Ecosse Subsea scoops major sea-bed clearance contract for Highlands interconnector


Mike Wilson, Managing Director, Ecosse Subsea Systems
Mike Wilson, Managing Director, Ecosse Subsea Systems

Ecosse Subsea Systems has landed one of its largest sea-bed clearing and trenching contracts – from ABB – for the Caithness-Moray electricity interconnector project.

The Aberdeenshire-based subsea specialist will prepare the route for the 100-mile interconnector cable at the centre of Scottish Hydro Electric’s £1.2 billion Caithness-Moray transmission link project. Depending on the final scope and options selected, the contract will be ESS’s largest ever contract award.

When completed, the cable will be capable of carrying 1.2GW of renewable energy generated in the North of Scotland to the main UK electricity transmission network.

Ecosse Subsea will carry out boulder clearance operations and pre-lay trenching prior to the laying of the transmission cable, which will run from Spittal in Caithness to Blackhillock in Moray.

The company’s deepwater SCAR plough was originally designed for use in the oil and gas sector and continues to work on hydrocarbon projects but the company has successfully adapted the technology to suit the requirements of the renewables sector.

Keith McDermott, Commercial Director, said he was delighted that Ecosse Subsea –  a Scottish based company – would play such a prominent role in using Scottish developed technology on a project of national importance.

Mike Wilson, Managing Director, Ecosse Subsea, added: “Cable owners and manufacturers have recognised that our method reduces the risk of damage to the cable and our use of smaller charter vessels brings huge cost savings.

“We also reduce the possibility of schedule disruption because, working ahead of the laying phase, we can identify and help solve any potential engineering problems with the proposed seabed route before it reaches a critical point.”

Scottish Energy Minister, Fergus Ewing, commented: “I am delighted to hear that Ecosse Subsea Systems has secured this agreement, which will be of significant value to the Banchory-based firm.

“ESS is a significant local employer, with around 80 staff, and its involvement in the Caithness-Moray project will secure an additional 20 jobs over the next two years. It is an excellent example of a Scottish company using the skills, technology and experience from delivering North Sea oil and gas projects to secure new opportunities.

“As well as having significant local and national supply chain benefits, the Caithness-Moray project will enable 1.2 GW of new renewable generation to connect to the high-voltage network providing enough electricity to power the equivalent of over 500,000 homes and also making a substantial contribution toward our renewable electricity target.

“Reinforcement of the grid in this resource-rich part of the country will also help to pave the way for future island connections to Orkney and Shetland.”

Pixie Energy

Pixie logo Pixie Energy is an incubator and a facilitator of strategic research and project work, focusing on energy regulation, policy and markets at the local and national level. Find out more about Pixie Energy here.

Local Energy Matters: Scotland

Local Energy Matters: Scotland is a free-to-download brochure with a focus on energy tariffs in the two Scottish electricity distribution regions, as well news on local energy and low-carbon schemes.

Previous editions can be download here.

Scottish energy market overview

You can read an overview of the Scottish energy market here.

Scottish Government energy feed