Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks Transmission (SSEN Transmission) redevelops old Blackhillock substation, scheduled for demolition, into new training facility.

Building a new state of the art substation at Blackhillock was a key component of the £1.1bn Caithness-Moray project. Completed in January 2019, the new substation is the largest in the UK, and is home to a High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) converter for the Caithness - Moray subsea link.

Demolition of the existing substation at Blackhillock had been scheduled to take place last year until Training Delivery Manager Brian Robertson suggested the old substation could have a new purpose, supporting SSEN’s transmission network by becoming a training facility.

It was during the early stages of the Caithness-Moray project that Brian first suggested the idea of retaining the substation and turning it into a training resource.  

Brian said: “It was actually while we were discussing the plans for demolition that I first floated the idea of keeping the substation for training, now it’s up and running I’m delighted.

“This facility will enable us to boost the expertise of our workforce, giving engineers and apprentices hands on training in a genuine operational environment, something which didn’t exist before now.

“Our operations staff will be able to complete training which replicates the electricity network in real time, allowing engineers to train to complete operational tasks, identifying and mitigating risks in a safe environment.”

With the renovation of the existing building complete and the provision of new classroom, welfare and office facilities at the training centre, this is just the first step in unlocking the potential of the site. SSEN Transmission hopes that Blackhillock will become a training hub that can be utilised across the energy industry. This bright new future for the substation will further add to the legacy of the Caithness-Moray project, the largest investment in the north of Scotland’s electricity network since the hydro development era of the 1950s.


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