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Scottish islands seek aid for subsea green power ‘export’ link

1 February 2008 – Funding is being sought to build a subsea power cable to take green energy from the Western Isles to England and southern Scotland, according to The Scotsman.

The 362-mile NordNed cable linking Norway and the Netherlands, costing £431m (£857m), is being built with £100m coming from the European Investment Bank.
Now councillors in the Western Isles are urging the EIB to make a similar investment to help connect the islands to the network.

Angus Campbell, vice-convener of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council), said he has been watching the progress of the NorNed project with interest: “This project is very similar to what we have been trying to get to link the Western Isles to the electricity markets down south.

“We have been told by the EU that the islands’ location shouldn’t mean that we do not get the grid connections that we need in order to take advantage of the renewable energy potential we have on land and offshore. In fact, EU policy deliberately sets out to enable peripheral areas to take advantage of this.

“We would welcome a similar investment from the EIB to enable a subsea power transmission cable to be built.”

The Western Isles is waiting for a decision from the Scottish Government on an application to build what would be Europe’s largest wind farm to date in the north of Lewis, which would generate more than 600 MW of electricity.

A number of smaller projects are also under consideration, which would take the islands’ generating capacity to well over 1 GW.

Alex Salmond, the First Minister, revealed recently he is to meet Jens Stoltenberg, the Norwegian prime minister, in the New Year over plans to create a subsea “supergrid” to take green energy from Scotland to Europe. He said Scotland has six to seven times the power it needs and a subsea grid would help take it to energy-poor areas.

Western Isles Council is also in discussion with the Westminster government and with energy industry regulator Ofgem to change the charging system for companies, which want access to the National Grid to transmit power. The system currently penalises generators in peripheral areas.