Anglo-Scots electricity superhighway in £2bn fast track

UK energy regulator Ofgem said the proposed “Anglo-Scottish electricity superhighway” to power millions of homes is the first project to progress through its “fast track” process.

Ofgem said the project has received a provisional £2 billion funding package to deliver a subsea energy superhighway which could connect up to two million homes to clean energy. 

“The proposed Eastern Green Link 1 (EGL1) high voltage subsea cable would be able to transport 2GW of homegrown wind generated electricity between East Lothian and County Durham boosting energy security and helping to hit net zero targets,” said Ofgem.

EGL1 is the first of 26 critical energy projects, worth an estimated £20 billion to be fastracked under Ofgem’s new Accelerated Strategic Transmission Investment (ASTI) framework. 

Developed by Ofgem ASTI is designed to speed up the delivery of strategic energy projects to feed in more electricity generated by offshore wind to British consumers.

“ASTI accelerates the project funding process by up to two years, targeting projects critical to meeting the Government’s target of 50GW of offshore wind capacity by 2030, replacing the previous piecemeal, project-by-project approval framework.

Delivery of projects such as EGL1 will not only provide millions of consumers with access to homegrown wind energy, by boosting grid capacity it will further benefit consumers by cutting compensation paid to generators currently asked to turn off production, during times of high wind, due to lack of grid capacity.  

EGL1 is being developed by National Grid Electricity Transmission (NGET) and SP Transmission, part of SP Energy Networks.

“The vast majority of the 196km cable will be under the North Sea, with the remaining 20km of cables underground linking the cable to substations and converter stations in Torness, East Lothian and Hawthorn Pit, County Durham. 

The proposed budget is now subject to a consultation published today (Wednesday 20 March). 

Ofgem scrutinised the costs proposed by developers and identified £43m that could be cut from indirect costs, thereby reducing costs for consumers without impacting project delivery or quality.

“The project is also subject to it securing future planning permission in a process overseen by the Planning Inspectorate.”

Rebecca Barnett, Ofgem Director of Major Projects, said: “To meet future energy demand and Government net zero targets we need to accelerate the pace at which we build the high voltage energy network, which transport homegrown electricity to where it’s needed.  

“Eastern Link 1 is the first project to reach this stage under our new fastrack Accelerated Strategic Transmission (ASTI) process designed to unlock investment, speed up major power projects and boost Britain’s energy security …

“We’ve streamlined the approval process without neglecting our due diligence. We’ve carried out rigorous checks to ensure consumers are shielded from unnecessary costs and made cost adjustments, where we don’t see maximum efficiency and consumer benefit.”