Project Development, Utility Scale, Wind Power

New European Wind Venture Could Surpass 600 MW

Wind power has partly achieved major new efficiencies through to application of the economics of scale in the wind power components. That very concept is being applied to a wind power project in Europe that could be the largest yet built on the continent.

A European consortium announced plans for a new wind power facility on the Shetland Islands that could have a capacity as high as 600 MW, an unforeseen size in Europe. SSE Generation, a subsidiary of Scottish and Southern Energy, and Viking Energy announced the agreement. Viking Energy is the company formed to represent Shetland Islands Council’s interests in large-scale wind energy development in Shetland. SSE Generation and Viking Energy currently have separate proposals for 300 MW wind farms in the central mainland of Shetland. They expect that the proposals will be combined and lead to the creation of a plan for a single 600 MW wind farm. Combining their separate proposals would enable the two organizations to manage all of the issues surrounding the development of major wind farms, such as environmental assessment, as part of a single project. Shetland is the windiest part of the UK which is, in turn, the windiest country in Europe. A wind farm on the Islands could be expected to have a load factor of up to 50 percent, meaning it would produce electricity at close to its maximum capacity for around half of the time. This would make it the most productive wind farm in Europe. The development of the 600MW wind farm is subject to, amongst other things, the formal establishment of the joint venture between SSE Generation and Viking Energy, consent for the wind farm being secured from the Scottish Executive under Section 36 of the Electricity Act and on the provision of an undersea cable connecting the Islands to the electricity transmission system on the Scottish mainland. At present, the Shetland electricity system is not connected to the electricity network on the mainland. The Islands are currently supplied by a 67 MW power station at Lerwick, constructed in 1953, and by electricity generated at the Sullom Voe oil terminal and the existing Burradale wind farm. The provision of an undersea cable by Scottish Hydro-Electric Transmission Ltd, also a subsidiary of SSE, requires Ofgem to approve the necessary investment. This means developers of renewable energy projects in Shetland have to demonstrate the viability of their investment proposals.