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Subsea cable approval will provide a post-Covid boost to the north economy

By John Davidson

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A SUBSEA electricity cable which will help safeguard Shetland's energy supply and allow the islands to export green power to mainland Scotland has been approved by energy regulator Ofgem.

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) subsidiary Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission (SHE-T) wants to build a 600MW High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) subsea transmission link which it believes bring benefits to Shetlanders and mainlanders alike.

It will facilitate the connection of renewable electricity developments on Shetland, including SSE Renewables’ 443 MW Viking wind farm which reached a final investment decision last month.The link will also support Shetland’s future security of supply needs and will connect Shetland to the main GB electricity system for the first time and represents a material cost saving for consumers.

Approval is conditional on Ofgem being satisfied, by the end of 2020, that the 103 turbine Viking wind farm is likely to go ahead. Once complete, this would be the UK's largest onshore wind farm by annual energy output.

SSE chief executive Alistair Phillips-Davies said Ofgem’s decision marked a significant milestone in delivering a "whole system" solution to meet Shetland’s future needs, as well supporting the UK's transition to net zero emissions.

“It has been a long journey, but with a combined investment in excess of £1 billion, the construction of the subsea transmission link, all associated onshore infrastructure and the Viking Energy wind farm will deliver substantial socio-economic and environmental benefits to Shetland’s, Scotland’s and the UK’s economy, supporting hundreds of skilled jobs in the process," he said.

With all necessary regulatory and planning approvals now in place, SSE says that construction of the subsea link, all associated onshore transmission infrastructure and Viking wind farm will scale up in the coming weeks, providing an immediate boost to the green recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

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