SSE told to amend plans for mainland renewables link

A GE-Alstom wind turbine.
A GE-Alstom wind turbine.

Energy regulator Ofgem has asked SSE Networks (SSEN) to make alterations to a plan for a high voltage energy link from Orkney to the Scottish mainland.

The £260 million electricity link has been proposed to allow new island wind farms and tidal power projects on Orkney to send electricity to the rest of the UK.

Ofgem claims it has asked SSEN to make changes to the plan to “protect consumers”.

The regulator said SSEN’s proposals “do not do enough” to safeguard customers from the risks of paying for a link that is bigger than required.

Ofgem has recommended a planning model whereby SSEN’s revenue from the mainland connector is tied to cutting costs of connecting offshore wind farms to the grid by tendering the ownership of the links.

The proposed 220 megawatt (MW) connection is estimated to be completed by 2020.

SSEN claims the proposed transmission cable is the “best possible opportunity to unlock Orkney’s renewable potential”.

Liam McArthur, MSP for Orkney, said: “Orkney’s potential in terms of renewable energy is widely recognised. For this to be realised, however, will require investment in grid infrastructure.

“Ofgem’s consultation on the proposed high voltage link to the Scottish mainland is welcome, but there is still work to do to ensure SSEN’s proposals meet the needs and reflect the concerns of the local community in Orkney.”