Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) has announced a programme of investment in the transmission network in Scotland to connect offshore wind to the UK’s energy grid.
The investment, known as the ‘Pathway to 2030 programme’, in the north of Scotland will deliver billions in value to the UK economy whilst enabling connection of over one fifth of the UK Government’s 50GW 2030 offshore wind goal.
11GW of the total 50GW pipeline of offshore wind which the UK government wants to create by 2030 will be ScotWind projects that connect via the SSEN transmission network.
The investment could power more than ten million homes and support 20,000 jobs in the UK, of which 9,000 will be in Scotland. The project will include new onshore reinforcements and subsea links.
SSEN said that analysis published by BiGGAR Economics showed that the ‘Pathway to 2030 programme’ would deliver substantial economic benefits to Scotland and the UK, creating jobs that would support the transition from oil and gas to renewables. The analysis predicts that the programme will contribute over £6 billion to the UK economy, of which £2.5 billion will be in Scotland, and 20,000 jobs across the UK.
SSEN will create 900 jobs across Scotland on top of the 20,000 jobs figure between 2022-24.
SSEN believes that the investment “will help to unlock the vast potential of the north of Scotland to meet the UK and Scottish Government’s 2030 targets, boosting grid capacity to enable the first phase of ScotWind projects to connect to the GB grid, and helping to achieve home grown energy security.”
UK Minister for Energy Security and Net Zero, Graham Stuart, said: “SSEN Transmission’s Pathway to 2030 programme is a significant investment into the future of Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom.”
“This is a £6.2 billion economic boost for the UK which will deliver long-term and well-paid jobs whilst helping Britain achieve home grown energy security and an electricity network fit for the future.”
Rob McDonald, managing director of SSEN Transmission, added: “This is a really exciting time for SSEN Transmission. The development and delivery of our Pathway to 2030 programme is critical to enable the deployment of homegrown and affordable, low carbon power, with this £10bn investment in grid arguably the most important enabler to securing Scotland’s the UK’s future energy security and net zero ambitions.”
At the All Energy Glasgow conference recently, there was concern about the waiting times for grid connections in Scotland, and about the ability of the grid to deal with the 40GW of proposed offshore wind being developed in Scotland.
Concerns around grid capacity and connection waiting times have been swirling around the renewables industry in recent months, with some companies given connection dates over a decade in the future. National Grid ESO has recently published a 5-point plan aiming to speed up grid connections, and Ofgem’s new mandate is also projected to help speed up grid connections.
Infrastructural investment is another key component of the drive to improve the electricity grid, and SSEN’s announcement puts the pressure on other transmission and distribution network operators to increase investment in their networks.
SSEN say that:”Early investment in grid infrastructure will be crucial to maximise the economic benefits to Scotland from the ScotWind offshore leasing round. Delays in grid connection investment may result in a compression of timescales for the delivery of ScotWind projects, creating capacity issues for the Scottish supply chain and reducing the potential economic impact.”