Ofgem backs Shetland subsea power cable plans
Energy regulator Ofgem has approved plans for a subsea power cable which would take energy from Shetland to the Scottish mainland.
Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) wants to build a 600MW electricity transmission link.
Ofgen said this would allow new wind farms on Shetland to export renewable electricity to the rest of Britain.
The regulator said the scheme would also help ensure the supply of electricity on the islands.
However, the approval of SSEN's revised proposals is subject to evidence that a Viking Energy wind farm project will go ahead.
It is estimated that the subsea cable project would cost more than £600m.
It would connect Kergord in Shetland to Noss Head on the Scottish mainland, near Wick in Caithness.
'A unique opportunity'
SSEN described the project - which it hopes to have operational by 2024 - as "the most economic, efficient and timely option to secure Shetland's future energy needs".
It said: "As well as unlocking Shetland's renewable potential, the link would help address Shetland's security of supply needs."
SSEN added that the project would "offer Shetland's oil and gas sector a unique opportunity to decarbonise its operational electricity requirements" and help support the transition to net zero emissions.
Ofgem chief executive Jonathan Brearley said: "Today's announcement will help stimulate economic growth as the economy recovers from Covid-19, as well as unlocking Shetland's potential to supply low cost renewable electricity for consumers across Great Britain."
Energy minister Paul Wheelhouse commented: "I welcome Ofgem's 'minded to approve' decision on the Shetland link.
"This is a hugely important first step for Scotland's island connections, and can unlock significant renewable, economic and social benefits."
Viking Energy welcomed the news and said it would make its final investment decision as soon as possible.