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OFGEM Backs £600m Subsea Cable–To Connect One Wind Farm In Shetlands!

May 6, 2020

By Paul Homewood

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Energy regulator Ofgem has approved plans for a subsea power cable which would take energy from Shetland to the Scottish mainland.

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) wants to build a 600MW electricity transmission link.

Ofgen said this would allow new wind farms on Shetland to export renewable electricity to the rest of Britain.

The regulator said the scheme would also help ensure the supply of electricity on the islands.

However, the approval of SSEN’s revised proposals is subject to evidence that a Viking Energy wind farm project will go ahead.

It is estimated that the subsea cable project would cost more than £600m.

It would connect Kergord in Shetland to Noss Head on the Scottish mainland, near Wick in Caithness.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-52397784

There is one thing the BBC forgot to mention, the fact that energy consumers throughout the UK will end up paying this cost, as OFGEM explain:

 Ofgem regulates network companies including SSEN, which is a subsidiary of SSE. All energy consumers pay for the cost of investment in new network capacity through their energy bills and the regulator ensures that it obtains the best deal possible for them.

 

The only reason for the cable is to connect up the proposed wind farm. Although it may be used to import power from the mainland, OFGEM again make this clear:

Ofgem’s approval is subject to receiving sufficient evidence by the end of 2020 that the 457MW Viking Energy Wind Farm project planned for Shetland is likely to go ahead.

Currently most of Shetland’s electricity comes from Lerwick Power Station, a 66 MW diesel plant, which is nearing the end of its life. OFGEM consider that direct replacement of this would be a much cheaper option.

It is interesting that Shetland would still need to import power when Lerwick is shut, rather than relying on the Viking Wind Farm!

Incidentally, Viking were hoping to win a CfD contract last autumn, but could not compete on price, suggesting that wind power is not as cheap as we are told.

Construction of the proposed Viking project along with the £600m cable cannot possibly be justified economically. It is no more than green virtue signalling.

22 Comments
  1. grammarschoolman permalink
    May 6, 2020 10:32 am

    If it did only cost £600, I don’t expect there’d be a problem!

    • Robert Christopher permalink
      May 6, 2020 11:12 am

      It’s a 600 MW electricity transmission link: is that a coincidence?

    • May 6, 2020 2:09 pm

      If it only cost 600 it would still be too expensive, They never include the cost of the backup gas power plant.

  2. Ian Magness permalink
    May 6, 2020 10:41 am

    I wish it did only cost £600…

  3. Geoff B permalink
    May 6, 2020 10:42 am

    OFGEM’s remit is supposed to be keeping the consumers costs down, by regulating the suppliers…. stopping them manipulating the market by oligopolistic strategies. Instead it is driving consumer costs up by going down the low carbon route, So smart meters, ROC and CFD are now disguised on customers bills as electricity costs. I have advocated that all these green costs should be itemised on the bill, so the consumer can see the true cost. Here’s the new head of OFGEM bio on their website.. God Help Us

    Jonathan Brearley became Ofgem’s Chief Executive Officer on 3 February 2020. This follows his previous appointment as our Executive Director for Systems and Networks in April 2018.

    He has wide-ranging energy sector experience, having led Electricity Market Reform as the Director for Energy Markets and Networks at DECC. Prior to this, he was Director of the Office of Climate Change, a cross-government strategy unit focussed on climate change and energy issues, where he led the development of the Climate Change Act. Earlier in his career, Jonathan was a senior adviser in the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit.

    • Ian Magness permalink
      May 6, 2020 10:47 am

      OMG Geoff, it just gets worse. Never was the phrase “drain the swamp” more appropriate. Right now, the climatariat gravy train seems unstoppable.

  4. ianprsy permalink
    May 6, 2020 10:52 am

    Perhaps one if the reasons wind power isn’t as cheap as thought is that, if a comment I’ve seen is correct, energy companies have to pay a sum into SNP’s independence slush fund as a condition of getting approval.

  5. Mike Jackson permalink
    May 6, 2020 10:54 am

    Time to send in the men in white coats!

  6. Philip Taylor permalink
    May 6, 2020 10:59 am

    I’m a Shetland resident and can report that there´s a lot of opposition to the proposed wind farm on the islands.

  7. Joe Public permalink
    May 6, 2020 10:59 am

    Love the Freudian typo:

    “Incidentally, Viking were hoping to wind a CfD contract last autumn, but could not compete on price …”

    😉

    • May 6, 2020 11:01 am

      Not having a very good morning, am I?

