SSE has promised to spend about £2bn on low-carbon energy projects over the next year and expand its renewable energy business overseas.
As the UK prepares to host the UN climate change conference in Glasgow, Cop26, in November, the energy company set out its plan for the next “pivotal year” for climate action alongside better-than-expected annual results, after limiting the financial toll of the coronavirus pandemic to £170m for the year.
SSE claimed no government financial help during the pandemic and managed to create 1,000 new jobs as it pushed ahead with plans to triple its renewable energy capacity by spending about £7.5bn on UK clean energy projects in the UK over the coming decade.
The company said it had already begun investing in the onshore construction of Dogger Bank, the world’s largest offshore windfarm, which is off England’s north-east coast, Seagreen, Scotland’s largest offshore windfarm, in the Firth of Forth, and Viking, a high-yielding windfarm in Shetland.
Alistair Phillips-Davies, SSE’s chief executive, said he wanted to “keep the momentum up” by investing £2bn over the next financial year to “ensure the economic recovery helps tackle the climate emergency, too”.
He said: “This is a pivotal year for the planet in our fight against climate change and as a principal partner of COP26, we are supporting the UK government’s efforts to drive more urgent and ambitious climate action.”
SSE is also eyeing “further opportunities overseas” to grow its renewables businesses in other countries. The company hopes to sell off its stake in the gas network business SGN by the end of this year.
Adjusted profit was £1.06bn before tax for the last year, in line with its adjusted pre-tax profit of £1.02bn the year before, after the profits from SSE’s renewable energy business climbed by almost 30%, to almost £732m, and helped to offset the impact of Covid-19.
In the first half of the financial year, the company reported a £115m hit to its operating profit as a result of the pandemic, causing its adjusted pre-tax profits to fall by 26% in the six months to the end of September, compared with the same months last year, to £194m.
A better second half for SSE helped its adjusted operating profit to nudge 1% higher than the year before, to £1.5bn.