Three of the UK’s largest energy firms have confirmed they are developing ambitious plans to deliver an ‘underwater super-highway’ that will see the North Sea become what they describe as “the hidden powerhouse of Europe”
The Eastern Link will be made up of some of the world’s longest subsea HVDC cables, with a combined capacity of up to 4 GW. The multi-billion pound investment is expected to support hundreds of green jobs throughout construction and operation. The project will be led by SSE, ScottishPower and National Grid, setting off from two separate points in Scotland, Peterhead and Torness.
The cables will significantly increase the UK’s capacity for clean, green renewable power, enabling enough electricity for around 4M homes to travel up to 440 km from the east of Scotland – a hub for offshore renewables such as offshore wind – down to two points in the northeast of England, Selby and Hawthorn Point.
The east coast of Scotland is already home to almost 1 GW of operational offshore windfarms with a further 4.4 GW in the pipeline and up to 10 GW predicted following the outcome of the next Scottish offshore wind leasing round, ScotWind.
Survey work along the route has recently commenced with construction works currently expected to take place from 2024.
SSE chief executive Alistair Phillips-Davies said, “Development of the East Coast link is one of the most exciting energy developments in recent decades and is essential to delivering the UK’s 40-GW offshore wind target by 2030 and critical to our own commitment to build a network for net-zero emissions.
ScottishPower chief executive Keith Anderson said “COP26 will provide the perfect opportunity for the UK to showcase its innovation, progress and leadership in tackling climate change and we are proud to be major partners in the event.
“We firmly believe the UK can achieve its ambitious net-zero targets but it must be done through investment and innovation in essential projects like the Eastern Link, providing benefits for customers and society in the long-term.
“COP’s success is, in part, thanks to the collaboration of sectors, industries and countries and we are looking forward to exploring this mammoth opportunity with SSE and National Grid.”
National Grid UK executive director Nicola Shaw said, “This project will help transport enough renewable electricity for around 4.5M homes across the UK and will become part of the backbone of the UK’s energy system. It’s a great example of companies working together on impressive engineering feats that will help the country hit its net-zero carbon target by 2050.”