Another UK subsea electricity superhighway presses ahead

Great Britain’s longest-ever subsea connection presses ahead

UK energy market regulator Ofgem has given provisional regulatory approval for the Eastern Green Link 2 (EGL2) subsea connection between Scotland and Yorkshire, with over 500 kilometers said to be the longest ever built in Great Britain.

Ofgem gave provisional approval of the expenditure required for the HVDC subsea superhighway, a joint venture between SSEN Transmission and National Grid Electricity Transmission, on March 27.

The 525 kV 2 GW link, capable of carrying enough electricity to power nearly two million homes, will run from Peterhead in northeast Scotland to Drax on the east coast of England. Around 436 kilometers of the cable will be under the North Sea with the remaining 70 kilometers buried underground onshore.

At a total expected nominal investment of around £4.3 billion, EGL2 is the single largest-ever investment in electricity transmission infrastructure in Great Britain and is as such one of the most significant, strategic investments in energy infrastructure the country has seen in recent years, SSEN Transmission said.

The decision builds on the recent announcement that contracts have been signed with BAM Nuttal for all civil works, Hitachi Energy for the HVDC convertor station and Prysmian for the HVDC subsea and land cable. With all major supply chain partners in place, the project remains on track for energization in 2029.

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“We welcome Ofgem’s provisional decision to approve all necessary expenditure for the Eastern Green Link 2 project, a critical milestone in the final stages of the regulatory approvals process,” said Sandy Mactaggart, Director of Offshore Delivery for SSEN Transmission.

“We now look forward to working constructively with Ofgem and other stakeholders to finalise the investment required, in a timely manner, to build this underwater superhighway of electricity transmission, unlocking the electricity generation capacity required to power two million homes.”

SSEN Transmission’s expected £2 billion investment in EGL2 is part of its Pathway to 2030 investments, which will see around £20 billion invested in the north of Scotland electricity transmission network over the next decade, while the National Grid’s investment in the project forms part of it’s Great Grid Upgrade, the largest overhaul of the grid in generations and a multi-billion investment in new electricity transmission projects across England and Wales.

EGL2 is the second project so far to proceed under Ofgem’s new fast track Accelerated Strategic Transmission Investment (ASTI) framework. Ofgem last week announced it had selected the 2 GW HVDC Eastern Green Link 1 (EGL1) subsea cable as the first project to proceed under the new fast-track process and to receive a provisional £2 billion funding package.

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EGL1 is being developed by National Grid Electricity Transmission (NGET) and SP Transmission, part of SP Energy Networks, between the Torness area in East Lothian, Scotland, and Hawthorn Pit in County Durham, England. 

“Eastern Link 2 is the second project to reach this stage under our new Accelerated Strategic Transmission (ASTI) process which has been designed to boost Britain’s energy security by unlocking investment and speeding up the delivery of major power projects,” said Rebecca Barnett, Ofgem Director of Major Projects.

“However just because we’ve streamlined the approval process doesn’t mean we’re handing developers blank cheques. The ASTI framework helps ensure consumers are protected from unnecessary costs and we make budget adjustments where we don’t see maximum efficiency and benefit for consumers.”