The preferred bidder for a proposed new subsea electricity cable to connect mainland Scotland to the Shetland isles has been announced.
The consortium is a joint project between National Grid Interconnector Holdings and Aggreko for a project which comprises a 60MW high voltage direct current subsea cable link to the GB electricity network, alongside on-island backup generation.
The proposed 180 mile link will run from Dounreay in Caithness to Scalloway on Shetland’s Mainland with a further underground cable to Gremista, near Lerwick, where the back-up generators will be housed.
Once operational, it will provide a reliable electricity network supply for Shetland for at least 20 years.
In line with the agreed regulatory process to establish Shetland’s new energy solution, SSEN has now made a formal recommendation to the energy regulator, OFGEM to approve the proposal.
The next stage in the process will be a period of public consultation by OFGEM this summer to give all stakeholders, including the people of Shetland, the opportunity to comment on the proposed solution and the regulatory arrangements.
If regulatory approval is granted, contracts are expected to be signed later in 2017 followed by a three-year delivery period before the new energy solution is operational, expected by the end of 2020.
Meanwhile, all Shetland’s electricity needs will continue to be met from existing generation sources on the islands, including Lerwick power station, which will remain operational until the new subsea cable is installed.
As Shetland is not currently connected to the electricity network that serves mainland Scotland, the islands currently have to be capable of meeting all of their own electricity needs 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
Perth-based SSE has been independently advised by specialist consultants, including the Renewables Consulting Group, Mott Macdonald, WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff and Baringa.
An SSEN spokesman said: “We are pleased to have reached this important milestone in securing the future of Shetland’s electricity supply”.