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Energy / Milestone reached as construction begins on grid supply point

The infrastructure will allow Shetland’s electricity network to be connected to the national grid

A visualisation of the Gremista Grid Supply Point building, which is seen in dark colours near the middle of the picture at the bottom of the hill.

WORK on a key piece of infrastructure which will see Shetland’s local electricity network connected to the main national grid is now under construction in Lerwick.

The grid supply point at Gremista will see Shetland’s distribution and transmission networks connected to a new substation.

Local company Tulloch Developments has been taken on as the principal contractor.

Construction teams started on site earlier this week, and this part of the project is expected to run through to early summer 2023.

After this point the site will be handed over to SSEN Transmission to complete the civils and electrical works required to connect the grid supply point.

The overall aim of the project is to boost reliability of electricity supplies for homes and businesses in Shetland, and support the drive to net zero as the isles move away from a reliance on fuel-powered energy.

Shetland is due to be connected to the national grid in 2024 through a subsea transmission link, which will allow the 103-turbine Viking Energy wind farm to export power.

The grid supply point construction will be carried out in two phases, with phase one details below.

Working hours:

  • Monday to Friday – 7am to 7pm
  • Saturday – 9am to 6pm
  • Sunday – 10am to 5pm

No rock-breaking or crushing will occur before 9.30am on Sundays.

Blasting operations will be restricted to 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday, and Saturday 8am to 3pm. There will be no blasting on Sunday.

Haulage movements to and from Staneyhill Quarry down the A970 to Gremista grid supply point will be restricted at weekends to between 8am and 6pm Saturday, and 8am to 5pm Sunday.

As phase two will begin shortly before the handover to SSEN Transmission, further details will be announced nearer the time.

SSEN Distribution’s project director Mark Kelly said: “Commencing work on the Grid Supply Point is a major milestone – not just for ourselves on the project, but also for the wider Shetland community – as this site is a key part of the islands being connected to the mainland GB network.

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“SSEN Distribution has a fantastic longstanding relationship with the Shetland communities.

“This project has seen years of planning and consultations with the wider public, local stakeholders and landowners, and I’d like to thank Shetland Islands Council and Lerwick Port Authority for their support in the lead up to construction starting earlier this week.

“And we’re delighted to be working with Tulloch Developments on such a significant project.

“As a Shetland-based company, we believe their local knowledge, combined with over 40 years of experience, will help us to deliver the Grid Supply Point safely, on schedule and with the minimum impact on people’s day-to-day lives.”

Joe Smith, director at Tulloch Developments, said: “Working with SSEN Distribution is great news for everyone here at Tulloch Developments. We’re a local company with over 40 years of experience working across Shetland, and so we’re proud to be part of this major project, which will lead to us all being connected to the mainland GB electricity network.”

Electricity is currently distributed in Shetland through a 33kV network, with power derived from Lerwick Power Station, the power station at Sullom Voe Terminal and renewables.

But once Shetland is connected to the mainland network via the subsea cable the isles’ distribution and transmission networks will need to be connected to the grid supply point.

There are also plans to install new overhead and underground power lines with larger capacity in Shetland’s central mainland to cater for the new set-up.

The overhead lines, however, have proved controversial with some in the community – but the final say rests with the Scottish Government’s energy consents unit. 

After the subsea cable goes live Lerwick Power Station will go into standby mode in case of any outages on the link.

A tendering process is currently underway to find solutions to keep Shetland’s lights on in the event of the power station being used.

This is because it would take a short period of time to power up.

Two proposals are publicly known for this standby solution, both of which would be located near the grid supply point.

The latest is a battery storage system proposed by developer Zenobe.

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