Illustration; Source: Prysmian

Prysmian, Hitachi Energy, and BAM pen deals for UK’s ‘largest’ subsea green electricity superhighway

Three subsea market players – Italy’s cable giant Prysmian, Switzerland’s Hitachi Energy, and the Netherlands-based BAM – have inked contracts for cable and converter stations destined for a high voltage direct current (HVDC) cable connection in the UK, which underpins the 50 GW offshore wind power target by 2030, lending a helping hand to Britain in meeting its net zero by 2050 aspiration.

Illustration; Source: Prysmian

Eastern Green Link 2 Limited, a joint venture between SSEN Transmission and National Grid Electricity Transmission (NGET), has signed contracts with Prysmian to supply around 1,000 km of cable – worth in the region of €1.9 billion – for the Eastern Green Link 2 (EGL2) project, after the Italian player was selected as the exclusive preferred bidder in May 2023, and with Hitachi Energy and BAM for the supply of converter stations at either end of the subsea cable, connecting Scotland and England.

SSEN Transmission sees these deals as another milestone in the development of a new subsea electricity superhighway, as EGL2 will enable the creation of a 525 kV, 2 GW HVDC subsea transmission cable from Peterhead in Scotland to Drax in England. This is perceived to be the longest HVDC cable in the UK and the UK’s single largest electricity transmission project ever, providing enough electricity to power 2 million UK homes.

Contract signing ceremony; Source: SSEN Transmission

Ricky Saez, SSEN Transmission’s EGL2 Project Director, commented: “Getting the contract signed with Hitachi Energy and BAM for delivery of the convertor stations is another big step in delivering EGL2. The convertor stations at either end of the cable will play a crucial role in making the power transported by this HVDC link onto the onshore transmission network quicker.

“By signing up today Hitachi Energy and BAM – who have a great track record in delivering infrastructure like this – will allow that technology to improve the network and flow of greener energy. Likewise signing the cable contract with Prysmian is a hugely important step too, particularly given global supply chain constraints in HVDC cabling – the cable being the crucial link between both converters. This is a fantastic moment for the EGL2 project.”

Furthermore, Hitachi Energy is pairing up with BAM to provide the engineering works and technology for the HVDC converter stations, which form the terminals for the HVDC cable and convert direct current to the alternating current used in the onshore transmission network. Following final approval from Ofgem, work on EGL2 is expected to start later this year, with a targeted operational date of 2029.

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Huw Jones, BAM Nuttall Executive Director, remarked: “We are pleased that BAM has been chosen by SSEN Transmission and National Grid Electricity Transmission (NGET), to deliver another important milestone of this nationally significant infrastructure project. The work we are undertaking is perfectly aligned with BAM’s own commitment to deliver a sustainable tomorrow and we are delighted to play a key role in supporting UK’s transition to a low carbon economy that will safeguard our energy supply for the future.”

Moreover, Prysmian has confirmed its capability to deliver the project with its manufacturing facilities for the production of the HVDC cable and its cable laying vessels for the installation in the timescale required for EGL2 to meet its targeted energization date in 2029, supporting the timely delivery of this project and mitigating risks associated with global constraints in the HVDC supply chain.

EGL2; Courtesy of BAM

Hakan Ozmen, EVP Transmission BU at Prysmian, stated: “We are very proud to have the opportunity to play our role in the development of such a strategic infrastructure for UK, by making available our state-of-the-art cable technology. Once completed, the electrical ‘superhighway’ cable link will unlock the rich renewable energy capacity of Scotland and significantly increase the UK’s capacity to deliver clean energy for around two million homes in the UK.”

HVDC technology is said to provide the most efficient and reliable means of transmitting large amounts of power over long distances. The EGL2 HVDC subsea cable system is approximately 436 km in length, with new converter stations at either end to connect it to the existing transmission network infrastructure.

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Neil Lyons, Project Director for National Grid, said: “Signing contracts with Hitachi Energy, BAM and Prysmian marks another important milestone for the EGL2 project and our supply chain as we begin to deliver the largest electricity transmission project in the UK. We look forward to working with them closely as this vital new network infrastructure progresses.”

This project is part of the significant amount of new network infrastructure, which is believed to be required for net zero. As a result, EGL2 is anticipated to play a critical role in supporting the UK’s future security of supply, reducing dependence and price exposure to volatile global wholesale gas markets.

Niklas Persson, Managing Director at Hitachi Energy’s Grid Integration business, noted: “The UK’s Net Zero Strategy has ambitious targets which will require vast amounts of new renewable generation. Electricity will be the backbone of the entire energy system. Our pioneering HVDC technology will ensure that this electricity will reliably and efficiently get where it’s needed most.”

Source: SSEN Transmission

The EGL2 project will facilitate the growth in flows of renewable generation in the North to demand centers in the South, aiding the UK in achieving a net-zero economy by 2050.