Viking - a strong signal for a green recovery and a contribution to the UK net zero target


Nils de Baar
President of Vestas Northern & Central Europe 
Published on 6th of October 2020

Landmark wind project Viking - sending a strong signal for green recovery and contributing towards the UK net-zero target.

Renewables - such as onshore wind - play a key role in the energy transition and a 443 MW landmark wind project like Viking, getting reality in UK, sends a strong signal. Not only for the sustainable economic growth and green recovery in Shetland, but also for the UK and beyond.

Harnessing the excellent wind conditions on the Shetland Island, the Viking project will be the UK’s most productive onshore wind project in terms of annual electricity output that is almost 2 TWh each year; enough electricity to meet the needs of nearly 500,000 UK households while saving half a million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions each year.

Remaining one of the most cost competitive energy sources on a global scale, onshore wind can play a key role in contributing towards the UK’s 2050 net-zero target. Projections from Renewables UK show the country could need up to 35 GW of onshore wind by 2035 to meet this target.

The Viking project marks a significant step forward for onshore wind in the country at a time when renewable energy is setting new records providing almost 40 percent of the UK’s electricity, but to meet the objectives, the UK needs to set a target for onshore wind towards 2030 in parallel with it’s 40 GW offshore target that has proven to set a clear route to a low-cost decarbonisation.

The projects also confirm wind energy’s increasing competitiveness in the UK and represent a great step on the country’s transition towards renewable energy that we are very proud to be part of.

But the competitiveness of wind also depends on a planning policy that allows the latest and greatest technology. To path the way for a significantly increased efficiency and reduced levelized cost of energy, planning policy must allow for the latest wind energy turbine technology capable to leverage higher tip heights and larger rotors for an efficient energy production. 

In the long term the development will be towards more generous permits. I think it is a joint responsibility of the industry to work with planners, the public and other stakeholders to support more generous permitting. This will help bring down the cost of energy and in the end provide cleaner and cheaper electricity to the consumers.

As a first promising step, the UK government has reintroduced onshore wind to its CFD auction that will take place in summer 2021. Here 3 GW of onshore wind projects will be ready to compete in a technology neutral auction with solar.  The entire portfolio of “shovel ready” offshore, onshore and solar projects ready for next years’ auction is enough to power over 9 million homes while securing 22bn of new investment into the UK unlocking 13,700 green jobs with further jobs to follow for operations, maintenance and asset management.

With most analysts expecting the global demand for wind energy to continue to increase and even accelerate towards 2030, we continue to lead the transition towards a world powered by sustainable energy.