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Western HVDC Link celebrates its five year anniversary


Five for five. As the Western HVDC Link celebrates its five year anniversary, we look back on five key facts.

This month marks five years since power started flowing through the Western Link, a £1.2 billion joint venture delivered and operated by SP Transmission (SPT) and National Grid Electricity Transmission (NGET).

The Link is the highest capacity single subsea link in the world.  It is also the first bi-directional subsea interconnector (capable of transmitting energy in both directions).  It connects Ardneil Bay on the west coast of Scotland with Quay Bay, on the north coast of Wales, through a route of some 420km of cable, of which approximately 385km is subsea.

Western HVDC Link

This connection enables the transmission of renewable energy generated in Scotland to homes and businesses in Wales and England, while also increasing interconnection capacity by over 2,200 megawatts (MW), enough to supply the electrical demand of more than four million homes every year.  This will also make a significant contribution to security of supply by effectively doubling Scotland’s import capacity.

With the huge potential of growing renewable energy both being connected and planned to be connected in Scotland, the Western Link is delivering long term benefits to our customers while simultaneously supporting the UK Government’s ambitions of decarbonising our economy, and ultimately enabling Net Zero carbon emissions.

So, as we celebrate five years of the Link – here are five key facts on the project: 

  1. In the five years since its completion, Western Link has transmitted 23,483GWh of green energy
  2. In the last 12 months, Western Link has achieved 98.48% energy availability (compared to a 97% contract target).
  3. Across the planning, development and build stages of the project – Western Link supported 450 high-quality jobs in our communities.
  4. The Western Link is a clear example of our commitment to investing in the UK and has a planned lifespan of 40 years.
  5. During the development and build of the project, marine engineers found the wreck of a WW1 German U-boat while surveying the sea bed off the coast of Wigtownshire.  Folklore has it the sinking may even have been the result of an attack by a great sea monster...

Reflecting on the milestone, Vicky Kelsall, CEO, SP Energy Networks, commented:

“Having reached its five year anniversary, we will continue to work hard to ensure the long term success of Western Link and will look to build upon the vital experience we have gained to make certain that the Link reliably continues to play a significant role in the wider UK transmission system, further securing the energy needs of the UK for at least the next forty years. 

"The project represents a great example of what the transmission operators can achieve for the UK’s energy consumers through effective partnership.  Both teams have adapted brilliantly to the asset management challenges associated with high voltage direct current (HVDC), and I am incredibly proud of the efforts of all of the team from both NGET and SPT, some of whom were involved from design all the way through to delivery.”

Peter Roper, Project Director, SP Transmission, added:

“The Western Link provided invaluable experience for us.  SPT and NGET are now progressing with the tender for our next critical link, the Eastern Link 1 Project, which is due in service in 2027.  The project will see approximately 200km of some of the highest capacity, new design XLPE HVDC cables installed underwater from East Lothian in Scotland to South Hetton in County Durham – delivering 2GW of capacity, unlocking even more renewable energy. It will provide a vital new energy link between Scotland and England; enabling additional security of supply for Scotland and the means to utilise significant on and offshore green energy generation.”


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