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Orkney Interconnector: Raising the Case in Parliament

The issue of a new subsea cable connecting Orkney’s huge natural energy sources of renewable power with the mainland of Scotland was raised in the Scottish Parliament this week.

Emma Roddick SNP MSP for the Highlands and Islands asked for clarifications regarding supporting suitable renewable energy developments which will ensure the case for an interconnector for Orkney.

Ofgem’s (Office of Gas and Electricity Markets) approval for a new cable is reliant on at least 135 MW of new energy generation projects in Orkney. There are currently multiple windfarm projects awaiting a decision that could see Orkney reach this target.

Emma Roddick questioned the Minister for Public Finance, Planning and Community Wealth, Tom Arthur. She asked:

“In light of the focus on sustainability and tackling climate change in the draft document, will the minister advise whether due consideration is being given to supporting suitable renewable energy developments that will ensure the case for an interconnector for Orkney?”

The Minister replied:

“As the member will appreciate, I cannot comment on live planning applications. However, the spatial strategy recognises the exceptional opportunities for our islands and coasts in transitioning to net zero.

“An important part of that is supporting development that contributes to the blue economy and energy innovation and investment. The draft NPF4 proposes an updated national development, which would establish the need for strategic renewable energy generation and grid connections throughout Scotland.”

Link: National Planning Framework

Click here for the consultation on the Draft National Planning Framework 4 it closes on 31 March 2022.

An independent study commissioned by Orkney Islands Council (OIC) stated that a  new electricity transmission link between Orkney and the Scottish Mainland could be worth at least £371 million to the Orkney economy. This would rise to £807 million if the wave and tidal energy industry makes use of the cable too.

The needs case for a new interconnector to the Scottish mainland is tied into the development of three wind farms under ‘Orkney’s Community Wind Farm Project’ .

The report states:

The OIC projects are critical to meeting Ofgem’s conditionality threshold to ensure the Orkney transmission link is finally approved. It should be noted that Ofgem’s conditional approval is for SSEN-Transmission’s proposed link. If the conditionality threshold of 135 MW is not met, then Ofgem may require a new Needs Case submission that may result in approval for a lower capacity link– significantly reducing the longer-term potential of renewable development in Orkney.

Securing the proposed link will facilitate the creation of significant benefit to the Orkney and Scottish economies and help meet our Net Zero goals. The transmission link the OIC projects support will also enable additional, longer term renewable development and in particular unlock the potential for future development of marine energy technologies

A Transmission Link For Orkney

Commenting Emma Roddick said:

“We must not let our islands fall behind in their ambitions to help tackle climate change due to delayed planning decisions.

“In light of the focus on sustainability and Orkney’s ongoing issues with fuel poverty, it Is imperative to have these plans granted which will enable plans to progress for the Orkney interconnector.

“I look forward to seeing how the Scottish Government will support suitable projects in the isles to ensure we see an interconnector in the near future. Orkney cannot sit in limbo struggling to heat their homes while our planet is in a climate crisis.”

Related article: Just a Reminder…..

Orkney Eco Park, Hatston, Kirkwall

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