Approval of Shetland transmission link unlocks over £1bn of investment

SSE plc welcomes today’s decision by Ofgem to approve the 600MW HVDC transmission link connecting Shetland to the GB mainland.

The link, being taken forward by SSE’s transmission business, Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks Transmission (SSEN Transmission), will facilitate the connection of renewable electricity developments on Shetland, including SSE Renewables’ 443 MW Viking wind farm which reached a final investment decision in June 2020.  The link will also support Shetland’s future security of supply needs and will connect Shetland to the main GB electricity system for the first time and represents a material cost saving for consumers.

Approval is conditional on Ofgem being satisfied, by the end of 2020, that Viking wind farm is likely to go ahead. SSE Renewables is engaging with Ofgem to provide satisfactory evidence as set out in the needs case consultation.

These investments in renewables and electricity networks form part of SSE’s £7.5 billion low carbon investment programme over the next 5 years which it announced in June.

The link will also enable a ‘whole system’ approach to decarbonising Shetland’s economy, supporting the transition to low carbon heat and transport.  It will also allow Shetland’s oil and gas sector to decarbonise its operational electricity requirements, a critical step in the transition to net zero emissions. In parallel, SSE’s distribution business, SSEN Distribution, is progressing plans for an innovative and cost-effective backup solution to support security of supply and will update stakeholders later this year.

With all necessary regulatory and planning approvals now in place, construction of the subsea link, all associated onshore transmission infrastructure and Viking wind farm will scale up in the coming weeks, providing an immediate boost to the green recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and supporting the UK and Scotland’s commitments to net zero emissions by 2050 and 2045 respectively. SSE looks forward to working with all stakeholders in delivering these critical low carbon projects over the months and years ahead.

Commenting on the milestone, SSE’s Chief Executive, Alistair Phillips-Davies, said:

“Today’s decision marks a significant milestone in delivering a ‘whole system’ solution to meet Shetland’s future needs, as well supporting the transition to net zero emissions, and shows again that we are putting our money where our mouth is on driving the green recovery. 

“It has been a long journey, but with a combined investment in excess of £1bn, the construction of the subsea transmission link, all associated onshore infrastructure and the Viking Energy wind farm will deliver substantial socio-economic and environmental benefits to Shetland’s, Scotland’s and the UK’s economy, supporting hundreds of skilled jobs in the process.

“This decision by Ofgem appropriately balances stakeholder interests. That’s something we would hope to see Ofgem return to in its RIIO-T2 price control process, where we need a substantial increase in ambition from what’s in the draft determination if we are to maximise our chances of  delivering on net zero.”