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£2.8million of investment for a green economic recovery in Thurso

By David G Scott

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Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) Distribution is set to accelerate £2.8m of investment in the local electricity network in Thurso, to aid a green recovery and provide additional capacity for future low carbon projects that will help deliver net zero.

SSEN’s strategic investment will help prepare its local infrastructure for the huge increase in demand as electrification of heat and transport gathers pace, with the replacement of transformers in its Ormlie and Mount Pleasant substations boosting the capacity of the local electricity network by 12MW to support the town’s journey to net zero.

SSEN Distribution’s Chris Dodd at an EV charging hub.
SSEN Distribution’s Chris Dodd at an EV charging hub.

This work will support projects to transform EV-charging provision on the A9, at local visitor sites and for emergency service fleets, and is part of a £41m programme of strategic investment by SSEN, unlocking over 122MW of additional capacity across the north of Scotland and central southern England to drive green economic growth, create skilled jobs, and support the deployment of low carbon projects.

SSEN's plans are part of a £300m programme of investment recently announced by the energy regulator Ofgem. As part of the scheme, SSEN will be installing approximately 1000 low voltage monitors at key points across its two distribution network areas, providing near real-time visibility in areas where high levels of electricity demand from increased uptake of electric vehicles and electric heating is predicted. This will enable the network operator to better manage local infrastructure, identifying how best to optimise capacity.

Chris Burchell, managing director, SSEN Distribution, said: “We are determined to play our full part in addressing the twin challenges of the economic and social recovery from coronavirus and the impending climate emergency, where local electricity networks will play a vital role. With COP26 on the horizon, today’s investment demonstrates how collaborative action and regulatory flexibility can help us achieve this aim and power change for our customers and society.

“The green recovery scheme provides a blueprint for future agile investment in our networks in the coming years, where rapid progress will be required to keep pace with net zero. By undertaking £40 million in strategic network investment now, we are helping unlock innovative low carbon projects at the right time, boosting local economies and supporting communities to achieve their net zero ambitions.”

Cabinet secretary for net zero, energy and transport Michael Matheson said: “Scotland is wholly committed to becoming a net zero economy by 2045 and doing so in a way that is just and fair for all. I strongly welcome this investment in Scotland’s energy networks, which will help our progress towards decarbonisation while ensuring that the economic and social benefits of the energy transition are realised across the country.

“We have worked closely with our stakeholders to support the strong and successful bids from Scotland’s network companies for this substantial funding. These projects and investments will support further innovation in green energy, unlocking capacity in our networks to support electrification of transport as well as other technologies like battery storage, renewables and heat pumps.

“This announcement by Ofgem is the product of an agile approach to investment and we must now build on this to ensure that our networks remain capable of supporting Scotland’s net zero transition.”

The full evidence gathered through the expression of interest process will be used to inform SSEN’s future plans, including preparation for the next price control RIIO-ED2 which starts in April 2023, and ongoing connections process.

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