Energy regulator Ofgem has been accused of being “short sighted” following its ruling on plans for new interconnectors in the Shetland and Western Isles in Scotland.
Ofgem ruled in favour of the Shetland transmission link, a 600MW connection between the Shetland Islands and the mainland – connecting the islands to the UK national grid for the first time.
However, Ofgem kicked back SSEN plans for a second 600MW connector, from the mainland to the Scottish Western Isles with the regulator suggesting that a 450MW connection would be sufficient and that a 600MW link would be “significantly underutilised”.
The approved link will prove vital in connecting new renewables projects to the grid. The project will consist of a single 600MW subsea circuit from Kergord on Shetland to Noss Head in Caithness on the Scottish mainland, connecting into SSEN’s recently completed Caithness-Moray transmission link.
The western Isles link - which was rejected - was planned to connect remote renewable energy installations to the national grid, as well as open up potential for new projects
Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) managing director Colin Nicol branded Ofem as being “short sighted” over the regulator’s decision to reject the 600MW plan.
“Whilst we welcome Ofgem’s recognition of the need for network reinforcement, we strongly encourage them to reconsider and approve a 600MW link,” he said.
“A 450MW link would be short sighted, limiting the potential for community schemes to benefit from renewables expansion. Moving to a 450MW at this late stage also introduces risks and uncertainty which, in turn, could impact on the delivery of a transmission link to the Western Isles.”
Earlier this year, Scottish government agency, The Highlands and Islands Enterprise, has reported that aging infrastructure was holding the Scottish renewables market back, and recommended, among other points, new national grid connections to unlock the potential for new offshore wind, tidal, and wave energy projects.
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