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Viking interconnector by April 2016

A SIX hundred megawatt subsea power cable to export electricity from the proposed Viking Energy wind farm in Shetland should be in place in less than five years.

National Grid say that the cost for the interconnector cable has come down from around £500 million to just over £300 million, after plans to connect the north of Scotland have been completely redrawn.

It has also emerged that Viking Energy will only have to underwrite 10 per cent of the cost of the cable rather. This could be further reduced to five per cent if proposals discussed by National Grid and regulator Ofgem are accepted.

The change was welcomed by Viking Energy project manager Aaron Priest.

Speaking during the Dynamic Shetland renewable energy conference, in Lerwick, National Grid voiced confidence that the cable would be built.

The organisation’s electricity portfolio manager for commercial transmission, Martin Moran, said: “The current contracted position is to build the interconnector between Shetland and the offshore hub by April 2016.

“The major trigger for the ordering of the cable is the Viking Energy project getting a Section 36 approval from Scottish ministers.

“I have 100 per cent confidence that from a National Grid perspective, project approval will be given. What National Grid is waiting for is the nod from the developer saying we want you to go procure that HVDC (high voltage direct current) link.

“What we have seen is that no consented project has ever been terminated. They might change the name, they might sell the project or pass it on to somebody else, but it happens.”

Giving a presentation to around 120 delegates at the conference, held at the Clickimin Leisure Complex on Wednesday, Mr Moran said that £22 billion would be invested nationally by 2021 to make the transmission network capable of accepting an ever increasing amount of renewable energy.

By 2030, he said, 40 gigawatts of renewable energy, or 36 per cent of its overall capacity, would be fed into the grid nationally.

He said the cost of the Shetland cable had come down because it will not go all the way to the Scottish mainland as initially planned.

Instead it will connect with a hub located in the Beatrice field, in the Moray Firth, handling other cables from Orkney and the north east of Scotland.

Electricity from up to 15 other renewable energy projects would be bundled and sent via a much larger cable to the Blackhillock sub-station, near Keith, from where it could be fed into the national grid or be transmitted via planned subsea cables to Peterhead and on to the densely populated areas of the UK.

“This is a much cheaper solution, and also allows for some flexibility and a more efficient use of the transmission network,” Mr Moran said.

He added that National Grid agree that the high transmission charges for remote places like Shetland should be reviewed.