SSEN to deliver £2million of strategic network investment to accelerate a green economic recovery on the Western Isles
Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) Distribution is set to accelerate £2m of investment in the local electricity network on the Western Isles, to aid a green recovery and provide additional capacity for low carbon projects that will help deliver net zero.
The investment programme will be focussed on upgrading the Clachan Primary Substation in North Uist, which connects to the island of Berneray in the north, and south across Benbecula towards South Uist, and will see the existing transformer replaced with two upgraded counterparts, which will increase the capacity of the network serving around 1,300 homes and businesses on the islands.
By creating 6.31MW of additional network capacity, this accelerated investment will support future growth and facilitate the progress of green projects and low carbon technologies across local communities on North Uist, South Uist and Benbecula.
Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL) is commencing a programme to replace small ‘loch class’ vessels serving the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services network. In line with Scottish Government climate change commitments, the programme aims to deliver low emission vessels utilising the latest proven battery and onshore charging technologies.
Jim Anderson, Director of Vessels at Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited said:
“This is welcome investment in island energy infrastructure by SSEN and potentially improves the feasibility of using electricity as an alternative to diesel fuel for new vessels. The viability of bringing more fully electric or hybrid ferries into the fleet will depend largely on the grid capacity of the islands they serve. Environmental considerations are a core part of our vessel planning process and we are committed to exploring new fuel technologies to reduce the impact of the maritime sector on the climate and help create a net zero emissions country.”
SSEN’s investment at the Clachan site will also ensure that the network is ready to support the islands’ transition to electric vehicles (EV), with increased EV demand expected on the islands of North Uist, South Uist and Benbecula.
In particular, the green recovery investment by SSEN will support the North Uist Development Company’s (NUDC) core aim to develop a sustainable and viable community, through the delivery of key development projects.
NUDC’s recent projects have included Uist Wind and being involved in Uist Energy in Motion, a project led by Urachadh Uibhist in collaboration with Community Energy Scotland and Cothrom, educating the local community about carbon emissions and how electric vehicles (EVs) could reduce carbon footprint on the islands, developing an owners’ forum for EV owners and encouraging future development and installation of two electric fast charge points on the island.
Dr Ameena Camps, Project Delivery Manager, North Uist Development Company, said:
"NUDC submitted a suite of grid improvement options to the Green Recovery call for evidence, working in collaboration with Coimhearsnachd Bharraidh agus Bhatarsaidh Ltd, Community Energy Scotland and Stòras Uibhist. We are very pleased SSEN will be investing at the Clachan Primary Substation, which is most certainly a step in the right direction to enable the realisation of the community's low-carbon transition aspirations in line with developing local energy plans. I hope this marks the start of a collaborative journey in partnership with SSEN to support further improvements across the Outer Hebrides with far-reaching benefits including reduced carbon emissions and alleviation of fuel poverty”.
This investment in the Western Isles is part of a £41m programme of strategic investment by SSEN which will unlock over 122MW of additional capacity across the north of Scotland and central southern England to drive green economic growth, create skilled jobs, and support the deployment of low carbon projects.
As part of scheme, SSEN will be installing approximately 1,000 low voltage monitors at key points across its two distribution network areas, providing near real-time visibility in areas where high levels of electricity demand from increased uptake of electric vehicles and electric heating is predicted. This will enable the network operator to better manage local infrastructure, identifying how best to optimise capacity.
SSEN's plans are part of a £300m programme of investment announced on Monday (24th May) by the energy regulator Ofgem.
Chris Burchell, Managing Director, SSEN Distribution, said:
“We are determined to play our full part in addressing the twin challenges of the economic and social recovery from coronavirus and the impending climate emergency, where local electricity networks will play a vital role. With COP26 on the horizon, today’s investment demonstrates how collaborative action and regulatory flexibility can help us achieve this aim and power change for our customers and society.
“The green recovery scheme provides a blueprint for future agile investment in our networks in the coming years, where rapid progress will be required to keep pace with net zero. By undertaking £40 million in strategic network investment now, we are helping unlock innovative low carbon projects at the right time, boosting local economies and supporting communities to achieve their net zero ambitions.”
Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport Michael Matheson said:
“Scotland is wholly committed to becoming a net zero economy by 2045 and doing so in a way that is just and fair for all. I strongly welcome this investment in Scotland’s energy networks, which will help our progress towards decarbonisation while ensuring that the economic and social benefits of the energy transition are realised across the country.
“We have worked closely with our stakeholders to support the strong and successful bids from Scotland’s network companies for this substantial funding. These projects and investments will support further innovation in green energy, unlocking capacity in our networks to support electrification of transport as well as other technologies like battery storage, renewables and heat pumps.
“This announcement by Ofgem is the product of an agile approach to investment and we must now build on this to ensure that our networks remain capable of supporting Scotland’s net zero transition.”
The full evidence gathered through the expression of interest process will be used to inform SSEN’s future plans, including preparation for the next price control RIIO-ED2 which starts in April 2023, and ongoing connections process.
To launch the community survey for the North Uist Environment Centre we are also launching the Environment Centre photography competition for your chance to have your photographs displayed in the permanent exhibition. See poster for more information.
Entries should be submitted by 11.59pm on Monday the 31st of May. Don't forget to complete the #communitysurvey too! #ForNature #northuist
Photography Competition Poster
NU Environment Centre - Your ideas
On International Biodiversity Day, North Uist Development Company (NUDC) has launched the base plans and community survey for the new Environment Centre which is being developed in Lochmaddy, North Uist.
The plans have been developed with the designers Da Capo Limited thanks to funding from the Islands Green Recovery Programme. The next phase is to develop the content with the community's help, and are asking the local community - What should be included in your Environment Centre?
To input your ideas, follow the link to the survey @ www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/NUDC-DesignSurvey
Or, you can download the printed copy here and return to firstname.lastname@example.org
Da Capo Limited are working with NUDC to install the exhibition as soon as possible, so are asking for responses before 11:59pm on Monday 31st of May 2021. Please note the survey is now closed.
Don't miss out on the chance to shape this new exciting natural environment exhibition.
The concept of the Environment Centre originated from a Steering Group which explored the creation a Hebridean Archaeological and Environmental Research Centre (HAERC). A Feasibility Study was carried out by EKOS and completed in 2015 emphasising significant interest in the environment of the Uists by both locals and visitors. The North Uist community identified the Environment Centre as one of three priority projects which is highlighted in NUDC Local Development Plan 2018-2023. Again, during consultation for the 2018 feasibility study for the former Lochmaddy School re-development, the community ranked ‘Environmental Centre - Focus on Geology and Natural Environment’ first amongst options; with all subsequent consultation results since showing strong support. A separate survey with North Uist Primary School as part of the Uist Wind project also highlighted the younger generations concerns over damage to the natural environment with a need to protect it.
The former School is now in the hands of the community, thanks to the Scottish Land Fund, and funding has been acquired by the Islands Green Recovery Programme to design and install the exhibition space in the former sports hall/assembly room of the building. Your Environment Centre The new Environment Centre will be a new innovative facility showcasing the unique natural environment of the Uists and Barra, providing tourism information, a new visitor attraction and, acting as an educational engagement point demonstrating the importance of conservation practices for future generations. This will also act as a base for #voluntourism and #ecotourism as well as, incorporating a bouldering rock wall to encourage active outdoor lifestyles and environmental interaction in the comfort of an indoor setting.
The Environmental Centre is intended to:
• Celebrate Uist & Barra's magnificent natural environment.
• Fill the existing short-fall in readily available information including inter-relationships between various components of the natural environment.
• Provide an educational resource for schools.
• Provide a forum for community and visitors alike to engage meaningfully with the outdoors whilst minimising adverse environmental impact.
• Provide a forum for meaningful discussion of environmental conservation issues and identifying sustainable ways forward.
• Provide information on sustainable technologies and practices to help mitigate the climate emergency and promote a green recovery.
The motto for the wider development - the ‘Àrainneachd Àlainn’ Community Hub and Environment Centre - is ‘Our Island, Our Environment, Our future’, as the future is in our hands. The Environment Centre aims to empower our community and visitors to grasp the opportunities available to change our future.
NUDC aims to communicate project milestones and successes as widely as possible, and this news feed highlights key articles.