The British energy regulator Ofgem has awarded SSEN Transmission, a subsidiary of SSE plc (SSE.L), preliminary approval to build a 2GW Scotland-England HVDC Subsea Cable. The approval of the High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) subsea link, with a capacity of two-gigawatt, which is enough to power more than two million homes, was welcomed by SSEN Transmission. The entire anticipated investment in the project is roughly US$ 2.8bn.
According to SSEN, the ‘subsea superhighway of energy transmission’ will relieve current and future restrictions on the electricity transmission network, allowing for the expansion of additional renewable electricity generation and providing a pathway to net-zero emissions. The link, by allowing the connecting of indigenous, low-carbon electrical generation, will also play a crucial role in ensuring the UK’s future supply security, decreasing reliance and price exposure to unpredictable global wholesale gas markets, it added.
The initial 2GW link from Peterhead to Drax in Yorkshire will be built as a collaboration by SSEN Transmission and National Grid Electricity Transmission (NGET). Enabling work is planned to begin in the summer of 2024, with primary construction beginning in early 2025. The link is expected to be operational in 2029.
According to SSEN Transmission, the 2GW Scotland-England HVDC Subsea Cable will sustain hundreds of green employment during construction and operation, as well as many thousands more throughout the supply chain and wider economy.
Approval for separate 2GW HVDC subsea link from Torness to Hawthorn Pit
Ofgem has also conditionally authorized proposals for a separate 2GW HVDC subsea link from Torness in southeast Scotland to Hawthorn Pit in northeast England, which is being pursued by SP Energy Networks and NGET and is scheduled to be operational in 2027. Two more 2GW underwater HVDC lines, from Peterhead to South Humber and from southeast Scotland to South Humber, are also planned, with both scheduled to open in 2031.
“We welcome Ofgem’s timely decision to provisionally approve the first of two undersea cables intended to connect Peterhead in Scotland to demand centers in England,” said SSEN Transmission managing director Rob McDonald. “These connections are crucial to achieving our net-zero aspirations, meeting the UK and Scottish Government renewable targets, and lowering our reliance on unpredictable wholesale gas markets by promoting indigenous low-carbon power generation.
We can now engage with confidence with the supplier chain to obtain the specialist HVDC infrastructure and project delivery partners through an open and competitive procurement process, thanks to Ofgem’s much-needed certainty of delivery. We now look forward to working with Ofgem, the government, and other stakeholders to speed investments in key grid reinforcements needed to support our future energy needs,” concluded Mr. McDonald.
Two more undersea HVDC links in the pipeline
SSEN Transmission is also planning a new undersea HVDC link from Spittal in Caithness to Peterhead, as well as major onshore reinforcements from Beauly near Inverness to Peterhead and from Beauly to Caithness. According to SSEN, these additional reinforcements are critical to achieving the first phase of ScotWind and other renewable energy projects planned across the country.