Shetland Link construction progresses

4C Offshore | Tom Russell
By: 15/07/2021 SSEN
SSEN Transmission has announced that work to install 10km of underground cable is now underway in Shetland and Caithness for the 600 MW High-Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) Shetland Interconnector project.

The onshore cable will run from the converter station at Kergord in Shetland and the Switching Station at Noss Head in Caithness to the subsea cable landfall points. Once installed, it will connect with the 260km subsea HVDC cable which will enable Shetland’s connection to the national grid for the first time and facilitate the connection of new renewable generation, unlocking Shetland’s potential to generate and export renewable energy.

The cable installation works are being carried out by SSEN Transmission’s principal contractor, cable specialist NKT, and follows the progress made on the construction of the switching station at Noss Head and the converter station at Kergord.

Lead Project Manager Chris Finnigan, responsible for the HVDC cable installation project, said: “It’s great to see the cable installation getting underway and see Shetland’s connection to the UK grid for the first time becoming a reality. It is a significant milestone for the project, it has taken a lot of hard work and collaboration with our colleagues at NKT to get to this stage.

“We’re extremely grateful to everyone who lives along the respective onshore cable routes for their co-operation and understanding and look forward to delivering the 260km of cabling safely and with the least amount of disruption possible.”

NKT’s Project Director, Arne Abrahamsson, said: “This is a truly significant project, not only in terms of its technical complexity but also the role the project will play in the transition to net zero emissions once it is complete.”

“It has been quite a journey to get to this point in the project, and we are delighted to see everyone’s hard work and the months of planning and pre-construction work coming to fruition.”

As the teams in Shetland and Caithness break ground on the cable installation, NKT has also started work on the manufacture of both the land and submarine cables, joints and terminations, in preparation for next year's installation works.

In addition to preparing to start the onshore cable installation, SSEN Transmission has also been carrying out marine surveys ahead of the installation of the subsea cable section, which is expected to start in late summer 2022. The survey vessel Nordhoek Pathfinder is conducting pre-lay surveys that are carried out to create an updated picture of the subsea cable route from Caithness to Shetland helping the project team to understand the seabed condition, sediment depth, locate bedrock and identify any hazards such as shipwrecks or unexploded ordnances.

For the nearshore route, an autonomous survey vessel has been surveying the cable route close to the Shetland shoreline at Weisdale Voe acquiring survey data at the end of May. The data captured will help to ensure the cable route is designed and constructed to suitably protect the cable and other sea users from harm.

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