One of the projects is giant Viking Wind Farm, a partnership between renewable energy company SSE and the authorities in Shetland.
On the islands, which are closer to Norway than London, work is now underway to become independent of the oil and gas, the energy sources they have so far relied on.
The Wave Power Project in Orkney is producing enough energy to supply electricity to about 2,000 homes.
Not only will it provide access to a renewable energy source for the residents there, but it will contribute to technological development.
“Half a billion tons of seawater moves through the station per hour, so it’s a really good place to test these turbines,” says Daniel Wise, president of the company behind the Orbital Marine Power plant.
Large stone structures in Shetland and the Orkney Islands attest to the younger Stone Age, but now wind turbines are being constructed that point into a more sustainable future.
Many describe the Orkney Islands as a living laboratory, says Jerry Gibson at Emec Research Center, which tests the potential of wave and tidal force as an energy source.
“We have many testing facilities and different companies working together in this green economy we live in,” he says.
The Emec project produces green hydrogen from renewable sources using tidal turbines and seawater electrolysis. The testing facility is located on Eday, one of the uninhabited islands of the 20 Orkney Islands.
The hydrogen is transported to Kirkwall, where it is converted into electricity for ferries.
predictable and green
The nearly unstoppable access to wind and marine power means the Orkney Islands produce more energy than the residents there use.
“Hydrogen is important because it’s a different way to store energy than using batteries or plugging into an electric current,” Gibson says.
On Yale, one of the North Shetland Islands, another company, Nova Innovation, is investing in tides.
The beauty of tidal force is that they are completely predictable. I know that tomorrow and in 2,000 years, a lot will flow through the canal here. It doesn’t depend on the weather, says Tom Wells at the company’s management.
They have set up a charging station for electric cars. One of its users, Fiona Nicholson, says it’s great to see that the wild sea you see every day can be used for something useful.
– We see and hear the sea every day and feel its power, she says.
Giant wind project
Oil is still important. The Sullom Voe oil terminal on the main island of Shetland is one of the largest in Europe. North Sea oil has had mounting economic impacts on society.
Some renewable investments are also controversial. Like the winds of the Vikings. The Viking Wind Farm will have 103 turbines by 2023, which will be able to produce enough electricity for about 475,000 homes.
The company believes that the project can reduce emissions equivalent to half a million tons of carbon dioxide each year. But many locals are critical of the project and have been fighting against the project in the judiciary since 2012.
– If there was a reasonable size of the wind farm, I don’t think anyone would have reacted. Donnie Morrison, who lives in a house that will soon be surrounded by wind turbines, says it’s too big to get ridiculous.
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