Noss Head Switching Station takes major step forwards

  • Construction of building exterior complete

  • Over 20,000 native tree species planted across the site

SSEN Transmission_The Noss Head Switching Station project is striding forwards.jpg

Construction of the new Noss Head Switching Station project which will form a key part of the Shetland HVDC Link is striding forwards with the main building exterior now complete. 

The new switching station will serve as a key component in the 260km subsea cable project between Shetland and the mainland, which will involve connecting the island to the main national grid for the first time.

The 125m long building will house the electrical components used in the Shetland HVDC link, which will allow the flow of electricity to be managed between three underground HVDC circuits - one from a converter station at Spittal in Caithness, one from a converter station at Kergord in Shetland and one to a converter station at Blackhillock in Moray.  A spare connection bay has also been installed for future circuit connections. 

The system will connect to the existing HVDC system between Caithness and Moray, making use of capacity available in the Caithness-Moray subsea cable to allow onward connection to the existing onshore transmission network in Moray and beyond with minimum new infrastructure.

All road surfacing has also been completed to ensure safe, smooth access to the infrastructure.

Watch: A fly-through of the new Noss Head Switching Station

With the main construction of the building complete, Hitachi Energy has now begun work to install their specialist equipment within the switching hall, which is making good progress. 

Cable pulling is underway in the switching hall for the control and protection of the electrical  equipment, with work expected to be completed by the end of the year.

The commissioning process where all subsystems will be integrated and tested is underway and is expected to continue into early 2023 in preparation for the first outage in 2023, which will see the first cables of the Caithness-Moray link connected into the Noss Head Switching Station.

Landscaping bunds have been constructed around the building to help screen the development and lessen the visual impact of the new building.  Since their development, over 20,000 native species of trees and shrubs have been planted on and around these areas, with a further 15,000 to be planted once the site is cleared and office areas removed.  Native wildflowers have also been seeded around the site to help encourage biodiversity by attracting insect and bird species to the area. 

Since construction began in January 2021, the team have been working closely with the local community to help keep them informed as the project develops, as well as to provide support on community initiatives where they can.  Most recently, the team from SSEN Transmission along with their principal contractor BAM Nuttall and principal cable contractor NKT contributed towards the cost of activities for Wick Highlife Highland schools out programme, which supported over 200 young people with different sports activities during the school holidays in October.  The teams also covered the cost of sports programmes during the summer months, which benefitted over 550 young people during the school holidays.  The project team has also made donations to Caithness Foodbank, restored over 900m of footpath around Wick, as well as helped install new colourful lighting around the riverside fountain in Wick, at the request of Wick Community Council and Wick Paths Group. 

Martin Baker, SSEN Transmission Project Manager said:

“We’re really pleased that construction of the Noss Head Switching Station building is complete, marking another major milestone in the Shetland HVDC link project. 

“This means that teams from Hitachi Energy can now progress with work to develop the electrical infrastructure inside, which will ultimately control the flow of electricity from the different HVDC routes and play a vital role in the overall development. 

“Working with the community is something that has been really important to us since before construction even started, and we’re really pleased that ourselves and BAM Nuttall have been able to continue to support a number of brilliant local initiatives, most recently covering the cost for over 750 young people to enjoy sport activities during the October and summer school holidays. 

“A huge credit to the teams and BAM Nuttall for all the hard work in reaching this stage, and we look forward to building on the good progress made so far as we continue to develop the Noss Head Switching Station.”

The Shetland HVDC Link will connect Shetland to the main GB energy system for the first time via a 260km subsea cable, supporting Shetland’s future security of supply as well as enabling the connection of renewable energy generation.  The project is expected to be completed in late 2023.  Read more here: Shetland (

View a short video showing a fly-through of the Noss Head Switching Site visit: