Electricity superhighway gets £3bn provisional funding

UK energy regulator Ofgem announced that a provisional funding package of £3.4 billion has been announced for a proposed subsea and underground 500 km electricity “superhighway” between Scotland and Yorkshire which could power up to two million homes. 

Eastern Green Link 2 (EGL2) is a proposed 2GW high voltage electricity superhighway cable link between Peterhead in Aberdeenshire and Drax in North Yorkshire.

Most of the cable — around 436 km — will be under the North Sea with the remaining 70 km buried underground onshore.

EGL2 is being jointly developed by Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks Transmission (SSENT)  and National Grid Electricity Transmission (NGET) with construction planned to start in 2024, with the new connection due to be operational by 2029. 

Two converter stations, one at each end of the cable, are planned to help feed the electricity transported by the cable into the grid and from there onto consumers.  

Designed to help harness the potential of Britain’s offshore wind power, EGL2 is the second project so far to proceed under Ofgem’s new fast track Accelerated Strategic Transmission Investment (ASTI) framework.

Earlier this month the first ASTI project, Eastern Green Link 1 (EGL1),  another subsea link between England and Scotland, received a provisional £2 billion funding package. 

ASTI is designed to speed up the delivery of strategic energy projects, enabling more electricity generated by offshore wind to be delivered to British consumers.

“The new framework accelerates the project funding process by up to two years,” said Ofgem in a stock exchange statement.

“EGL2 is one of 26 projects identified as critical to meeting the Government’s target of 50GW of offshore wind capacity by 2030 and included in Ofgem’s ASTI cohort.  

“The project is financed by the developers with costs later recouped through bills.

“To ensure consumer costs are minimised Ofgem has scrutinised the costs proposed by the developers under the ASTI process.

“It has identified £67 million that could be cut from indirect costs without impacting project delivery or quality. 

“Delivery of projects such as EGL2 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.”

Rebecca Barnett, Ofgem Director of Major Projects, said: “To ensure we meet future energy demand and achieve Government net zero targets we must speed up the expansion of the high voltage electricity network which connects consumers to homegrown energy.

“Eastern Link 2 is the second project to reach this stage under our new Accelerated Strategic Transmission (ASTI) process which has been designed to boost Britain’s energy security by unlocking investment and speeding up the delivery of major power projects …

“However just because we’ve streamlined the approval process doesn’t mean we’re handing developers blank cheques. The ASTI framework helps ensure consumers are protected from unnecessary costs and we make budget adjustments where we don’t see maximum efficiency and benefit for consumers.” 

The proposed budget is now subject to a consultation. The project is also subject to it securing future planning permission in a process overseen by the Planning Inspectorate.