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Energy / Work on Caithness switching station to get underway

Plans for the cable taken from a booklet given out by SSEN in 2016.The route of the proposed subsea cable linking Shetland to the Scottish mainland. Image: SSE

CONSTRUCTION work on an HVDC switching station in Caithness, which will play a “key role” in connecting Shetland to the National Grid, will get underway later this month.

SSEN Transmission and its main contractor BAM Nuttall will begin construction on 30 November.

Once complete the Caithness HVDC switching station will enable the connection of renewable energy from Shetland to the national grid via the planned 600MW interconnector.

The switching station at Noss Head will allow the flow of electricity to be managed between three underground HVDC circuits – one from a converter station at Spittal in Caithness, one from the converter station at Kergord and one to a converter station at Blackhillock in Moray.

SSE said this will “make it possible to take the energy from where it is generated to where it is needed”.

The direct current switching station (DCSS) at Caithness is said to be the first of its kind to be built in Europe.

Over the next couple of months the team will be focusing on the initial civil engineering which will involve the creation of a new access tracks and a haul road to the site, as well as setting up a temporary site compound and welfare facilities.

Lead project manager Fionán Doonan said: “The Caithness switching station is a key component of the Shetland HVDC project, enabling up to 600MW of clean renewable energy to connect to the grid.

“Once complete, it will play a key role in facilitating the transition to net zero emissions.

“We have been working hard over the last couple of months to prepare for construction, and we are delighted that work will soon be getting underway. We have also been working closely with the local supply chain ahead of the commencement of work on the project, opening up contract opportunities for local companies.

“As a responsible developer, we will continue to work closely with the local community throughout the construction phase to ensure we actively mitigate any impact of construction activities and minimise disruption where possible.”

The 250km subsea cable between Shetland and Caithness is expected to be ready by 2024.

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

The cable is required for the 103-turbine Viking Energy wind farm to export energy.