UK energy regulator Ofgem has given the go-ahead for the construction of a 600 MW HVDC interconnector between the Scottish mainland and the Shetland Islands. The decision was widely expected following the regulator’s recent “minded-to” position on the subsea transmission link, and means that SSE Renewables will be able to move forwards with the development of its proposed 443 MW Viking wind farm in Shetland. The developer last month took a positive final investment decision on the 103-turbine project. 

Ofgem said that its decision is subject to it being satisfied by the end of the year that construction of Viking will go ahead. SSE Renewables stated that it welcomed the decision, adding: “SSE Renewables’ Viking wind farm is the anchor project commercially underpinning the transmission connection, which will play a critical role in Shetland’s security of supply needs as well as giving scope for future renewable development.”

The company said construction would scale up in the coming weeks and that it was engaging with Ofgem to provide satisfactory evidence the wind farm would go ahead.

Ofgem said it would publish a full decision by the end of the month but that it was publishing the decision now as it was in the interest of consumers to ensure “timely and efficient progress” of works needed to deliver the link and wind farm.

The Viking wind farm will be the UK’s largest onshore wind farm in terms of annual electricity output, harnessing Shetland’s “excellent wind conditions to produce enough energy to power almost half a million homes”, according to SSE.