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'World's most productive onshore wind' plan in grid boost

Regulator says transmission line to Shetland can go ahead if 457MW Viking wins UK power deal

Plans for what developers claim will be the world’s most productive onshore wind farm were boosted when the UK’s regulator said it is set to approve a transmission link to Scotland’s Shetland, where the 457MW project would be built.

Energy regulator Ofgem said it is “minded” to approve a 600MW, £709m ($938m) link to the islands off northern Scotland, where a project company led by UK utility SSE hopes to build the Viking Wind Farm.

Viking Energy eyes 4MW turbines to boost UK CfD chance

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But Ofgem said final approval would depend on Viking winning a contract-for-difference (CfD) deal in the next UK renewable energy auction, when as a ‘remote island’ project it will be one of the few onshore wind farms eligible to compete with the giant offshore projects expected to dominate the round, scheduled for late May.

The regulator said a successful bid by Viking would “protect consumers from the risk of paying for a link that it is bigger than needed”.

Viking’s developer – which said Ofgem’s decision was a “big step forward” – wants the project to “become the most productive onshore wind farm in the world” as it taps into offshore-wind-like resources available on Shetland, 170km out into the North Sea.

Viking has applied to vary the terms of its original 2012 consent to use turbines with a maximum tip height of 155-metres. The developer said that would allow it to use “market-leading” 4MW-plus machines and increase its potential to compete successfully in the CfD round.

The wind farm is facing a challenge from Britain’s Ministry of Defence (Mod) over potential interference with military radar, but the project company said it is “confident” of finding a solution.

There was less good news for 'remote island' wind plans on Scotland's Western Isles, where Ofgem said it would reject current proposals for a transmission link on the grounds of cost to consumers.

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