Page last updated at 17:20 GMT, Wednesday, 6 January 2010

The Scottish transmission revamp

Car passing electricity towers
The upgraded transmission lines would carry power from renewable energy projects

Electricity projects costing more than £1bn have been planned for Scotland, on top of the newly approved Beauly to Denny transmission line upgrade.

Power lines in the Highlands, Moray and Aberdeenshire, along with underwater cables from Shetland and the Western Isles, have been put forward.

A third sub-sea cable has been proposed to take power from wind farms in Argyll to Hunterston in North Ayrshire.

Regulator Ofgem has identified three projects for potential funding.

Scottish Hydro-Electric Transmission Limited (SHETL), a subsidiary of Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE), is leading the projects.

Scottish Power Transmission Limited (SPTL), part of Scottish Power, is involved in the Argyll-North Ayrshire project.

The schemes are:


Known as the East Coast Line and suggested by opponents of the Beauly Denny project as an alternative to upgrading the power line through the Highlands to central Scotland.

Beauly, near Inverness, is the site of a major substation that converts the voltage of electricity generated by renewable power projects to levels that can be distributed to other parts of Scotland.

Blackhillock, near Keith, and Kintore in Aberdeenshire are also sites of existing substations.

Costing a total of £81m, the plan is to upgrade rather than rebuild the transmission line.

Ofgem is assessing the project for consideration for funding.


The transmission line from Beauly to Dounreay in the far north is also earmarked for an upgrade at a total cost of £71m. Existing electricity towers would be used.

Ofgem is assessing the scheme for consideration for funding.


SHETL has proposed building a new sub station at Knocknagael, near Inverness.

An exisiting 275,000 volts overhead transmission line would be connected to the new station.

The total cost of the project has been put at £40m.

Ofgem is assessing its potential for investment.


The project is for a 132,000 volts sub-sea cable to carry power from wind farms on the Kintyre peninsula in Argyll to Hunterston in North Ayrshire from where the electricity would be distributed.

Ofgem said there was a strong need for improving the export of electricity from Kintyre but will not commit to an offer of support at this stage because the route for the cable and site for a new substation have still to be confirmed.

However, according to the regulator, a planning application could be submitted by the developers next January.


Costed at £547m, the plan is for converter stations and a sub-sea cable from the islands to Moray.

If it goes ahead, it would connect Shetland to the National Grid for the first time.

Ofgem will consider whether to invest in the scheme after it receives further information from SHETL.

Construction could begin next year or in 2011.


SHETL submitted planning applications last October for the construction of the necessary infrastructure needed to link a sub-sea high-voltage electricity transmission line from the islands to the mainland.

It would eventually link up wind farms on the Western Isles with Beauly.

However, Ofgem has held off considering the project until it gets more details. Its consultants said only a "limited" number of potential renewable power projects that would use the link have been granted planning permission so far.

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