Major submarine power cable projects approved

New submarine cables are needed to supply electricity from offshore wind farms to the national grid

SSEN Transmission said a series of major projects planned for Scotland would help ease the UK’s energy crisis.

Ofgem has approved the need for four new high-voltage submarine cables to carry electricity from wind farms to the national grid.

One of the cables has been talked about for 17 years and would link the Western Isles to the Scottish mainland.

Two submarine cables would connect Peterhead in Aberdeenshire to England.

A fourth cable would run from Spittal to Caithness to Peterhead.

The projects, along with planned upgrades to power lines across Scotland, would help meet the UK government’s target of 50GW of offshore wind power by 2030.

Energy regulator Ofgem has approved the schemes as part of its Accelerated Strategic Investment Framework for Transmission.

Wind turbines

Wind turbines

Electricity giant SSEN Transmission said the projects could see investment from the wider SSE Group top £24billion this decade and lead to “directly alleviating the UK’s energy crisis”.

The company offered:

  • Two 2 GW high voltage direct current (HVDC) submarine links between Peterhead and England, both of which will be implemented as joint ventures with National Grid Electricity Transmission

  • A 2 GW submarine HVDC link from Spittal connecting to Peterhead

  • A 1.8 GW submarine HVDC cable from Arnish to Lewis in the West Island on the Scottish mainland to supply power to a substation at Beauly in the Highlands

  • Improvements to power lines between Beauly, Blackhillock, New Deer and Peterhead, between Beauly, Loch Buidhe and Spittal and between Kintore, Tealing and Westfield

  • Works on the existing Beauly to Denny line to enable 400 kV operation on both circuits

Rob McDonald, Director of SSEN Transmission, said: “Today’s release of the ASTI framework is a crucial step in supporting our collective ambitions of net zero emissions and energy security and we welcome Ofgem’s endorsement of the need investments needed to meet 2030 offshore wind targets.”

The Western Isle link is expected to lead to the expansion of onshore and offshore wind projects.

The islands’ local authority, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, said it would allow 420 MW of onshore wind generation at Lewis and 1.3 GW of offshore wind generation.

SSEN Transmission has been working on the cable project for almost 15 years but the comhairle has been calling for a link since 2005.

Paul Steele, Chief Comhairle, said: “The Islands have waited a long time for this great news.

“The Western Isles’ potential has long been talked about as a world-class renewable energy resource and that potential can now be harnessed for the benefit of the climate, UK energy security and our island economy.”

Councilor Calum Iain MacIver said there would also be opportunities for smaller community projects to sell their electricity to the grid.

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