this up and running I do not mind as long as I get the project developed at the end." 

The company, based in London, is backed by a number of private individual investors. Davies stresses that the Fairwind portfolio is just the first of Future Electric's wind developments. Next year he hopes to announce another acquisition or joint venture.

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