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'Excellent progress' on Caithness HVDC Switching Station site at Noss


By Alan Hendry

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The Noss site is being prepared for the main construction of the converter station. Picture: Alan Hendry
The Noss site is being prepared for the main construction of the converter station. Picture: Alan Hendry

Energy firm SSEN Transmission says "excellent progress" is being made on its massive construction site near Noss Head.

The company and its principal contractor for civil works, BAM Nuttall, began building the Caithness HVDC Switching Station at the end of November as part of the Shetland HVDC project.

Once complete, the switching station will play a key role in facilitating the connection of renewable energy from Shetland to the GB transmission system via a 250km subsea cable.

The facility at Noss will allow the flow of electricity to be managed between three underground HVDC circuits – one from a converter station at Spittal, one from a converter station at Kergord in Shetland and one to a converter station at Blackhillock in Moray.

The Spittal HVDC converter station went online in December 2018.

Enabling works are well under way alongside the minor road leading to Noss from Wick and Staxigoe with the aim of getting the site ready for the main construction of the converter station.

Enabling works are well under way alongside the minor road leading to Noss Head. Picture: Alan Hendry
Enabling works are well under way alongside the minor road leading to Noss Head. Picture: Alan Hendry

In addition to the construction of a temporary haul road, completed in February, the earthworks and site drainage works that started before Christmas will continue over the next six months.

All the excavated earth will be retained and used to create the landscaped earth bunds which will help screen the site.

Between now and May the site compound will start to take shape. The site offices will arrive, along with additional welfare facilities that will be the home for the team over the next three to four years.

The foundation works for the main switching station are scheduled to start in May.

February also saw the start of road improvement works to help visibility and safety around the junction of the A99/Ackergill road. Similar improvements will be completed at the junction between the Ackergill road and the Ackergill Farm access road and additional passing places will be constructed on the Ackergill road. These works are expected to be completed by April.

Over the next few months the site will be taking delivery of plant and equipment for the main site works, including articulated dump trucks, excavators and rollers. Stone and cement will come from Bower Quarry to be used for the foundation works.

There will also be the potential start of horizontal directional drilling works to the east of the Noss Head road where the HVDC cable from Shetland will make landfall.

During the course of the project various community events will be arranged, with the first of these expected within the next three months.

Project manager Fionan Doonan said: “We have made excellent progress on the project in just a few short months. The team have battled some challenging weather conditions but the site is now starting to take shape.

"Over the next three months the team will be focused on the major earthworks for the platform build-up and the concrete works to commence site compound and office set-up.

"We will be sharing regular updates on the project. To join our mailing list please visit our project web page to sign up.”

More details can be found here.


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