Generator-retailer SSE pressed its pedal heavily to the environmental metal today, committing £12.5 billion from identified resources by 2026, on the way to attaining a science-based Net Zero by 2030.
The firm presented its far-reaching Net Zero Acceleration Programme as its path to consolidate its claimed position as the UK’s ‘clean energy champion’.
Today’s plan substantiates its goals, the operator said, of delivering by itself more than a quarter of Britain’s 2030 target of 40 GW of offshore wind, and over a fifth of planned investment in UK power networks.
The £12.5 billion-by-2026 pledge boosts SSE’s previous capex plans by £ 1 billion each year. Investment in renewables will rise by two and a half times, in quest of 4 GW of new clean generation capacity, double today’s total for the operator.
The enlarged capex pot will be split on a rough ratio of 40% for renewables, 40 % for networks and the remaining 20% for other flexible generation and other customer businesses.
By mid-decade SSE aims for 10% year-on-year compound growth to £9bn in the underlying regulated asset value (RAV) of its networks. That sum will be net of an intended sale of 25% minority stakes in its transmission and distribution businesses.
SSE sees its 2026 goals as way points towards bigger targets for 2031. These include
- a five-fold increase in renewables output to 50 TWh each year
- sustaining a constant 15GW pipeline of renewable projects, with over 1GW added each year.
- yearly growth as high as 9% in electricity networks’ RAV, peaking between £11 and 13bn.
- meeting by 2030 a revised science-based carbon target rise of 1.5 degree C by end-of-century.
Company spokespeople confirmed ‘independent advice’ underpins the detail of today’s blueprint.
SSE chief executive Alistair Phillips-Davies said:
“We are constructing more offshore wind than anyone else in the world right now and expanding overseas, delivering the electricity networks needed for net zero and pioneering carbon capture, hydrogen and battery technologies to deliver system flexibility.
“Our Net Zero Acceleration Programme ….involves a substantial ramping up of investment – equivalent to nearly £7m each day in net zero infrastructure. It is backed up by clear delivery and funding”, he added.
“It builds on our existing strong platform for growth and highly desirable pipeline to create significant value for shareholders and wider society while further enhancing the long-term potential of the business”.
The group also reported strong half-year financials to September. Amid uniformly positive numbers, pre-tax profit rose 30% year on year to £ 174.2 million, earnings per share rose 44%, and net debt and ‘hybrid capital’ fell 9% to £ 9.6 billion.
LSE investors baulked at least initially at SSE’s ambitious investment programme. By mid-afternoon, its share price had retreated around 4.5%.