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Some Sobering Facts - Viking Energy Wind Farm

I go through phases when I'm obsessed with facts about the Viking Energy Wind Farm in Shetland. Perhaps this compulsion to collect information is fuelled by my disbelief - I cannot comprehend the scale; I cannot understand the way some people, including those who gave the green light for consent here in Shetland, unthinkingly accept information without questioning the veracity of the facts, from the potential consequences of the human and environmental impact involved as well as the ethics behind decisions to impose inappropriate developments on communities without fair processes for decision making.

Corporate propaganda is characteristic of extractivism, the phenomenon that is happening under our noses in Shetland and throughout Scotland. I'll write more about extractivism in future. In this post I simply want to share some facts, proudly provided by Viking Energy in their regular newsletters circulated through our weekly paper, The Shetland Times, and available on the Viking Energy web site.

Each wind turbine is assembled from ten sections: a base, the tower which comprises 3 sections, 3 blades (60 meters in length each), a nacelle, a drivetrain and a hub; the total weight is 456,228 kg.  (Photos: Roxane Permar, SSE Renewables and Vestas)

It's difficult to comprehend the scale of the turbines. I share the three photographs immediately below with kind permission from Angela Irvine. They give some idea of the scale of the blades and show some of the detail which is not visible from a distance in the landscape. (Photos: Angela Irvine)

It took 6 months to transport all the components to the wind farm site from the Greenhead Base in Lerwick with 280 convoys, 6 days each week, 7 am to 3 pm, February to August 2023. A haulage company from mainland Scotland provided the vehicles and personnel to undertake the journey, and a specialist team from Police Scotland came up to co-ordinate the convoys, with the turbine manufacturer Vestas being responsible for safely managing the process of getting the components from their factories to Lerwick and then to the Viking site. (Photos: SSE, Shetland News, The Shetland Times)

The foundation for each turbine required 24,084.6 cubic feet of concrete, the equivalent of approximately three average size 3-bedroom houses, filled floor to ceiling, wall to wall - that is approximately 1700 tonnes per foundation (including turret).

In total 30,076 tonnes of cement were used, which required 1,037 tanker loads brought to Shetland after collection in Aberdeen.

107,000 litres of water were used per base, making 11,000,000 litres of water in total used for the bases.  719 tonnes of aggregates were used per each foundation, 74,057 tonnes in total.  And, lastly, 564 tonnes of sand were used per each foundation, 58,092 tonnes in total. The sand was imported from Glensanda (Oban) via boat to Lerwick Port; 10 boat loads in total were taken to Shetland.

I was staggered by the fact that there are 800 km of cables being installed underground just to transport the electricity from the different turbine arrays to the wind farm substation at Upper Kergord.  

Additionally there will be many miles of cables, both underground and above ground, to take power from Kergord to the substation in Lerwick so a bit of the energy can be used for Shetland. I have taken hundreds of photos of the cable laying.

And we can't forget the cables, both overground and underground, which will connect the other onshore, and presumably also the offshore, wind farms proposed in Shetland. The overground components are delivered by helicopter, subcontracted to Norpower whose staff all live on the Scottish Mainland and fly in and out of Shetland to do the work, a process typical of extractivist projects in remote geographical locations and used for this development as well previous projects in Shetland, including the construction of the Sullom Voe Oil Terminal and more recently the Shetland Gas Plant operated by TotalEnergies.

And lastly, of course, there is the 260 km subsea cable from Shetland to Caithness. Below are two photographs. The first shows the HVDC cable being launched from the vessel NKT Victoria before being pulled into position by the smaller boat at Weisdale Voe, Shetland. The second shows the NKT Victoria as it began to lay the first 100km of cable off the coast of Caithness. It is worth noting that recently SSEN Transmission has requested a modification necessary for SSEN to seek consent for additional rock to be added to the seabed because it is "thought that around 30 per cent more rock will be needed than initially expected for the protection of the subsea HVDC transmission link between Shetland and the Scottish mainland for areas more than 12 miles away from shore. The cable itself has been laid, and the final pieces of work include protecting the link, such as with rock. SSEN Transmission has consent for using around 245,000 tonnes of rock outside the ’12 mile limit’, but due to changes on the seabed it is now anticipating using nearly 320,000 tonnes in these areas – an increase of around 30 per cent."

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