Final piece in the jigsaw to connect all three of Scotland’s main island groups
Connections will unlock huge volumes of low carbon power, supporting net zero and energy security targets
Links will also boost local security of supply and deliver significant boost to local and national economies
SSEN Transmission welcomes today’s publication by Ofgem in which the energy regulator has provisionally approved long awaited and much needed plans to provide a subsea electricity transmission link to Orkney.
The Orkney Islands are home to some of the world’s greatest resources of renewable electricity, from established onshore wind, to emerging marine technologies, where Orkney is at the forefront of global developments in marine energy generation.
Following significant growth in small-scale renewable electricity generation in Orkney, the local electricity network has long been at full capacity and no new electricity generation can connect without significant reinforcements.
In March 2018, SSEN Transmission submitted investment plans to Ofgem to build a new subsea transmission link to provide the additional capacity needed to meet the demand of Orkney renewable developers. In September 2019, Ofgem set a series of conditions Orkney renewable developers had to satisfy prior to the regulator approving the investment case.
Following the consent of Faray Wind Farm in December 2022, those conditions have now largely been met and today’s decision by Ofgem paves the way to connect Scotland’s final island group to the GB Transmission network. This follows Ofgem’s approval of the Western Isles link in December 2022 and work to connect Shetland which is already well underway.
SSEN Transmission’s proposed solution would enable the connection of up to 220MW of new renewable electricity and consists of a new substation at Finstown in Orkney, and around 57km of subsea cable, connecting to a new substation at Dounreay in Caithness.
All planning consents are in place for the point-to-point connection, with work underway to plan the on-island infrastructure required to connect and transport Orkney renewable generators to Finstown substation, before onward transmission to demand centres in the north of Scotland and beyond.
Rob McDonald, Managing Director of SSEN Transmission, said:
“Scotland’s island groups are home to some of world’s greatest resources of renewable energy and we have long supported the need to provide transmission connections to help unlock their abundant potential.
“We are delighted Ofgem has provisionally approved our well-advanced plans for a new transmission link to Orkney, which is a hugely significant milestone in finally unlocking Orkney’s vast renewable potential and is the final piece in the jigsaw in connecting Scotland’s three main island groups.
“We would like to thank Ofgem for its constructive engagement over recent weeks and months and we now look forward to working with all stakeholders to deliver this long awaited and much needed investment, which will deliver significant local and national socio-economic benefits, as well as supporting 2030 Government targets, our future energy security and a pathway to net zero emissions.”