Ofgem has given the go-ahead to SSEN’s plan for a 220MW transmission link from Orkney Islands following a consultation, subject to conditions which ensure value for money for all consumers.
Approval is conditional on a total of at least 135MW of new wind farm projects on Orkney either being awarded a Contract for Difference (CfD) or being judged likely to be developed by December 2021.
Ofgem would expect to be satisfied that new wind farm projects are likely to be developed despite not being awarded a CfD if an independent audit states that the project is financially viable, has signed a relevant grid connection agreement and has been granted planning permission.
Last year Orkney Islands Council refused the planning applications for two wind farms by Hoolan Energy at Hesta and Costa Head. The Orkney Greens had campaigned with local residents against the construction of the wind farms. This decision was overturned by the Scottish Government on appeal. Costa & Hesta Wind Farms – Successful Appeals
Since then Orkney Islands Council has announced its own ambitious plans for wind farm developments. Orkney Unveils Ambitious Community Wind Farm Project
The electricity link, estimated to cost around £260m, would be completed from 2023 and enable new wind farms and potentially new tidal power projects on Orkney to send electricity to the rest of Great Britain.
Commenting on the decision, Rob McDonald, Managing Director for Transmission at SSEN , said:
“Whilst we are clearly disappointed with today’s decision, our commitment to work with Orkney developers and other stakeholders to unlock Orkney’s vast renewable potential has not changed.
“With both the UK and Scottish Government committed to net zero emissions, we firmly believe Orkney and Scotland’s other two major island groups will have a key role to play in the fight to prevent the worst effects of climate change.
“We now look forward to working with developers and other stakeholders on Orkney to collectively explore the best way forward to unlock Orkney’s renewable potential.”
Ofgem regulates network companies including SSEN, which is a subsidiary of SSE. All energy consumers pay for the cost of investment in new network capacity so the regulator ensures that it obtains the best deal possible for them.