Ofgem has approved a proposal by Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) to build a 600 MW subsea electricity transmission link from the Shetland Isles to mainland Scotland. The link would allow new wind farms on Shetland to export renewable electricity to the rest of Great Britain and help ensure supply of electricity on the islands.

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

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’s function in such cases is to ensure that it obtains the best deal possible for them.

Jonathan Brearley, chief executive of Ofgem, commented: “Ofgem’s immediate focus is to support the energy industry so it can respond effectively to the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure consumers, especially the vulnerable, are protected. Today’s announcement will help stimulate economic growth as the economy recovers from COVID 19, as well as unlocking Shetland’s potential to supply low cost renewable electricity for consumers across Great Britain.” 

In October last year, Ofgem was unable to approve SSEN’s original proposal for the link because the Viking Energy wind farm project had failed to win a subsidy in the UK government’s Contract for Difference Auction. In January this year, SSEN submitted its revised proposal, taking account of updated progress of planned windfarms, as well as potentially increased electricity demand on the Shetland Isles.