Dear Orkney News,
It was welcome news to read the press release from Orbital Marine Power announcing the installation of its 2MW output O2 device at the Falls of Warness site. This brings back to mind the debate on renewable energy installations in Orkney, around the type, siting and overall benefit to Orkney. I personally love the sight of Wind Turbines but I am not convinced that the proposed mega-turbines onshore in Orkney are the best choice for our renewable future. In order to get the new export cables across the Pentland Firth we are being effectively told we must accept major new infrastructure on our landscape with the disruption such building entails, but that the operators of turbines that currently exist will not get access to this new network and will continue to suffer from loss of revenue due to curtailment.
The Orbital project has returned me to the concept of a marine “Ring Main” for Orkney to allow the production potential of our waters to be harnessed, with much lower visual impact and less disruption onshore from Grid installation works. The other big benefit for Orkney would be from income generated by the growing Marine Renewable sector. The new onshore Turbines are likely to produce little or no long term employment benefits locally, whereas Marine Renewables already support a thriving local business sector which can only grow with each new production installation. One extra benefit could be gained if the marine “Ring Main” is routed via Flotta. This would allow for the Oil Terminal site to be repurposed as a Hydrogen production facility utilising the electricity generated by the marine devices. I feel that OIC could and should consider my proposal as an alternative to their onshore wind plans, and I hope that the Islands Deal team are considering something similar.