It has been warned that any delays to plans for an “electric superhighway” between Scotland and England could cost the taxpayer millions of pounds.
Designed to boost the UK’s renewables capacity, the initial 2 gigawatt (GW) subsea link will run from Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, to Yorkshire on the east coast of England.
With an energisation date of 2029, and at an estimated investment of around £2.1bn, the project is being taken forward as a joint venture with NGET.
SSEN Transmission, a subsidiary of SSE, has described the link as “essential” to alleviating constraints on the UK transmission system, enabling growth in renewables and supporting the transition to net zero.
It will also support hundreds of green jobs, playing a key role in the green recovery from Covid-19.
And the company has warned that, for every year the link is not in place, hundreds of millions of pounds of consumers money will be paid out in constraint payments to electricity generators unable to export to the grid.
It is therefore “vital” that there are no delays to the delivery of this “critical national infrastructure”, SSEN Transmission said.
In order to allow for a competitive tender process, an “early decision” on the scheme is needed to deliver the “best price” for consumers.
Rob McDonald, managing director of SSEN Transmission, said: “Submission of the Final Needs Case for the East Coast HVDC link from Peterhead to Selby marks a key milestone in our collective net zero ambitions. In all credible future energy scenarios, it is beyond question that this link is required to alleviate current and future constraints on the GB transmission system.
“Building on Ofgem’s timely approval of the Initial Needs Case, we look forward to working constructively with the regulator and wider stakeholders to unlock the investment required for this vital project and in doing so, provide the certainty that is required to secure the supply chain and deliver the best price for GB consumers.”
If approved, the FNC will be followed by the project assessment, which will determine the level of investment requirement for the project.
SSEN Transmission’s investment in the East Coast HVDC link is part of the SSE’s recently announced net zero acceleration programme.
Under the plans, £12.5 billion will be invested in the five years to 2026, the equivalent of £7 million every day.
SSEN Transmission alone expects to invest around £4bn over this period as it aims to deliver a network for net zero in the north of Scotland.
To further support the forecast growth in renewables, particularly offshore wind, a second HVDC link from Peterhead to England is also planned.
An Ofgem spokesman said: “We want to make sure the right infrastructure is in place to allow us to stride towards net zero so we can reduce costs where necessary and enable growth in renewables.
“The final needs case for the eastern link was submitted to Ofgem on December 22, and we look forward to reviewing the submission and engaging productively with the companies to enable us to make an informed decision on the future of this project.”