      • Ian Magness permalink
        May 6, 2020 11:13 am

        Neither is Prof Ferguson…
        Mind you, he deserves all the opprobrium he gets. Seems the manufacturers of the green air travel pass have started creating Covid-19 distancing passes. One law for one…

  8. Nicholas Lewis permalink
    May 6, 2020 11:14 am

    Better not let the lot the built the Western HVDC link get involved.

    Also is there enough transmission capacity on the mainland send the power south or will that need further reinforcement?

  9. OldFogey permalink
    May 6, 2020 11:41 am

    600MW – isn’t that rather large? As big as a proper four-unit coal-fired power station.

    • Adam Gallon permalink
      May 6, 2020 2:12 pm

      No, since the average coal power station, is 4 x 500MW units.
      The Viking Energy wind farm project, is for 103, 3.6MW turbines.

  10. James Broadhurst permalink
    May 6, 2020 11:48 am

    From Kergord (SSE Include the 4 mile land cable from Upper Kergord to the sea) to Noss Head is 120 nautical miles as the crow flies which is about 55% the length of the Western HVDC cable which cost £1bn. This is also an SSE project but one they did not get right.

    Having sailed through these waters I wouldn’t be surprised if the sea did for it. It is violent on a good day. A BP mobile rig about a mile away disappeared into the wave troughs.

    The wind farm on Tiree (a single turbine!) also has an SSE link to the mainland which regularly breaks down. The island trust which owns the turbine had considerable difficulty in getting SSE to repair it; months would pass. The type of vessel to repair the Shetland cable would be an order of magnitude larger than Tiree’s and would be scarcer than hen’s teeth.

    • Graeme No.3 permalink
      May 6, 2020 12:50 pm

      James:

      No problem in Shetland because they can fallback on the diesel plant at Sullom Voe (once the North Sea oil runs out).
      I note that the existing wind farm (3 turbines) was considered too disruptive by the locals to their grid so its output is being directed into heating water. Large tanks of hot water are good for circulating ‘clean, green’ warmth through district heating schemes, and Shetland likes heating 12 months of a year. I haven’t heard how far they’ve managed to ‘distribute’ this heat as population in Shetland outside Lerwick can be sparsely settled.

  11. Geoff B permalink
    May 6, 2020 2:08 pm

    My first post on this topic was on OFGEM failures, now that I have looked more closely at the project, it is absolutely crazy. Building a wind farm 120 miles north of the scottish mainland and some 500 miles north of any real large power users. The western link interconnector which cost £1.3billion has proved unreliable and I believe it will not be fixed till end of May. With the problems of the western link who in their right mind would build another subsea cable. (answer greenwash) Building a few of the CCGT plants already with planning permission on demolished coal plant sites in Lincolnshire would make a great deal more sense, be more reliable, 24hr dispatchable and much lower cost.

    • May 6, 2020 2:16 pm

      CCGT in Lincs would be much better, but not green enough for Boris’ new wifey. So we will likely continue down the path of pricing ourselves out of world markets because of our energy being too expensive. Brexit will take the blame. Where can we find a Conservative govt. for the next election, one that will stop pretending wind can come close to competing with even double present oil prices.

  12. CheshireRed permalink
    May 6, 2020 3:09 pm

    Will the £600 million be allocated as a wind farm cost or will it be hidden in national grid ‘upgrades and maintenance’ as other interconnectors allegedly have been?

    I think I can guess the answer.

  13. jack broughton permalink
    May 7, 2020 9:38 pm

    If we were not ruled by eco-loons the ideal solution to the Rolls Royce capacity problem and the grid stability issues would be to build a mix of OCGTs and CCGTs based on the Olympus engine to give the required back-up to our grid. Sadly, even this aero-derivative engine technology is now controlled by Siemens, as the UK has “off-shored all power industry; but we could follow Trumps latest encyclical that national security in power equipment supplies can be used to restrict imports. The UK was a world leader in aero-derivative engines a mere generation ago.

    Possibly, they could justify this non-green scheme by saying that it can all be converted to hydrogen when the pigs have learned to fly. It would be useful infra-structure project and would also protect high tech manufacture (and even Derby from de-industrialisation).

    If the eco-loons succeed, as is looking increasingly likely, the Brave New World will arrive too early.

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