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Contractors given local SME directory for UK to Norway interconnector

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The developer behind the UK to Norway interconnector project has assembled a local SME directory to help its tier one contractors develop a local supply chain. 

NorthConnect project manager Fiona Milligan told New Civil Engineer that the project was promoting a local supply chain to keep component and services costs down, to offset the expense of importing high voltage cables from abroad. 

“One of the things we recognise in this work is that some of the largest parts and components are just not able to be sourced from inside the UK, we don’t have the capability to produce cable in the level and quantity this project requires,” Milligan told New Civil Engineer.

“One of the things we are keen to see is sustainable economic development in the areas we are working in, so we try and encourage as much local content as possible.”

She added: “We started off in May 2018 with a series of ‘meet the buyer’ days, and have been attending conferences to get the word out that this project is coming.

“We have taken all the information from those suppliers that expressed interest, put that all together and included that as a ‘supply directory’ alongside our invitations to tender so there was a list ready and waiting [for tier one contractors]. For example, whoever is doing the cabling contracts, if they wanted to see in the local area who is doing guard vessel duty, they could find all of the companies from the list and get in touch with them directly –and those companies would know exactly what the work will be”.

The 665km NorthConnect interconnector will have a 1400MW capacity and will run from Simadalen in Norway, across the North Sea to Long Haven Bay, just south of Peterhead in Scotland.

There will be a transformer at the Peterhead substation with similar infrastructure on the Norwegian landfall at Sima at the end of Hardangerfjord.

NorthConnect head of permitting and agreements Richard Blanchfield told New Civil Engineer that the complex nature of the onshore works meant a lot of work for local SMEs.

“The actual building, the other mechanican and electrical infrastructure, pumps and pipeworks and cooling equipment and building services make [the Peterhead substation] more like a powerstation than an outdoor substation,” said Blanchfield. “There is a lot more to the site than the cable equipment, it’s these elements that add substantial value to local suppliers.”

The project has onshore and near-shore planning permission and is awaiting approval from Marine Scotland. A foreign trade license for the project is also being considered this year in Norway.

NorthConnect is jointly owned by Swedish energy group Vattenfall and three Norwegian companies, E-CO Energi, Agder Energi and Lyse.

The UK has several interconnector projects in the pipeline. The latest project to be completed was Nemo Link, which started operating last month

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