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Anthony Renton Dreamstime

SSEN Transmission Expands HVDC Technology Center in Scotland

Sept. 6, 2022
The center’s extension, located in Cumbernauld, Scotland, allows the energy industry to expand its collaboration capabilities in modelling and de-risking the use of HVDC converters

An extension of SSEN Transmission’s simulation, testing and training center for high voltage direct current (HVDC) systems is now open. The center’s extension, located in Cumbernauld, Scotland, allows the energy industry to expand its collaboration capabilities in modelling and de-risking the use of HVDC converters, overhead lines and cables within the electricity network in Great Britain.

Established in 2017, the National HVDC Center is the first facility of its kind in the UK and uses developing technology to test the use of HVDC on the GB transmission network which will be vital to support the UK and Scotland’s offshore wind ambitions and enable the transition to net zero emissions.

HVDC is generally the most efficient way to transport electricity over long distances, and it is particularly beneficial for subsea transmission, which will be vital to reinforce the GB grid to support the connection of ScotWind projects and wider GB offshore wind ambitions as outlined in the UK Government’s British Energy Security Strategy.

The work undertaken at the national HVDC center will also support delivery of the National Grid ESO’s Pathway to 2030 publication, which confirms the need for over £7 billion of transmission investment in the north of Scotland and will enable the progression of innovative Pathfinder projects through BEIS’ Offshore Transmission Network Review Early Opportunities workstream.

The first tranche of Pathfinder projects includes SSEN Transmission’s new HVDC Switching Station Project Aquila – a project at Peterhead which is a multi-vendor operation of a DC network.

Using computer simulators, which model the electricity network in real time, and replica control systems from different HVDC suppliers, the facility allows electricity transmission owners and operators, suppliers, developers and academic institutions from across the world to study the impact that complex HVDC systems can have. This can help to identity and mitigate any risks in a safe test environment before the technology goes live on the network.

The extension to the center, which was officially opened by UK Government Minister Malcolm Offord, will allow the center to expand its expertise and excellence in this field, paving the way for first in kind technology advances and cementing Scotland and the UK’s place as international leaders in HVDC technology.

“The National HVDC Center in Cumbernauld is playing a critical role in the UK’s transition to net zero, creating innovative and more efficient electricity networks of the future. As we connect the renewable energy needed to enable this transition at scale and pace, the requirement for HVDC technology will substantially increase to meet the UK Government’s 50GW offshore wind target by 2030 and support delivery of the British Energy Security Strategy,” said Rob McDonald, Managing Director of SSEN Transmission.

“As the UK Government focuses on building a clean, home-grown energy network, this facility’s expansion will take us further on the road to net zero, helping get more renewable power to homes and businesses across the whole UK,” said UK Government Minister for Scotland Malcolm Offord.

To date, the center has played a crucial role in the development of SSEN Transmission’s HVDC technology projects in the North of Scotland, such as the Caithness-Moray subsea transmission link, and the Shetland HVDC link which is currently in construction and will connect the Shetland Isles to the UK mainland electricity network.

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