ORKNEY is set for an undersea power cable which will carry renewable energy to the Scottish mainland.

The high-voltage subsea cable has been approved in principle by regulators, after nearly a five-year wait.

Power firm SSEN requested to lay the cable in 2018, but first had to meet conditions set by energy regulator, Ofgem.

Orkney approved six new wind farms which helped secure the plan.

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The wind farms are part of the Scottish Government’s plan for half of all energy consumption to come from renewables by 2030.

Some 56% of the electricity consumed in Scotland came from renewable sources in 2020, according to Full Fact.

Orkney Islands Council estimated the project could worth £371m to the local economy over 45 years.

The plan is for an underground cable to take power from the Finstown substation to the west of Stromness, on Orkney’s mainland.

This would then connect via a 57km subsea cable to Dounreay on the Caithness coast, allowing the generated power to be linked up to the National Grid, Britain's energy distribution system.

SSEN says the £400m project is expected to be complete by 2027/28, putting Scotland at the forefront of global developments in marine energy generation.

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Rob McDonald, managing director of SSEN Transmission, said: "Scotland's island groups are home to some of world's greatest resources of renewable energy and we have long supported the need to provide transmission connections to help unlock their abundant potential.

“We now look forward to working with all stakeholders to deliver this long awaited and much needed investment, which will deliver significant local and national socio-economic benefits, as well as supporting 2030 Government targets, our future energy security and a pathway to net-zero emissions.”

The scheme will involve interconnectors carrying electricity, linking up Scotland’s three biggest island groups: Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles.

This follows Ofgem’s approval of the Western Isles link in December 2022 and work to connect Shetland which is already well underway.