A new electricity transmission link between Orkney and the Scottish main land could be worth at least £371m to the local economy, according to a study.
This would rise to £807m if the wave and tidal energy industry makes use of the cable too.
For Scotland the figures are a minimum of £606m, rising to up to £1.48bn.
The independent report, put together GHD, also found that the three wind farms under ‘Orkney’s Community Wind Farm Project’ are vital in securing a cable for Orkney.
Ofgem has conditionally approved a Need Case for the new cable, requiring 135MW of new projects to trigger the 220MW cable.
With just 45MW of projects currently consented, the 86.4MW that could be generated by ‘Orkney’s Community Wind Farm Project’ would make an essential contribution towards meeting this target.
Ofgem recently extended the deadline for the Needs Case conditions to be met by a year to December 2022, in light of delays experienced as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The report also draws attention to the fact that the Council projects could provide close to four times more benefit to the economy than privately owned developments.
When publicly-owned the income would remain in the county.
Orkney’s Community Wind Farm Project encompasses three 28.8MW, six turbine, wind farm developments at Quanterness in St Ola, at Wee Fea in Hoy and on Faray in the North Isles.
Relatively few suitable sites remain in Orkney for commercial scale developments and the three sites were chosen following a “rigorous selection process, taking account of factors including proximity to homes and designated areas”.
The planning applications for Quanterness and Hoy are with the Scottish Government for determination and an application for Faray is due to be submitted early next month.
As well as generating significant income for the county, the projects could also provide an estimated annual payment of £144,000 per project into a ‘location-specific community benefit fund’, for local communities.
John Mundell, interim chief executive of Orkney Islands Council, said: “The findings of this independent economic report unequivocally demonstrate just how important a transmission link is to Orkney’s economic future, not only in bringing much-needed income to the county but also in retaining and securing high-value jobs – giving us great hope as we look to stabilise Orkney’s economy post-Covid.
“The report also shows just how important the Council’s own proposed projects are to securing the cable – without the Council’s projects, to be frank, the cable will not happen.