A PROJECT to help export renewable energy from the Western Isles to the mainland grid marks a major step forward, according to Angus MacNeil.

Ofgem has approved the need for four new high-voltage subsea cables to deliver electricity for four new high-voltage subsea cables to deliver electricity from wind farms to the National Grid.

One of the cables has been talked about for 17 years and would link the Western Isles to the Scottish Mainland.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil has continually lobbied for the interconnector.

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He said: “This has been the work of many years and is extremely welcome news for Na h-Eileanan an Iar.

“This opens up the islands to fulfil its renewable energy potential bringing massive benefits to the islands’ economy.”

However, MacNeil was critical of how long it took to get to this point.  

“For so long we wanted Ofgem to green light a 600MW connection and they were insisting on 450MW. Now Ofgem have green lighted a 1.8GW connector”, he said.

“As it is, construction is expected to be ongoing in 2025/26 with the project finished in 2030.”

Two undersea cables are also set to link Peterhead in Aberdeenshire with England while a fourth cable will run from Spittal in Caithness to Peterhead.

Energy regulator Ofgem has approved the schemes as part of its Accelerated Strategic Transmission Investment Framework.

In summary, the company has proposed the following:

  • Two 2GW subsea high-voltage direct current (HVDC) links from Peterhead to England. Both of these would be taken forward as joint ventures with National Grid Electricity Transmission.
  • A 2GW subsea HVDC link from Spittal connecting to Peterhead.
  • A 1.8GW subsea HDVC cable from Arnish in Lewis in the Western Isle to the Scottish mainland to deliver electricity to a subtation at Beauly in the Highlands.
  • It also wants to make improvements to powerlines between Beauly, Blackhillock, New Deer and Peterhead, between Beauly, Loch Buidhe and Spittal and between Kintore, Tealing and Westfield.
  • Work on the existing Beauly to Denny line to enable 400kV operation on both its circuits.

The Western Isle link is expected to lead to expansion of onshore and offshore wind projects.

Rob McDonald, managing director of SSEN Transmission, said: "Today's publication of the ASTI Framework is a critical milestone to support our collective net zero and energy security ambitions and we welcome Ofgem's approval of the need for the investments required to deliver 2030 offshore wind targets."