Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has “cautiously” welcomed the announcement by Scottish & Southern Energy Networks (SSEN) that a replacement subsea cable between Skye and Harris will be in place before next winter. He highlighted the need for SSEN not to let that timetable slip, and stressed the great difficulties for community renewables that there will be until the link is renewed.

Following analysis of procurement, cable manufacture and licensing considerations, it is expected that the replacement cable will be energised and operational by end August 2021.  The replacement 33kV cable, which will provide an increase in capacity of between 8 and 10MW compared to the existing link, is expected to arrive in the UK in late May.  

Alasdair Allan MSP commented:

“This is encouraging news, as Lewis and Harris have not been connected to the national grid since the cable broke.

“I have had discussions with SSEN and other stakeholders, who have made clear that the current power generation capabilities in the island are capable of meeting the demands of island consumers over this winter. However, it was also made clear that this comes with an impact in terms of fuel costs and significantly higher emissions.

“Many will be disappointed, as am I, that the opportunity is not being taken by SSEN to install a larger capacity cable, though the waiting time involved for that would, I would recognise, have been completely unacceptable. The earliest date that a larger cable would be able to be operational by would be February 2023. Also, the extra capacity would not be usable until at least 2025 due to other network constraints on the mainland. It is to be hoped therefore that the firm date next year for a replacement cable will now be met.

“I am very conscious, however, that the current situation is causing real problems for many community renewables projects and the organisations which they support locally. I hope that SSEN will now open up some more capacity for these projects by lessening some of the constraints currently in place.”

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