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Energy / Full construction work to get underway on Kergord electricity stations early next year

The proposed converter station at Upper Kergord. Image: Mott MacDonald/Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks/Shetland Islands Council

FULL construction work on an electricity converter station and substation at Upper Kergord is expected to start early next year, according to developer SSEN.

Enabling works are due to begin at Kergord towards the end of August 2020.

It comes after energy regulator Ofgem gave the final approval for the 600MW interconnector which will link Shetland to the national grid.

It will allow planned wind farms, such as Viking Energy, to export energy south.

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) Transmission has also confirmed that all of the main contractors are now in place for the infrastructure associated with the 270km interconnector.

The proposed cable landing point at Weisdale Voe. Photo: SSEN

In addition to the previously announced NKT, which will manufacture and install the cable, Siemens BAM will work on the AC substation at Kergord.

BAM Nuttall will deliver all civil engineering works for the cable, including the construction of all buildings, while Hitachi ABB Power Grids will be responsible for delivering and commissioning the HVDC system.

Hitachi ABB Power Grids said the Shetland link will be “Europe’s first multi-terminal high-voltage direct-current (HVDC) interconnection”.

It said the HVDC system will “provide flexibility to transfer power in multiple directions, based on supply and demand, with minimal power losses”.

The subsea cable installation is scheduled to take place in 2022 and 2023 following its manufacture.

All construction works are scheduled to be completed in December 2023, with energisation and full commissioning due to be finished in July 2024.

At its peak, in the summer of 2022, the project is expected to employ almost 250 people.

All of the contractors worked on the HVDC Caithness-Moray link, which has been in operation since 2019.

The AC substation and HVDC converter station are required for the connection of renewable electricity generators and for exporting power south.

Power will be converted from alternating current to direct current at the converter station before it can be exported via the transmission link, which will run between Noss Head in Caithness and Weisdale Voe.

An access track for the station has already started being built to Upper Kergord, with some concern locally over the amount of peat being dug up, and the way it is being disposed of.

Once south the power will then be transported via the existing Caithness-Moray HVDC link before being converted back to alternating current for onward transmission to meet the electricity demand for homes and businesses across the north of Scotland and beyond.

SSEN Transmission’s director of offshore delivery Sandy Mactaggart said: “The Shetland HVDC link will deliver substantial socio-economic and environmental benefits to Shetland’s, Scotland’s and the UK’s economy, supporting hundreds of skilled jobs in the process as part of the green recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

“With all major milestones complete, we now look forward to working closely with the Shetland and Caithness communities and other stakeholders throughout the construction and future operation of these critical national infrastructure assets.”

The new set-up will meet Shetland’s electricity demands once Lerwick Power Station comes to the end of its lifespan in 2025.

The construction programme for the 103-turbine Viking Energy wind farm, which is also backed by SSE and has been described an anchor project for the subsea cable, is expected to get underway this month.

Scottish firm RJ McLeod was recently appointed to build the controversial wind farm.

SSE Renewables confirmed in June it would invest £580 million in the 443MW development.