The clock is speedily ticking towards the make-or-break deadline for a vital sub-sea
cable to export renewable energy from Western Isles wind and wave farms warns Comhairle
nan Eilean Siar.
The economic consequences including the loss of job creation of the delays were rammed
home to representatives of the Scottish Government and the National Grid at a meeting
organised by the Outer Hebrides Renewable Energy Group.
Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) which is the monopoly operator of the national
grid in North Scotland has yet to lodge a revised needs case, which looks at the
economics and business demand for the link.
UK energy regulator Ofgem requires the business case document before awarding final
SSE says it is concerned that developers will not underwrite the cable’s £700 million
cost until the future subsidy payments were known.
It also highlighted wind farm firms are deterred by excessive transmission charges
for renewable projects in the islands.
Angus Campbell, leader of Western Isles Council said there was consensus around the
table yet “it was disappointing that SSE stood up and said there are not prepared
to put the needs case in.”
The delay means an arrangement between SSE and Swiss-owned submarine cable contractor
ABB risks falling, necessitating re-run of the time-consuming tender process.
It could take three years to get back to the present stage as time limits on provisional
contracts to build the cable ends in July, says Mr Campbell.
Rerunning the process to get new tenders means a number of planned large wind farms
and coastal wave schemes remain in limbo until nearly 2017.
Mr Campbell said: “The (SSE) man did say the needs case was waiting on his desk waiting
to go to Ofgem.
“Ofgem would normally require two months to consider that needs case.”
The hold-up is because SSE say they do not have confidence that developers will invest
at the next stage.
Mr Campbell added: “This kind of action has never before been taken by a grid provider.”