East coast electricity

An undersea cable that will enable Scottish renewable energy to be distributed around the UK is viable, according to a new study by The Crown Estate.


The findings, revealed today in the report ‘East Coast Transmission Network: Technical Feasibility Study’ as the Scottish Parliament holds a debate on energy, confirm the technological and economical feasibility of an offshore east coast transmission line to take electricity from as far north as Shetland to the south east of the UK, with the potential to connect to the rest of Europe.


In response to the growing demand for sustainable sources of clean fuel and to help overcome difficulties in providing land-based transmission lines, The Crown Estate last year began looking into the practicality of a high-capacity offshore electricity line to run down the east coast from Shetland down to Norfolk then coming onshore to continue to London. In February 2007, consultants Econnect were commissioned to examine the technological feasibility and the capital costs of the project.


The report concludes that such a project could indeed be a success and would allow new renewables projects to connect to the national grid. However, there would still need to be reinforcements carried out to the onshore transmission network.


The Scottish government last week identified grid reinforcements to support renewable energy development as a potential national development priority in its National Planning Framework which is currently out for consultation.


The report states that any such interconnector could transmit power from on and offshore generation, and should use Voltage Source Converter (VSC) High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) technology because of its easier installation, flexibility and maintenance benefits.


The core of the system would cost up to £1.7bn, with the total network costing around £4.8bn by 2020.


The proposed network was designed around projections for substantial renewable generation off the coast of north Scotland, in the region of 5-10GW by 2020.