The networks division of SSE has submitted a “final needs case” to Ofgem for a submarine cable between Orkney and the Scottish mainland, which could connect up to 220MW of new renewables the UK grid.

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) said its proposal would take a phased approach that would deliver a single 220kV subsea cable in October 2022.

A second similar link could be installed once further generation commitments have been made to make a viable economic case. 

The needs case provides an analysis of the investment options available to meet several generation scenarios on the Orkney Islands. 

It concludes that only 70MW of new generation commitments would be needed to justify installing the first cable. 

The company has therefore requested conditional approval for the project from Ofgem subject to 70MW of commitments from developers.

SSEN said its analysis has been assessed by both National Grid and independent economic consultants. 

The company is also proposing an alternative approach to the current “first to contract, first to connect” arrangements to unlock barriers to connection.

It would like to see capacity allocated on a “ready to connect” basis, which it said would “allow customers who are ready to connect to progress quicker; and ensure the new capacity is fully utilised”.

A consultation on the alternative approach is open until 12 March. 

SSEN director of transmission Dave Gardner said: “After developing several proposals to provide a transmission reinforcement to Orkney over the years, submitting our needs case to Ofgem for regulatory approval is an important milestone. 

“We strongly believe our proposals for Orkney represent a strong and compelling economic case for reinforcement and the best possible opportunity to unlock Orkney’s renewable potential. We now look forward to working constructively with Ofgem as they review our submission.”

Image: Orkney (Heriot Watt University)