The first 100km of a new subsea cable linking Shetland with the UK’s mainland grid has been successfully installed following a four-month campaign.
The cable forms part of SSEN Transmission’s £660 million Shetland High Voltage Direct-Current (HVDC) link project, which would see the islands’ grid connected to the UK mainland for the first time via a new 260km subsea cable.
The long-promised project is also aimed at unlocking Shetland’s potential for exporting future renewable energy generation, particularly as SSE Renewables’ 443MW Viking wind farm is due online, and is slated to be completed by 2024.
Work on the scheme started in July, with the HVDC cable successfully pulled-in to where it makes landfall at Noss Head near Wick, using specialist cable-laying vessel NKT Victoria.
Here it was installed onto the seabed as the vessel made its way out to sea to a point east of the Orkney Isles.
Once installed on the seabed, where possible it was trenched into position using Grand Canyon III, a multi-role construction support vessel with a specialist subsea jet trencher.
Teams have also now completed installation of onshore cable components in Shetland, marking the completion of all onshore cabling works.
A second campaign is now expected to begin in spring 2023, during which another 57km of cable will be laid from Weisdale Voe on Shetland heading south into the North Sea.
A third campaign will take place later in 2023, which will complete the link between the first two lengths, joining all three together and completing the full 260km link.
SSEN Transmission lead project manager Chris Finnigan said the company was “delighted” the first stage of works was complete.
“It has been a complex operation involving multiple parties, and we’re really pleased that this first campaign has been completed safely and successfully.”
“At the same time the team has successfully completed the land cable installation works between the shoreline at Noss Head to the new HVDC Switching Station as well as on Shetland, marking a huge achievement and a massive milestone for the project.
“It’s another significant leap forward for the Shetland HVDC link project and builds further on the excellent progress to date.”
Mr Finnigan said the team’s focus was now on completing rock placement and planning for next year’s installation campaigns.
“As always, we thank the local community and stakeholders both onshore and offshore respectively for their cooperation and understanding while we continue with this crucial project, and as ever we’ll work to keep them informed as we move through the phases of the Shetland HDVC link project.”