Scottish & Southern Energy Networks (SSEN) has unveiled plans to lay cables capable of carrying 600MW of power from the Western Isles to the Scottish mainland.

The grid connection is needed to allow more wind farms to be erected in the Outer Hebrides, which have “some of Scotland’s greatest wind resource”.

Under plans submitted to energy regulator Ofgem, SSEN would lay a cable from Arnish on the Isle of Lewis to Dundonnell on the mainland, with underground cables then connecting the link to a substation at Beauly, near Inverness.

The company’s “Final Needs Case” has been assessed by system operator National Grid and by independent economic consultants.

‘Best opportunity to unlock potential’

“Following confirmation from the UK Government to allow remote island onshore wind to compete in the next Contracts for Difference (CfD) auction in May 2019, there is now an opportunity to progress with the transmission reinforcement, subject to the success of Western Isles renewable developers in the CfD auction and regulatory approval,” the company said.

Dave Gardner, SSEN’s Director of Transmission, added: “We believe our proposal represents a robust, economic case for reinforcement and provides the best possible opportunity to unlock the renewable potential of the Western Isles.

“There are still many hurdles to overcome, not least the requirement for sufficient volumes of renewable generation capacity securing a CfD contract to underpin the investment case.”

> See SSEN's statement