The upgrade was first proposed in 2001 under the guise of transmitting energy from the "Saudi Arabia of renewables" in the North of Scotland to the central belt and beyond. But the true reason for this 2.5GW line is to transmit nuclear power from Easter Ross to Denny.
SSE has made no secret of its pretensions towards nuclear, and realised there would be an uproar if another nuclear power station was built in the central belt, the then governing Labour Party's heartland. Nobody was going to listen to protests from a few Liberal Democrat-voting Highlanders. Of course, it was never in the script that the anti-nuclear SNP would form a government, but nevertheless, SSE seems to have pulled the wool over Messrs Salmond's and Mather's eyes.
Another clue is in the cost benefits of the 400 million line capable of carrying the full output of 1,250 wind turbines for just 16 per cent of the year. The remaining 18 per cent of wind-farm production will be in dribs and drabs at well below full capacity, making the expensive line under-used for 84 per cent of the time and dormant for up to 17 per cent of the year.
To be viable, the line must "buzz" with 2.5GW of electricity 24 hours a day, seven days a week – which renewables can never supply.
ANDREW H MACKAY