Fuel Poverty

Shetland is not connected to the UK Mainland gas distribution grid, therefore the main fuel sources for heating in Shetland are electricity and oil, with around 8% of domestic energy consumption provided from the Lerwick District Heating Scheme. This fuel mix combined with the higher than average energy consumption as a result of a lower building density, poor building energy performance and a cold windy climate result in energy bills of over twice the national energy price guarantee.

Renewable Resources

Shetland has an immense potential for renewable energy resources especially for wind and ocean energy sources. The Viking Wind Farm is one of the UK’s largest onshore renewable energy developments, situated on the rolling hills of mainland Shetland. The site will consist of 103 turbines and have a capacity of 443 MW, far exceeding the energy demand of Shetland. With the planned, developing, and established onshore energy generation projects, Shetland will produce over 700 MW of wind energy. The full amount of energy that could be generated off the coast of Shetland has not yet been fully determined, but the potential resource is very high. The recent Scotwind round led to the licensing for 2.8 GW of offshore wind, and the existing tidal array in the Bluemull Sound will be expanded to Yell Sound with a 15MW array.

Shetland has proven to be innovative in its energy solutions. In addition to renewable energy deployments, Shetland has a long established district heating scheme that provides heating to 900 domestic properties and 300 non domestic properties in Lerwick. The main heat source for the district heating scheme is the energy recovery plant, with surplus heat from the Lerwick Power Station, and diesel generators required to meet peak demand and when the energy recovery plant is shut down for maintenance.

The islands of Foula and Fair Isle have their own grid networks that are separate from Mainland Shetland.

Grid Limitations

While Shetland has never been connected to the GB electricity grid, this is set to change in 2024 when a 600MW interconnector will be commissioned linking the Shetland grid to the GB grid at Caithness. The current peak demand for electricity in Shetland is nearly 48MW partially met from the 12.3 MW installed renewables capacity. The majority of the renewable energy connected to the distribution network were enabled by the NINES project which established Active Network Management in Shetland allowing curtained grid connections for renewable energy generators along with battery storage. Elements of the NINES project have gone on to be replicated in other areas.

The distribution grid in Shetland will continue to be restricted following the transmission connection to the mainland. The expected production of 700MW onshore wind exceeds the local electricity demand and the interconnector capacity by around 50 MW. As the planned and developing generation is in excess of the interconnector capacity there will continue to be a need to look at how best to use, store and transport energy. Hydrogen production could be enabled by this limitation to the grid, optimising renewable generation and reducing curtailment.