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Shetland: Plans to connect Sullom Voe Terminal to the electricity grid

Publication: Shetland News

Sullom Voe terminal sign
Sullom Voe Terminal. Photo by Shetland News | Licensed for use on Scottish Beacon | All rights reserved

Shetland will be connected to the national electricity grid for the first time in the coming years, when the 100MW gas-fired power station is switched off.

The initial stages of a project to connect Sullom Voe Terminal (SVT) to the electricity grid and switch off its own gas-fired power station have begun.

The 100MW power station is due to be decommissioned in 2025.

A screening request to see if the proposals would need an environmental impact assessment (EIA) has been submitted to Shetland Islands Council’s planning service. It highlights new infrastructure will be needed for a grid-based solution, including underground cabling and a 33kV switching compound at SVT.

Shetland is due to be connected to the national electricity grid for the first time in the coming years thanks to a new 600MW subsea transmission link, which is under construction.

That project will enable the 67MW Lerwick Power Station, which is run on diesel, to go into standby mode in 2025. A battery storage system is also set to be built nearby, which could be used if the transmission link has an outage and the Lerwick station needs time to power up.

By this time, the 443MW Viking Energy wind farm in Shetland’s Central Mainland will have begun generating electricity.

The SVT station, operating on a derogation which is due to expire at the end of 2025, provides surplus electricity to Shetland’s grid as well as powering the oil terminal site.

It was reported that EnQuest was considering constructing a number of wind turbines on the terminal site to augment the existing electricity supply. Terminal operator EnQuest plans to rework its processing facilities to make the infrastructure footprint smaller and reflect “substantially” reduced production rates compared to the site’s heyday some decades ago.

It comes as EnQuest proposes to host new energy production on-site amid declining oil throughput, such as hydrogen.

The EIA screening request said a “grid-based solution has been selected as the most suitable option for supplying the site with power in future”.

Writing on behalf of EnQuest, Aurora Planning Limited said it felt that the proposed development “is not likely to have any significant negative effects on the environment”.

It said the infrastructure is “relatively small scale” and the project intends to make “better use of resources” than the current power plant.

The document also said it is in keeping with existing infrastructure within SVT in terms of its nature and design and that replacing the existing power plant would “reduce HSE major accident hazard risks”.

The terminal first took in oil in the late 1970s, and at its peak, it was processing more than 1.5 million barrels of oil a day.

It takes oil from fields to the east and west of Shetland, with tankers stopping by to fill up before shipping it elsewhere to refineries.

But as production declines in waters around Shetland, the terminal is much quieter than it used to be.The long-term plan is for SVT to turn into a “green energy site”.