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Scope for hydro?

Recently folk may have been aware of men in rubber boots near the site of a number of local burns. Representatives of sustainable energy advisors, IT Power, are currently carrying out feasibility studies into the prospect of micro-hydro generation in Shetland. Three sites in Northmavine are included in the study.

IT Power, a multi-national company based in Hampshire, has been awarded a collective contract that includes sixteen sites in the Western Isles and Shetland. Possible sites in Shetland for consideration stretch throughout the island from Quendale in the south mainland to Fetlar in the North Isles. Funding for the collective contract has been provided by Community Energy Scotland.

Generation of energy from micro hydro would have very little impact on the environment. Extracting energy from Shetlands most suitable burns would be undertaken using ?run of the river? systems. This means that expensive and environmentally damaging dams or weirs are not required.

The system would not store water, and although the supply may run at reduced capacity or cease during the summer months, the bulk of the supply would be produced during the winter months when the greatest amount of energy would be required. If Shetland proves a feasible site for hydro generation, the community would own each local project. Each community would develop the project and source possible funding. In return income would be generated through the new ?Feed In Tariff ?system as a reward for producing green energy. Although the generating capacity of burns in Shetland has yet to be determined, it is hoped that around 50kw could be produced from some of the better burns.

Work by IT Power will be divided into four phases. It is hoped the initial feasibility work will be complete by this summer after which some sites will be eliminated. Planning, screening and scoping will be carried out on the remaining projects, which may again result in some of the sites dropping out. Phase three will include detailed design of the system and an economic analysis of the proposal. The final phase will include support for planning applications and the necessary documentation for the final community project.

Northmavine Powerdown Officer, Colin Dickie, has been closely involved with the evolution of the feasibility study for Shetland. Colin said, ?This is an excellent opportunity for Shetland to harness yet more of its natural resources. Hydro power has been used here for hundreds of years because it has always been seen as a safe and reliable energy source. We look forward to seeing the outcome of the feasibility studies in the next few months?.