Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP, Angus MacNeil has today spoken with SSEN’s Head of Corporate Affairs Transmission, Greg Clarke, to raise concerns about delays with the construction of the interconnector.  This follows the publication of the ‘Pathway to 2030’ which confirms the requirement for a new 1.8GW HVDC link from the Western Isles.  As a result, the 600MW cable has been overtaken by events.

SSEN has said that the link now required from a National Grid strategy paper will be a 1.8GW link.  As a result, Ofgem will not sign off a 600MW cable when a 3 times bigger cable but at only twice the cost, has become the political wish to meet climate targets sufficient to accommodate all known onshore and offshore wind in and around the Western Isles.   This will replace the previous proposals for a 600MW HVDC link. 

SSEN have told Mr MacNeil that they will now explore opportunities to accelerate investment for this new link in advance of its current 2030 delivery date.

Commenting Angus MacNeil MP said:

“I have spoken with SSEN who tell me that the link is going to be three times larger than was originally envisaged between Arnish and the mainland.  The cable will be around 1.8GW of carrying capacity as opposed to 600MW and the cost will be about 1.2bn, although the cable is 3 times bigger, it is only double the cost.  The downside is that it may well have a three-year delay.  However, SSEN assure me that they are going to try to push this date back to get nearer to 2027 when it was originally envisaged to build the interconnector between Lewis and the mainland.

“This is all part of the UK Government’s reinforcement which is required to meet targets for 2030 and net zero in the National Grid’s support of ‘Pathway to 2030’.

“SSEN tell me that they are confident that Ofgem will approve this 1.8GW cable despite the difficulties earlier with the 600MW cable because the political situation and the case around this has changed.  SSEN also tell me that if they went ahead with the 600MW cable for 2027, Ofgem simply wouldn’t sign it off now and it would be inevitably delayed.  They feel that the best approach is to go with the 1.8GW, which is what the UK Government now suddenly want, and to try and push that forward using some of the work they have done in preparing for a 600MW cable.

“Ultimately, SSEN say there could be a delay with the cable, but it will be a far better product.

“Furthermore, on the connection charges which are excessively high to the North of Scotland (about 13 times what you would pay from the European Union into the UK grid)  there is a working group in Ofgem looking at this and separately will continue to pursue this to help the case for energy production and not excessive charging hitting the North of Scotland.

“Finally, I would be happier if there wasn’t a further delay.”