Work commences on new Scottish subsea cable factory

Rob McDonald, Managing Director of SSEN Transmission

IN A significant boost for the UK green energy supply chain, Sumitomo Electric has commenced construction of its state-of-the-art subsea transmission cable factory in the Scottish Highlands. The factory will supply critical elements for the reinforcement of the UK electricity transmission grid and for connecting renewable energy production facilities to the grid.

Today, May 14, 2024, Sumitomo Electric held a ground breaking ceremony at its planned cable factory location at the Port of Nigg, inviting key stakeholders including leading representatives from the UK and Scottish Governments. The event was hosted by Mr. Osamu Inoue, President and COO of Sumitomo Electric Group, and participants included Màiri McAllan, Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero and Energy and other leading representatives of the UK and Scottish Governments.

During the event, SSEN Transmission, a leading UK transmission system operator, announced the selection of Sumitomo Electric and its cable installation partner Van Oord as preferred bidders for the Shetland 2 525kV High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) subsea power cable project, the anchor project enabling construction work to commence.

Shetland 2 is to connect 330km between Shetland and mainland to bring 2GW of renewable electricity to GB network, which forms part of the latest GB wide strategic transmission network plan, “Beyond 2030” where total GBP 5bn investment by SSEN is expected in the north of Scotland by 2035.

Sumitomo Electric is one of the leading global manufacturers of state-of-the-art high-end electricity transmission cables, up to and including 525kV HVDC cable. With more than 100 years’ experience in manufacturing subsea cables, the track record of Sumitomo Electric is extensive and includes the NEMO interconnector between the UK and Belgium, commissioned in 2019 with 400kV HVDC XLPE insulation cable technology with no operational failure of the cable system since then.

The new factory at Nigg, with investment value announced by the Scottish Government of £350M, will make a significant contribution towards realisation of the UK Net Zero Target by contributing to critical electricity transmission infrastructure to connect and deliver renewable energy, including offshore wind, to UK consumers and beyond. In addition, the factory will create more than 150 highly skilled jobs in the Scottish Highlands, with maximum utilisation of the local supply chain for production of cables and construction of transmission cable systems.

Osamu Inoue, President of Sumitomo Electric Group said:
“I am pleased to announce commencement of this innovative High-voltage cable factory in Scotland, and sincerely appreciate SSEN Transmission’s decision to select us as the preferred bidder of Shetland 2 project to enable our significant investment here in the UK. Transmission cables are key essential infrastructures to make so called Energy Transition to renewables into reality. I believe, this factory will make good contributions towards establishment of local supply chains and to realise UK and Scottish Governments’ net zero initiatives.”

Rob McDonald, Managing Director of SSEN Transmission, said:
“We are delighted to reach Preferred Bidder Status with Sumitomo Electric Industries and its subsea cable delivery partner, Van Oord Offshore Wind UK, for the manufacturer and installation of the Shetland 2 HVDC subsea link. Sumitomo’s investment in a new cable manufacturing facility in Nigg will help deliver a homegrown supply chain to help support our energy security and net zero infrastructure requirements. This is great news for the Highland economy and will support hundreds of skilled jobs in the region, helping unleash the economic potential the clean energy transition presents for the north of Scotland.”

Arnoud Kuis, Managing Director Van Oord Offshore Wind, said:
“As a consortium partner of Sumitomo Electric Industries, Van Oord Offshore Wind UK is very pleased to be nominated as the preferred contractor for the Shetland2 project by SSEN Transmission. The Sumitomo/Van Oord partnership exemplifies a synergy of expertise, driving forward a vision of sustainability, reliability, and excellence in building the energy infrastructure of the Shetland 2 project. We are very much looking forward to a successful collaboration with SSEN Transmission and making the Shetland2 project a success”.

Justin Tomlinson, Energy Security and Net Zero Minister, said:
“A second undersea cable connecting Shetland to the Scottish mainland will add 2GW of clean wind-generated power to our grid. Scotland is a green energy powerhouse, and it is fantastic that Sumitomo Electric Industries will build the cable in the Scottish Highlands, creating hundreds more jobs and building up the local supply chain. Since 2010, we have delivered a five-fold increase in renewable power, the second highest amount in Europe, and connecting more renewable energy to the grid will allow the British public to benefit from cheaper clean power.”

Màiri McAllan, Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero and Energy, said:
“Scotland is fast becoming a renewable energy powerhouse. Today’s ceremony highlights this and is an excellent example of the public and private sectors working together to grow Scotland’s economy and protect our environment – key objectives of the Scottish Government. Backed with £24.5 million of public sector funding, this will be Sumitomo’s first cable factory in Europe and the first High Voltage Direct Current cable factory in the UK, creating hundreds of jobs. The fast-growing offshore wind industry offers significant opportunities to attract inward investment and unlock wider economic benefits, not least in our transformational Green Freeports. That is why we providing up to £500 million to anchor the offshore wind supply-chain in Scotland to ensure our workforce, businesses and communities all benefit from the offshore renewables revolution.”

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