Report heralds start of £5bn grid investment


SSEN Transmission managing director Rob McDonald
SSEN Transmission managing director Rob McDonald

SSEN Transmission said that publication of this year’s Networks Options Assessment (NOA) pointed out that the investment in grid infrastructure in the north of Scotland will be critical to delivering the UK and Scotland’s net zero commitments and renewable targets.

This year’s NOA confirms the need to progress with a number of strategic reinforcements in SSEN Transmission’s network region:

  • two subsea high-voltage direct current (HVDC) links from Peterhead to England;
  • a second HVDC link from Spittal in Caithness, connecting to Peterhead;
  • strategic onshore reinforcements to the north of Inverness and between Inverness and Peterhead.

The investments, subject to all necessary planning and regulatory approvals, support SSE’s recently announced Net Zero Acceleration Programme, which set out plans to invest £12.5bn in the five years to 2026.

SSEN Transmission said that the reinforcements are required under all credible future energy scenarios for net zero. They are necessary to underpin the delivery of the UK government’s target of 40GW of offshore wind by 2030 target and its commitment to decarbonise the power sector by 2035 it said, as well as the Scottish government’s 11GW of offshore wind and 75% emissions reduction targets by 2030.

Rob McDonald, managing director of SSEN Transmission, said: “This year’s NOA report fires the starting gun for over £5bn of investment in grid infrastructure in the north of Scotland.  This will be critical to enabling the growth of renewable electricity in the region needed to deliver net zero, including the first step in unlocking the vast increase in offshore wind expected following the recently announced outcome of the ScotWind leasing round.

“These investments will also provide huge economic opportunities for the north of Scotland and throughout GB, supporting hundreds of skilled jobs in the development and construction phases.  Due to the scale of investment required in grid infrastructure, we believe there is a clear opportunity for governments and industry to work together to encourage inward investment in UK supply chain manufacturing and skills development.

“In enabling the connection of indigenous, clean renewable electricity generation, these investments will also be crucial in reducing the UK’s dependence on volatile global wholesale gas markets.

“We now look forward to working constructively with government, Ofgem, the wider industry and our stakeholders to provide the timely, coordinated and efficient investment in grid infrastructure that is key to our collective net zero ambitions.”

SSEN Transmission will now undertake a programme of engagement with stakeholders and local communities to help shape the development of the upgrades. It will also explore with government, industry and wider stakeholders the supply chain opportunities and associated economic growth the investments present.

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