Scottish and Southern Energy Power Distribution (SSEPD) is establishing a Western Isles renewable energy steering group.
The group, which will include representatives from the Comhairle, developers and Community Energy Scotland, will explore opportunities for making best use of the existing electricity network and for connecting additional renewables on the islands ahead of network reinforcement.
It has been widely recognised for some time that there is a need to reinforce the electricity transmission network to allow the connection of large-scale renewable developments on the Islands; however, until recently smaller-scale projects and micro renewables were unaffected by constraints on the network.
With over 44MW of renewables having been connected over the past ten years, the local distribution network is now at capacity which means that SSEPD must now take action to protect the network for all electricity users in the Western Isles, both energy customers and existing generators.
Mark Rough, SSEPD’s Director of Commercial, added: “Over the past few years we have connected a significant amount of renewables in the islands but to continue to do so could compromise security of supply to our customers. SSEPD has an obligation to all electricity users to ensure that we operate a safe, efficient and reliable network and so we intend to work closely with local stakeholders to consider alternative connection options for the future.
“We look forward to working together with the Comhairle, communities, developers and renewables groups to explore the opportunities and bring forward some bespoke solutions tailored to the individual requirements of the developers in the Western Isles.”
The delivery of the HVDC link, currently proposed by December 2020, will resolve the current capacity issues on the Western Isles. Until such time as the network is reinforced, SSEPD is committed to working together with the Comhairle, communities, developers and other stakeholders to look at alternative and innovative ways by which to connect additional renewables in the Islands.
It is proposed that the steering group will consider potential solutions such as active network management, demand-side management and other innovative solutions which will allow additional renewables to be connected.
SSEPD is committed to developing solutions and building a business case for continued network investment to support the growth of renewable generation in the Western Isles.