A £50,000 feasibility study is to begin into subsea links to take renewable generated electricity from the Scottish islands to centres of demand on mainland Britain -- or to Ireland and Norway. The study, to be co-funded by the Scottish Executive and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and the islands councils, will look at options for connecting into various points on the grid network along the coasts of Scotland, England and Wales, Ireland and Norway. The Norwegian option is particularly relevant to the Shetlands Isles. While wind power is regarded as a priority sector for developing the economies of the Western Isles, Shetlands and Orkneys, electricity generation is constrained by lack of adequate connection with the Scottish mainland and by the weak mainland grid. A planned major upgrade of the line from Beauly to Denny, to take increased power flows south from large numbers of planned wind farms in the Highlands, looks set to be delayed as it is almost certain that objections to it will require the Scottish Executive to call a public inquiry. But HIE says that the timescales for any of the options considered in the study are critical. "Further delay will not only impact on those projects, but will have a longer term effect on the area's ability to develop marine renewables and capture the substantial economic opportunities this sector offers." The study follows an earlier report for the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in 2002 into a sub sea cable down the west coast of Britain to take renewable power from the Western Isles and Highlands. It concluded that the cost would be prohibitive. But Elaine Hanton from HIE says the new study, to report in the autumn, will look at the economics with fresh eyes.
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Senior Renewable Energy Analyst (WindGEMINI Product Lead) DNV GL Bristol (City Centre), City of Bristol