We’re always looking ahead and striving to protect and empower the UK here at ScottishPower. So in February 2012, ScottishPower Transmission and the National Grid announced the new WesternLink project: A £1.3bn contract to build the first ever subsea electricity link between Scotland and England/Wales.
Awarded to Siemens and cable manufacturer Prysmian, the major grid upgrade allows capacity of electricity flowing between England and Scotland to be increased by more than 2,200 megawatts (MW). That’s enough to power three million homes. And the best bit? It means new renewable energy projects can be developed in Scotland that could power 3 million homes.
The UK electricity grid is in need of upgrading. And the electricity grid between Scotland and England is already running close to maximum capacity. But we have a vision. In it, the new HVDC project plays a significant role as it boosts both capacity and also future Scottish renewable energy projects. Altogether the new HVDC (High Voltage Direct Current) means a difference to Scotland, the UK as a whole, and of course, the future of our planet.
Our plans don’t end there, though. Iberdrola and ScottishPower are fully committed to playing our part in the government’s planned infrastructure development programme. In fact, we expect to invest a total of £2.6 billion between 2013 and 2021 upgrading our transmission network in the UK.
At the time of the announcement in February, Frank Mitchell, CEO of SP Energy Networks, said: “This project has been under development for over three years and the deployment of this technology at such a large scale is leading edge. It will create a benchmark for future projects both in the UK and globally and will help connect existing renewable projects that are waiting to be linked into the grid.”
Size and scale
Here are a few of the remarkable facts about the new HVDC link:
- First ever sub-sea link between Scotland and England/Wales
- Increase flow of electricity by more than 2,200 megawatts (MW)
- The highest capacity sub-sea HVDC cable anywhere in the world
- 425km long high-voltage cable link will run from Hunterston in Ayrshire to a landing point on the Wirral peninsula
- Due to be operational by 2016.
As part of our commitment to secure future power for the whole of the UK, there are many benefits to the HVDC link. The increase in electricity capacity and the lower transmission losses are fantastic news, but as the first ever bi-directional cable, it also allows electricity to flow north or south according to future supply and demand. This versatility is an essential part of the UK’s strategic energy plan for an integrated electricity network. We’re proud of being able to use our power to change things for the better.