ScottishPower has recently submitted proposals to the energy regulator Ofgem outlining £3bn of planned investments on its high voltage transmission electricity network in Scotland over the next 10 years. Projects will include the connection of up to 5GW of renewable energy, helping Scotland to achieve its 2020 carbon reduction targets, and extensive upgrades to the electricity grid links between England and Scotland.
The company has also said that this investment in Scotland will create around 1500 new jobs, including substantial recruitment of apprentices and retraining of under25s into highly skilled jobs in over the next decade. Four out of five energy industry employees are set to retire over the next 15 years* and ScottishPower is committed to a major recruitment drive to encourage a new generation of workers in to the industry as well as supporting its contractors and companies in the wider supply chain to do likewise.
First Minister Alex Salmond said:
"I warmly welcome this announcement. Scottish Power's plans to upgrade transmission will ensure the grid is capable of carrying increasing supplies of clean green energy generated to domestic and European markets.
“With plans to harness up to 10 Gigawatts of offshore capacity in Scottish waters by 2020, alongside other renewable sources, it will be essential that generators can distribute power to where it is needed.
“These plans will create hundreds of new jobs and underline the company's commitment to Scotland, as we work together to pursue a low carbon future for these islands and Europe."
In order to support Scotland’s ambition to generate the equivalent of 100% of its own electricity demand from renewable resources by 2020, ScottishPower has proposed to invest significantly in the power lines and cables that are needed to support their connection to the grid.
Under the proposals, the company would be able to connect up to 5GW of new renewable energy projects to the grid in the ScottishPower area and around 11GW across the whole of Scotland. In total across Scotland this will accommodate renewable generation capacity equivalent to four times the size of Longannet power station in Fife, currently the largest electricity generator in Scotland.
Included within the submission are a number of strategically important major projects that the company plans to deliver in the next decade, including increasing the transmission capacity between Scotland and England to at least 6.6GW, allowing the transfer of nearly 3 times more electricity than is currently possible.
Frank Mitchell, CEO of ScottishPower Energy Networks, said: “Massive investment is required to ensure that Scotland’s electricity network is fit for purpose for the 21st century. It is important that we have a modern and robust network to support our renewable energy ambitions and to provide reliability for those who generate electricity and the homes and businesses who rely on this electricity.
“ScottishPower is committed to investing billions of pounds in our transmission network, and we are also committed to offering employment opportunities throughout our supply chain for a new generation of energy industry workers. It is no secret that our industry has an ageing workforce, and we need to encourage new blood in to the fold. We envisage bringing on up to 200 new graduate engineers and key apprentices in the next four years, up to 1000 new highly skilled roles required across ScottishPower by 2020.
“As well as boosting our own staff intake, we will also be sitting down with contractors and suppliers to outline what we will need over the next decade to deliver this work, and to encourage them to invest in a new generation of workers as well.”
This increase in export capacity from Scotland to England will mean that electricity generators in Scotland will be much less likely to be constrained by lack of access to the national grid network. At present, power plants can be asked to shut down or run at a reduced capacity if the grid system is full. National Grid, who balance the electricity network in Britain, pay compensation to electricity generators if they are asked to switch off when the grid is at full capacity. ScottishPower estimates that this work will result in constraint cost savings of £1.6bn by 2021, rising to £11bn by 2030.
ScottishPower will also invest heavily to maintain the reliability of its transmission network, which is over 99% reliable at present. To ensure this continued high performance, the company will upgrade nearly a fifth of its substation equipment and replace or refurbish approximately 800 circuit km of overhead line.
*Figures from the National Skills Academy for Power (NSAP)
Media information – Simon McMillan 0141 566 4875 / 07753 622 257