Iberdrola to upgrade UK electricity grid by more than 2,000 MW

Through its subsidiary ScottishPower and National Grid, Iberdrola on Thursday announced the award of a £1bn contract to Siemens and cable manufacturer Prysmian, in order to build the first ever sub-sea electricity link between Scotland and England, Wales.

The major grid upgrade will increase the capacity of electricity flowing between England and Scotland by more than 2,000 megawatts (MW), allowing new renewable energy projects to be developed in Scotland that could power 3 million homes.

The link will be the longest high capacity HVDC (High Voltage Direct Current) cable in the world, running 260 mile long from Hunterston in Ayrshire to a landing point in North Wales. It will also be the first sub-sea interconnector ever using DC voltage level of 600 kilovolts (Kv).  This will result in the link electricity capacity being increased and there will be lower transmission losses.  It is bi-directional, allowing electricity to flow north or south according to future supply and demand. This is an essential part of the UK’s strategic energy plan for an integrated electricity network.

Ignacio Galán, Chairman of ScottishPower, said:

“The HVDC link is a major project in the context of a vital upgrading of the UK electricity grid over the coming years, with the electricity grid between Scotland and England already running close to maximum capacity. The additional capacity from this link will provide a significant boost to renewable energy projects being developed in Scotland.

“We are fully committed to playing our part in the government’s planned infrastructure development programme, and expect to invest a total of £2.6 billion between 2013-2021 on upgrading our transmission network in the UK. Overall, we are projecting investments totalling £12 billion in the UK over the course of this decade.”

Frank Mitchell CEO of SP Energy Networks said:

“This link will have a vital role of play in meeting both the country’s energy needs and helping to address the problem of climate change.”

ScottishPower recently reached an agreement with energy regulator Ofgem to fund an investment plan totalling £2.6 billion over the 8-year period from 2013 to 2021 that will see the creation of up to 1,500 jobs in Scotland.  The company’s plans have been fast tracked for approval by Ofgem, who have agreed a 4.5% rate of return on investment over the period.

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