Pilot Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Marine Spatial Plan - Socio-Economic Baseline Review

This Socio-Economic Baseline Review provides a regional overview of the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters area for the pilot Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Marine Spatial Plan. It also informs the Sustainability Appraisal for this Plan.

12 Power Interconnectors, Distribution and Telecom Cables

12.1 Spatial Extent and Intensity of Activity and Interests

12.1.1 A number of subsea power cables are laid within the PFOW area including two 33 kV cables connecting Orkney with mainland Scotland. Due to the increasing quantity of renewable energy generation which has been connected or is contracted to be connected, the connection has now reached full capacity [48] .

12.1.2 In the PFOW area Scottish and Southern Energy Power Distribution ( SSEPD) has been undertaking work in relation to the 'Orkney Caithness' 132kV reinforcement connection since the Crown Estate Leasing Round in 2010. The existing cable between Orkney and Caithness is at full capacity and SSEPD are looking at options to develop a new connection to allow marine renewable energy developers to connect to the transmission network in Caithness. This will provide grid access for marine renewable energy projects and, potentially, onshore wind projects across the whole of Orkney. SSEPD has undertaken planning and consultation in Orkney regarding grid capacity and landfall for cables.

12.1.3 There are four international telecom cables intersecting the PFOW area. The Northern Lights telecom cable owned by BT was installed in June 2008. The Northern Lights connects Orkney to the Scottish mainland, intersecting West Orkney South, West Orkney Middle South and Brough Head wave energy sites. The cable has sections which are buried and sections which are surface laid. The section of cable which intersects with the wave lease sites present within the PFOW is surface laid.

12.1.4 Figure 13 shows the telecommunication and power cables intersecting the PFOW.

12.2 Economic value and employment

12.2.1 No data are currently available on the economic value specifically associated with power interconnectors and telecom cables in the PFOW area. Industry GVA data ( e.g. for the oil and gas sector) will be inclusive, in part, of the value added as a result of such assets.

12.3 Historic and future trends

12.3.1 Future trends for power interconnectors will naturally be dependent on future energy development. The extent to which new telecommunication cables which will be laid within the PFOW area is not known.

12.4 Data Gaps and Limitations

12.4.1 There is currently no agreed method for valuing the services provided by cables as they form part of a wider infrastructure network. Given the uncertainty over what and where new cables may be placed, the costs associated with future cable development are difficult to predict and are thus best treated on a case by case basis at an individual project level.

Figure 13 Telecom and power cables in the PFOW [49]

Figure 13 Telecom and power cables in the PFOW


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