Orkney has become one of Britain’s foremost centres for innovation in renewable energy and is home to some of Europe’s greatest renewable resources, from onshore wind to wave and tidal.  Following the significant growth in small scale renewable electricity generation over recent years, the existing Orkney electricity network is now at full capacity and no further generation can connect without significant network reinforcements. 

Due to a number of factors over recent years the contracted generation background has varied to the extent that it has not been possible to proceed with the reinforcement to date. This has left the Orkney reinforcement project in a catch-22 situation of: customers being unable to progress projects because the reinforcement is uncertain and the reinforcement being unable to progress because customers are uncertain; which overall results in there being no opportunity for connection on Orkney. In order to progress the reinforcement and create an opportunity for connection we are proposing an Alternative Approach to provide the network reinforcement to the Orkney Islands to meet the needs of renewable generators.                           

Our Alternative Approach aims to unlock Orkney’s renewable potential by creating an opportunity for those ‘ready to connect’ via a staged approach to network reinforcement.  This Alternative Approach provides the most economical and efficient solution by reinforcing the network in incremental stages and allocating capacity on a ready to connect basis. This Alternative Approach would allow reinforcement to be progressed and overcome barriers  previously faced by the reinforcement project, implemented on a trial basis pending approval from the industry regulator, Ofgem. We believe the Alternative Approach will overcome the catch 22 currently facing Orkney, allowing reinforcement to progress and meet the long-standing need of renewable generators wishing to connect.

The Alternative Approach is a customer driven approach based on stakeholders’ feedback and our experience of developing the reinforcement project. We have today launched a public consultation on the principles, development and framework for the proposed Alternative Approach to the reinforcement of Orkney.  In order to ensure we develop a solution that not only works for network companies but also the wider industry and its connection customers, we want to hear stakeholder views.  Following the outcome of this initial consultation we will consult further on the detail of the proposed Alternative Approach in the summer of 2018.

If you are interested in responding to the consultation, please visit the dedicated project page – the consultation will be open until 12 March 2018.

The consultation document can be downloaded here.

About the author

Lauren Milligan, Commercial Policy Manager

Lauren Milligan joined SSE in 2016 from the industry regulator Ofgem as part of the Corporate Business Services Directorate working in the networks regulation team focusing on connections services and customer relationship management for the Distribution business. In September 2017 Lauren joined the Networks Development team in SSEN as a Commercial Policy Manager covering policy issues such as queue management, connection charges and extending competition in transmission. Lauren is responsible for any policy and commercial arrangements for Orkney Transmission customers as well as working with the Distribution business to provide an SSEN alternative Approach to the Orkney reinforcement.  

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