Energy giant signs deal with Shetland to build huge wind farm

THE power giant Scottish and Southern Energy yesterday signed a historic agreement to build Europe's largest community-backed wind farm on Shetland, in a major boost for the economy of the Northern Isles.

The deal will lead to the development of 200-turbine wind farm capable of generating 600 megawatts of electricity, making the scheme the most productive renewable energy development in Europe.

The final go-ahead for the 500 million development, however, will hinge on Scottish Executive approval for the collaborative venture and the construction of a 400 million undersea cable, linking the islands' electricity network to the Scottish mainland for the first time.

The wind farm at Muckle Moor will be capable of generating enough electricity to power 125,000 homes.

The memorandum of understanding was signed yesterday by representatives of SSE Generation, the renewable energy subsidiary of Scottish and Southern Energy, and Viking Energy, the company formed to represent Shetland Islands Council's interests in wind energy development on the islands.

SSE Generation and Viking Energy have already lodged separate proposals for 300 megawatt wind farms on mainland Shetland but the two developments would be combined under the deal.

A spokeswoman for SSE said: "Viking Energy's involvement would make the 600 megawatt scheme the largest community-backed wind farm development in Europe."