SSE has announced a £12.5 billion decarbonisation capital investment plan that will run through 2026, representing a 65 percent increase in expenditure on the low-carbon transition from current levels.
SSE plans to double its net installed renewable energy generating capacity to 8GW by 2026 and more than 16GW by 2030 with the funds.
The majority of this increase will come from offshore wind. SSE hopes to have at least 10 GW of offshore wind operational in the UK by the End of the decade, when the government hopes to have 40 GW of offshore wind power in the country.
SSE is collaborating with Equinor on the 3.6GW Dogger Bank wind farm off the coast of England, which will be the world’s largest offshore wind farm after all stages are completed.
In addition, the company revealed in the fall that it plans to unite two proposed offshore wind farms – Berwick Bank and Marr Bank – to produce enough sustainable energy to power all of Scotland’s households twice over.
Additional financing for battery energy storage, carbon capture and storage, green hydrogen generation, and strengthening electrical network infrastructure is also included in the budgetary plans, termed the “net-zero acceleration programme.”
In the case of hydrogen, SSE is collaborating with Equinor to build a 1.8 GW hydrogen power plant at the Humber Industrial Cluster. This project was revealed before the UK government released its Hydrogen Strategy, which has prompted some of SSE’s competitors to announce their own low-carbon hydrogen initiatives.
“Now is the time to execute on all of the pledges made at COP26,” SSE’s chief executive Alistair Phillips-Davies said. “Our Net Zero Acceleration Programme marks the next phase of SSE’s growth, and it entails a significant increase in investment – approximately £7 million per day in low-carbon infrastructure – backed up by clear delivery and finance commitments.”
“[This] announcement will maximize our long-term potential and capture growth prospects at a key moment for the energy industry, generating employment, delivering on government aspirations, and producing wealth for society and shareholders at a critical time for the energy sector.”
Vision for the future
SSE’s long-term ambitions include assisting the UK in developing 75GW of offshore wind projects and five CCS and hydrogen clusters by 2040, as well as achieving net-zero energy by 2050. These aspirations are backed up by science-based emission reduction strategies and a “Just Transition” policy that protects workers and communities affected by the energy transition.
The Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi), which is boosting its minimum target-setting standards to 1.5C, has confirmed that SSE’s present science-based targets are in line with a “well-below” 2C trajectory, therefore the company has committed to strengthening targets. Businesses have 18 months to obtain proof after the SBTi gets the promise.
On the subject of the just transition plan, SSE is said to be the first energy firm of its magnitude in the UK to publish such a plan. Centrica, a competitor, released a climate transition strategy last month that aims to increase the percentage of yearly investment in low-carbon solutions from 5% in 2021 to 50% by 2025.
Large corporations in high-emitting industries would be forced to produce net-zero transition plans by 2023, according to UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who spoke at COP26. To prevent greenwashing, the government has devised a science-based ‘gold-standard’ certification method for the proposals. This plan was developed in partnership with industry leaders, academics, regulators, and civil society organizations.
In related news, RWE said last month that it will invest €50 billion to double its renewable energy generating capacity to 50 GW by 2030.