SSEN Transmission’s HVDC Centre extension officially opened


An extension of SSEN Transmission’s simulation, testing and training centre for High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) systems has been officially opened today (26 July 2022).  UK Government Minister for Scotland Malcolm Offord was in attendance.


The Centres’ extension, located in Cumbernauld, is designed to allow the energy industry to expand its collaboration capabilities in modelling and de-risking the use of HVDC Converters, overhead lines, and cables within the electricity network in Great Britain.

Established in 2017, the National HVDC Centre is the first facility of its kind in the UK and uses technology to test the use of HVDC on the GB transmission network which will support the UK and Scotland’s offshore wind ambitions and enable the transition to Net Zero emissions.


HVDC is generally considered the most efficient way to transport electricity over long distances, and it is particularly beneficial for subsea transmission, which will be vital to reinforce the GB grid to support the connection of ScotWind projects and wider GB offshore wind ambitions.


The work undertaken at the National HVDC Centre also aims to support delivery of the National Grid ESO’s ‘Pathway to 2030’ publication, which confirms the need for over £7bn of transmission investment in the north of Scotland and will enable the progression of innovative ‘Pathfinder’ projects through BEIS’ Offshore Transmission Network Review Early Opportunities workstream. The first tranche of ‘Pathfinder’ projects includes SSEN Transmission’s new HVDC Switching Station ‘Project Aquila’ - a project at Peterhead which delivers the first demonstration of multi-vendor operation of a DC network outside of China.


Using powerful computer simulators, which model the electricity network in real time, and replica control systems from different HVDC suppliers, the facility allows electricity transmission owners and operators, suppliers, developers, and academic institutions to study the impact that complex HVDC Systems can have. This can help to identity and mitigate any risks in a safe test environment before the technology goes live on the network.

Rob McDonald, Managing Director of SSEN Transmission said: “The National HVDC Centre in Cumbernauld is playing a critical role in the UK’s transition to Net Zero, creating innovative and more efficient electricity networks of the future. As we connect the renewable energy needed to enable this transition at scale and pace, the requirement for HVDC technology will substantially increase to meet the UK Government’s 50GW offshore wind target by 2030 and support delivery of the British Energy Security Strategy.

“The centre is a vitally important enabler to allow us, and other Transmission Operators, to test and model the use of this innovative technology on the GB network. We’re proud to be extending the facility to expand on this expertise, and we’re delighted to host Minister Offord today as he officially opens the extension to our world leading centre.”

UK Government Minister for Scotland Malcolm Offord said: “As the UK Government focuses on building a clean, home-grown energy network, this facility’s expansion will take us further on the road to net zero, helping get more renewable power to homes and businesses across the whole UK.


“The extension also brings benefits for the local area, securing Cumbernauld’s place at the leading edge of energy innovation, supporting green jobs and boosting the local economy.”


To date, the centre has supported the development of SSEN Transmission’s HVDC technology projects in the North of Scotland, such as the Caithness-Moray subsea transmission link, and the Shetland HVDC link which is currently in construction and will connect the Shetland Isles to the UK mainland electricity network for the first time.