Subsea energy link for Shetland given green light

A 600MW subsea electricity transmission link from Shetland to mainland Scotland has been given the go-ahead by the regulator.

The Shetland subsea project has been given the go-ahead by Ofgem.

Ofgem has approved a proposal by Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) to build the link which would allow new wind farms on Shetland to export renewable electricity to the rest of Great Britain and help ensure supply of electricity on the islands.

The cable will also mean that electricity can be imported to Shetland, offering power security for the island once the power station in Lerwick has been switched off in five years time.

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However, Ofgem’s approval is subject to receiving sufficient evidence by the end of 2020 that the 457MW Viking Energy Wind Farm project planned for Shetland is likely to go ahead.

It previously rejected the link, saying in October that the failure of the projects to secure subsidies meant it was not able to approve it and another from the Western Isles, but said it would consider revised plans. That came six months after it had originally said it was minded to approve the Shetland proposals.

Ofgem regulates network companies including SSEN, which is a subsidiary of SSE. All energy consumers pay for the cost of investment in new network capacity through their energy bills.

Jonathan Brearley, chief executive of Ofgem, said: “Ofgem’s immediate focus is to support the energy industry so it can respond effectively to the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure consumers, especially the vulnerable, are protected.

“Today’s announcement will help stimulate economic growth as the economy recovers from COVID 19, as well as unlocking Shetland’s potential to supply low cost renewable electricity for consumers across Great Britain.”

Ofgem has launched an eight week consultation on the link.

A spokesman for SSEN said: “SSEN Transmission welcomes the publication of Ofgem’s consultation setting out its minded-to position to approve a 600MW transmission connection from Shetland to the GB mainland.

“As well as unlocking Shetland’s renewable potential, the link would help address Shetland’s security of supply needs as well as offering Shetland’s oil and gas sector a unique opportunity to decarbonise its operational electricity requirements, delivering a whole system approach to support the transition to net zero emissions.”

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