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SSEN seeks approval from Ofgem for 600MW Shetland transmission link, subject to Viking Wind Farm investment decision

By Staff Reporter

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A 600MW subsea electricity cable linking Shetland to mainland Scotland remains the best option, according to Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks Transmission (SSEN Transmission).

The network operator has resubmitted its investment case to the energy regulator for a proposed transmission link to Shetland.

Ofgem said last year it was minded to approve the 600MW link to Shetland on the basis that the 457MW Viking Wind Farm could be approved in the UK government's Contracts for Difference allocation round in September 2019.

However, Viking was not granted a CfD, casting doubt on the future transmission link to Shetland.

SSEN Transmission now says in its updated Needs Case that by connecting Kergord on the Shetland Isles to Noss Head on the Scottish mainland, the link would enable new renewable electricity generators on Shetland to export low carbon electricity to the GB market.

It would also help secure Shetland’s future electricity security of supply, with Lerwick Power Station, Shetland’s main current power source, expected to cease full operations in 2025.

As well as providing access to the GB electricity market for new renewables in Shetland, the link would also facilitate the supply of low-carbon electricity to Shetland’s oil and gas industry at a time when the sector is actively exploring ways to decarbonise its electricity demand requirements, SSEN Transmission argues.

It is now seeking regulatory approval for a 600MW transmission link, conditional on the Viking Wind farm reaching a positive final investment decision.

Commenting on the Needs Case, Rob McDonald, managing director for transmission, said: “We have submitted a robust investment case to Ofgem which makes it clear that a 600MW link remains the most economic, efficient and timely option to secure Shetland’s future energy needs.

“While we have listened to calls to consider delaying investment to develop a bigger link, our analysis shows that a bigger link would not be economic or efficient and would create a delay of at least two years, jeopardising the potential of any transmission link to Shetland proceeding.

“We now look forward to working constructively with Ofgem, our contracted developers and other stakeholders to progress the transmission link in a timely manner.”

Viking Energy welcomed the resubmission of the Needs Case, calling it another positive step after Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution’s contribution towards the capital cost of the new link was endorsed by Ofgem in December.

A spokesperson said: “Viking Wind Farm is a consented and shovel-ready project and Viking Energy now awaits a timely decision by Ofgem on this revised Needs Case in order to progress the project in line with its planned build programme.

“Despite not securing a Contract for Difference in the UK government’s auction for low-carbon power, Viking Energy remains fully committed to building the wind farm and intends taking a final investment decision as soon as possible. Enabling work on the project has already begun to ensure that it can proceed without delay when a final investment decision is reached.”

The transmission link is scheduled to be energised and operational by April 2024, subject to regulatory approval, and the Viking Wind Farm could be operational during the same year.

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