The long-awaited 600MW transmission link from Shetland to the mainland has been provisionally approved by Ofgem.
The project will link the isles to the mainland electricity network for the first time.
Shetland’s current electricity needs are met from on-island sources, predominately Lerwick Power Station.
But as that diesel-fueled generator is nearing the end of its operational life, efforts are being made to secure an alternative to meet future energy demand.
Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) have welcomed the decision, which is subject to key renewable developments – such as the proposed Viking Energy Windfarm – securing Contracts for Difference (CfD) support at this year’s auction.
If completed, the project will consist of a single 600MW subsea circuit from Kergord to Noss Head in Caithness, connecting into SSEN’s recently completed Caithness-Moray transmission link.
SSEN managing director Colin Nicol said: “Ofgem’s decision to provisionally approve SSEN’s 600MW proposed transmission link is an important milestone in connecting Shetland to the mainland electricity network and helping to unlock its significant renewables potential.
“There are still a number of steps to be taken before we can proceed with the transmission connection, in particular, the requirement for renewable developments to secure CfD support in this year’s auction, and we will continue to engage with key stakeholders during this consultation period.”
SSEN argues there have been no regulatory impact assessments undertaken specifically relating to the application “of this untested model to this project”.
The network operator says it will continue to engage with Ofgem.
Mr Nicol added: “We also await clarity from Ofgem on their assessment of our proposed whole system solution. This decision will be important in reducing costs for consumers and securing the best economic case for delivery of renewable development in Shetland and Scotland’s other island groups.”
A consultation is open until 3rd May.