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Scotland’s electricity distribution networks invest £48m in green energy


By Calum MacLeod

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One of the many EV charge hubs being installed by SSEN.
One of the many EV charge hubs being installed by SSEN.

The investment in 23 projects over the next two years will help achieve a green economic recovery

Work is part of massive change needed to ready the grid for huge increase in demand as electrification of heat and transport gathers pace

Projects will upgrade parts of the network to provide additional electrical capacity in areas where we are expecting growth in low carbon technologies

Scotland’s electricity distribution networks are to receive an investment of £48 million through Ofgem’s Green Recovery Fund.

This will support 23 projects over the next two years to deliver the network infrastructure required to support Scotland’s low carbon future and help accelerate a green economic recovery.

The energy networks, owned by SP Energy Networks in Central and Southern Scotland and by Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) Distribution in the north of Scotland and island regions, play a critical role in Scotland achieving its climate change ambition.

The network is at the heart of the electrification of transport, decarbonisation of heating and buildings and connecting more wind and solar energy generation than ever before.

The investment will create just under 200MW of electrical capacity across Scotland’s energy networks. This is expected to enable up to 500 domestic electric vehicle (EV) chargers, over 200 rapid or ultra-rapid vehicle chargers, 1500 domestic heat pumps as well as projects to support the accelerated roll-out of electric buses, electric ferries and electric flight.

Clean energy powered aviation is one of the areas which will receive investment.
Clean energy powered aviation is one of the areas which will receive investment.

This includes a £2.7 million investment by SSEN in the network near Kirkwall in Orkney, to install a new primary electricity substation and 16km of overhead power lines, creating 7.3MW of additional network capacity in the local area. Alongside enabling growth of EVs and heat pumps, the investment will support the development of the UK’s first low carbon, operationally-based aviation test centre at Kirkwall Airport, which will conduct important electric flight trials.

Scotland's cabinet secretary for net zero, energy and transport Michael Matheson said: “Scotland is wholly committed to becoming a net zero economy by 2045, and doing so in a way that is just and fair for all. I strongly welcome this investment in Scotland’s energy networks, which will help our progress towards decarbonisation while ensuring that the economic and social benefits of the energy transition are realised across the country.

“We have worked closely with our stakeholders to support the strong and successful bids from Scotland’s network companies for this substantial funding. These projects and investments will support further innovation in green energy, unlocking capacity in our networks to support electrification of transport as well as other technologies like battery storage, renewables and heat pumps.

“Today’s announcement by Ofgem is the product of an agile approach to investment and we must now build on this to ensure that our networks remain capable of supporting Scotland’s net-zero transition.”

Chris Burchell, SSEN Distribution's managing director, commented: “We are determined to play our full part in addressing the twin challenges of the economic and social recovery from coronavirus and the impending climate emergency, where local electricity networks will play a vital role. With COP26 on the horizon, today’s investment demonstrates how collaborative action and regulatory flexibility can help us achieve this aim and power change for our customers and for society.

“The green recovery scheme provides a blueprint for future agile investment in our networks in the coming years, where rapid progress will be required to keep pace with net zero. By undertaking £40 million in strategic network investment now, we are helping unlock innovative low-carbon projects at the right time, boosting local economies and supporting communities to achieve their net zero ambitions.”

Each project has been selected for the contribution it will make towards driving a green economic recovery, achieving Net Zero and delivering a resilient and reliable energy network that will work for energy consumers now and well into the future.


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