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Nigg yard has key role in multimillion-pound SSEN Transmission subsea cable Shetland deal with Sumitomo Electric Industries

By Hector MacKenzie

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The Sumitomo deal is part of what backers say will be a major jobs boost for the Highlands with Shetland 2 the anchor project supporting the Japenese firm's investment in a new cable manufacturing facility in Nigg.Picture: SSEN Transmission
The Sumitomo deal is part of what backers say will be a major jobs boost for the Highlands with Shetland 2 the anchor project supporting the Japenese firm's investment in a new cable manufacturing facility in Nigg.Picture: SSEN Transmission

A MAJOR deal involving a new player at an Easter Ross fabrication yard has been announced as part of massive planned investment in electricity infrastructure.

Sumitomo Electric Industries is today starting work on their state-of-the-art subsea transmission cable factory at Nigg.

Sumitomo is hosting a symbolic ground-breaking ceremony at the Easter Ross site for its massive new factory.

SSEN Transmission, part of electricity infrastructure company SSE, has this morning announced it has selected Sumitomo Electric Industries and its subsea cable installation partner, Van Oord Offshore Wind UK, - the Sumitomo Electric Van Oord Consortium - as preferred bidder for the proposed Shetland 2 High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) link subsea cable.


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SSEN Transmission says the need for a second HVDC link from Shetland to the main GB transmission system was confirmed by the independent Electricity System Operator, National Grid ESO, as part of their latest GB wide strategic network plan, ‘Beyond 2030’.

As well as helping enable the connection of three ScotWind offshore wind farm sites adjacent to Shetland, Shetland 2 “will also support decarbonisation and energy security ambitions, alongside helping further secure Shetland’s future electricity needs”.

With Shetland 2 the anchor project supporting and enabling Sumitomo Electric Industries investment in their new cable manufacturing facility at Nigg, today’s announcement is being flagged as a hugely significant milestone in delivering hundreds of new highly skilled supply chain jobs in the Scottish Highlands.

Attracting inward investment into a UK-based manufacturing facility for such strategically important equipment is a major boost to the UK and Scottish Governments’ ability to secure cleaner, more secure energy for future generations, SSEN says, claiming it demonstrates the wider benefits of taking a long-term, joined up approach to delivering strategic investment in grid infrastructure which provides certainty to supply chain partners.

Rob McDonald, managing director of SSEN Transmission, said: “We are delighted to reach Preferred Bidder Status with Sumitomo Electric Industries and its subsea cable delivery partner, Van Oord Offshore Wind UK, for the manufacturer and installation of the Shetland 2 HVDC subsea link.

“Sumitomo’s investment in a new cable manufacturing facility in Nigg will help deliver a homegrown supply chain to help support our energy security and net zero infrastructure requirements. This is great news for the Highland economy and will support hundreds of skilled jobs in the region, helping unleash the economic potential the clean energy transition presents for the north of Scotland.

“We now look forward to concluding contractual negotiations with the Sumitomo Electric Van Oord Consortium in the coming week and months and in parallel, continuing constructive engagement with Ofgem, the UK and Scottish Governments, and wider stakeholders to establish the regulatory framework for Shetland 2 and the wider ‘Beyond 2030’ network investment recommendations.”

Osamu Inoue, President of Sumitomo Electric Group, said: “I am pleased to announce commencement of this innovative High-voltage cable factory in Scotland, and sincerely appreciate SSEN Transmission’s decision to select us as the preferred bidder of Shetland 2 project to enable our significant investment here in UK.

“Transmission cables are key essential infrastructures to make so called Energy Transition to renewables into reality. I believe, this factory will make good contributions towards establishment of local supply chains and to realise UK and Scottish Governments’ net zero initiatives.”

Arnoud Kuis, Managing Director Van Oord Offshore Wind, said: “As a consortium partner of Sumitomo Electric Industries, Van Oord Offshore Wind UK is very pleased to be nominated as the preferred contractor for the Shetland2 project by SSEN Transmission.

“The Sumitomo/Van Oord partnership exemplifies a synergy of expertise, driving forward a vision of sustainability, reliability, and excellence in building the energy infrastructure of the Shetland 2 project. We are very much looking forward to a successful collaboration with SSEN Transmission and making the Shetland2 project a success.”

Scottish Government Energy Secretary Màiri McAllan said: “Scotland is fast becoming a renewable energy powerhouse, providing opportunities to grow our economy and create jobs while protecting the environment.

“The Scottish Government is allocating up to £500 million to anchor the offshore wind supply-chain in Scotland, ensuring our workforce, businesses and communities all benefit from the offshore renewables revolution.

“This announcement by SSEN Transmission is a further vote of confidence in that process and follows yesterday’s significant investment by the Scottish National Investment Bank in Ardersier Port. The Shetland 2 contract would underpin Sumitomo’s decision to locate its first European cable factory at Nigg and support hundreds of jobs in the Highlands.”

UK Government Energy Security and Net Zero Minister, Justin Tomlinson, said: “A second undersea cable connecting Shetland to the Scottish mainland will add 1.8GW of clean wind-generated power to our grid.

“Scotland is a green energy powerhouse, and it is fantastic that Sumitomo Electric Industries will build the cable in the Scottish Highlands, creating hundreds more jobs and building up the local supply chain.

“Since 2010, we have delivered a five-fold increase in renewable power, the second highest amount in Europe, and connecting more renewable energy to the grid will allow the British public to benefit from cheaper clean power.”

Reaching preferred bidder status with Sumitomo Electric Van Oord Consortium (SVOC) follows SSEN Transmission’s successful procurement exercise last year, where SVOC was placed on SSEN Transmission’s Framework of Contractors.

Contractual negotiations with SVOC will continue in advance of entering into Capacity Reservation Agreements and thereafter, Contract Award status for the Shetland 2 scheme later this year. In parallel, SSEN Transmission awaits the GB energy regulator, Ofgem, concluding the development of the regulatory framework for Shetland 2 and other ‘Beyond 2030’ investments, with a decision on this expected shortly after.

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