All development consents in place for UK’s giant renewable electricity superhighway
The latest development in a series of moves made by the UK to reach its net-zero aspirations entails the green light for all onshore and offshore elements of – what is deemed to be – its largest green electricity transmission reinforcement project. The consent covers new converter stations and onshore and offshore cables.
As planning consents for all the onshore and offshore elements of the project have been granted by all three local planning authorities and by both the Marine Management Organisation in England and Marine Scotland in Scotland, this represents a new milestone in the development of a new subsea electricity superhighway between Scotland and England, known as the Eastern Green Link 2 (EGL2) project, which will be delivered as a joint venture between Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) Transmission and National Grid Electricity Transmission (NGET).
The EGL2 project is a 525 kV, 2 GW high voltage direct current (HVDC) subsea transmission cable from Peterhead in Scotland to Drax in England, which will be the longest HVDC cable in the UK. It is expected to provide enough capacity to power more than two million homes if granted regulatory approval by Ofgem. This project is perceived to be essential to meet Britain’s net-zero commitments and deliver a cleaner, greener, and more secure energy future.
Furthermore, four planning elements have been considered by local authorities and marine management organisations in England and Scotland. As a result, planning permission in principle was granted by Aberdeenshire Council on 20 May 2022 for the HVDC converter station and on 3 February 2023 for a pylon compound joining the high-voltage underground cable to the overhead line.
While marine licences were granted by both the Marine Management Organisation and Marine Scotland on 28 July and 5 May 2023, respectively, for EGL2’s 436 km subsea cable, the full planning permission was granted on 3 May 2023 by East Riding of Yorkshire Council for the majority of project’s onshore underground cable. The planning application was submitted by National Grid Electricity Transmission.
In addition, the outline planning permission for the HVDC converter station, located adjacent to Drax power station, and full planning permission for the section of onshore cable in North Yorkshire was granted by the North Yorkshire Council on 11 August 2023.
Sarah Sale, EGL2 Deputy Project Director, commented: “We are delighted that our plans for the onshore and offshore elements of our project have been approved by all local planning authorities and marine licencing organisations. What was particularly pleasing to hear, was the support for the project and its purpose from a number of those planning authorities.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has worked alongside us to reach this key milestone, particularly those who have come forward and shared their views. We will continue to work with the local community and keep them updated as the project develops, and moves into construction, and would like to thank them in advance for hosting such an important project.”
Upon completion, EGL2 will run from a new converter station and landfall point at Sandford Bay, Peterhead, under the North Sea, to a landfall point at Fraisthorpe, on the East Yorkshire coast. Once onshore in England, it will run underground to a new converter station next to Drax Power Station in North Yorkshire. The construction is expected to begin in 2024, with a targeted operational date of 2029.
“This renewable electricity superhighway is vital in supporting the UK’s transition to net-zero and decarbonisation and we’re thrilled to be making such a significant contribution with the largest electricity transmission reinforcement project in the UK,” added Sale.
The EGL links form part of planned electricity grid reinforcements to boost the capability of the existing UK transmission network and facilitate increased flows of planned renewable generation in the North to demand centres to the South, supporting the ambition of enabling 50 GW of offshore wind generation by 2030 and achieving a net-zero economy by 2050.
Two months later, Hitachi Energy was picked as the preferred technology provider for two HVDC converter stations to interconnect the Scottish and English power grids.