The first major step in securing a subsea transmission cable from Shetland to the mainland has taken place, with a “final needs case” being submitted to the energy regulator Ofgem by Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN).
The company’s proposal could deliver a single 600MW subsea circuit from Kergord to Noss Head in Caithness, connecting into the Caithness-Moray transmission link which is currently under construction.
Should it go ahead, the development could pave the way for large-scale renewable projects to export electricity to the GB market.
The transmission link is subject to the success of Shetland renewable developers in the Contracts for Difference (CfD) auction next May.
Dave Gardner, SSEN’s director of transmission, said: “Today marks a significant milestone in providing a transmission connection to Shetland.
“We believe our proposal represents a robust, economic case for reinforcement and provides the best possible opportunity to unlock Shetland’s renewable potential.
“The submission marks an important first step in the process, however successful delivery will be dependent on sufficient volumes of renewable generation capacity securing a CfD contract to underpin the investment case, in addition to regulatory approval and relevant planning consents.
“We would like to thank our generation customers and wider stakeholders who have helped inform the development of the Needs Case and we now look forward to working constructively with Ofgem as they review our submission.”
SSEN’s distribution business, Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution (SHEPD), is also investigating further options to ensure long term security of supply in the isles, following Ofgem’s decision to reject the Shetland New Energy Solution in November last year.
SHEPD is assessing whether use of the proposed transmission link to meet Shetland’s future energy needs would represent the best value compared with alternative options.
It comes after Viking Energy held an event in the Voe Public Hall this week to explain its thinking behind plans to install bigger than first anticipated turbines.
Viking’s head of development and strategy Aaron Priest said: “We have waited a long time to reach this significant milestone so it’s pleasing to see it happen today.
“Viking Wind Farm is an already consented ‘anchor’ project for the Shetland HVDC link, which would connect Shetland to the national electricity grid for the first time and provide an asset of long-term national strategic importance to the UK.
“A grid connection will allow Shetland to build a significant renewables industry to harness our world-class wind resource and bring clear economic, social and environmental benefits to the islands.
“Today’s announcement is a welcome boost for Viking Energy as it gears up to bid for a CfD power contract next May. If successful in the CfD auction, wind farm construction work could begin in spring 2020, bringing jobs and work for Shetland businesses.”