Aquatera Getting to Grips with the Grid

May 10th 2010

Securing suitable grid connections is a core requirement for any renewables project.

Over the last decade Orkney company Aquatera has made grid issues a key focus of its work.

Aquatera has engaged on numerous occasions with the National Grid, Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission Limited (SHETL), Ofgem and the Scottish and Westminster Governments. It has also provided grid connection advice and plans to a number of technology and project developers as well as the local transmission network operators.


  • How much resource is exploitable?
  • Where is the exploitable resource?
  • What routes could sub-sea and overland connections take to connect to these resources?
  • Where are possible locations for key grid infrastructure?
  • What price is affordable locally for using transmission grid systems?

Having an overview of such a complex and strategically important issue has been of key importance to Aquatera and of prime value to its clients.

Duncan Clarke, from Aquatera, said: “When project developers come to us for site selection advice, or local authorities are seeking to develop coherent planning policy, or grid companies are planning possible grid upgrades, they are all seeking the same information – the best way to provide enduring grid connections. “

Grid planning provides a showcase for a number of the systems the company has developed over the years, including resource assessment packages, spatial planning tools, landscape visualisation, and core impact assessment methods.

This integrated toolbox of resources is being applied to the design and permitting of a new HVDC connection for Caithness, incorporating an offshore hub platform and related onshore infrastructure for SHETL.

This work follows on from an earlier study which considered connections between Orkney and Caithness. 

It further develops an integrated plan that will hopefully provide enough connectivity to export the 1.2 gigawatts (GW) of marine capacity announced in the recent Crown Estate leasing round, along with planned onshore and offshore wind capacity in the region. Aquatera managing director Gareth Davies said: “The Orkney and Caithness environment is highly prized, widely used and technically challenging.

“Threading grid infrastructure through such environments requires effort, care, innovation and understanding. This has been a key driver for us to develop state of the art tools and approaches to support the process.”

He believes an important benefit of this approach is that people with perhaps different perspectives on grid issues are able to start from one common point of understanding – something that will hopefully lead to better overall decision making.