SSE announces €6.84bn investment

UK: SSE expects to invest around £6 billion (€6.84 billion) in the five years to March 2023, with the majority of this being in networks and renewables.

SSE's 32-turbine 108MW Bhlaraidh wind farm in the Scottish Highlands was connected to the grid in August 2017

It made the announcement alongside its preliminary results for 2018/19, which revealed its operating profit fell 28.9% year-on-year to £1.38 billion (€1.57 billion).

SSE’s profit from renewable generation, however, increased to £474.9 million from £391.6 million the previous year – up 21.1% year-on-year.

Both renewable capacity (from 3,309MW to 3,826MW) and generation (from 7,955GWh to 9,428GWh) increased last year, the utility stated.

The primary driver for this was an increase in onshore wind capacity as new projects came online, along with improved wind condition, SSE stated.

It commissioned seven new wind farms in the last year, all of which came in under budget, the utility claimed.

SSE also confirmed that it is working with joint venture partners Equinor (formerly Statoil) to ready the up-to 3.6GW Dogger Bank project for the next CfD auction, and with Fluor to prepare the 1,050MW first phase of the Seagreen wind farm for tender following lengthy court battles.

The utility also has an onshore wind pipeline of around 800MW including the 457MW Viking project, in which it has a 50% stake, on Shetland.

SSE noted that the UK government received State Aid clearance from the European Commission in February to enable wind farms on the remote islands of Scotland to compete in the next contracts for difference (CfD) auction.

The company said its five-year plan to 2022/23 is to create value "in a sustainable way", with networks and clean energy at the core of this strategy.

Accordingly, about 70% of the £6 billion forecast capex will be related to regulated electricity networks and renewable energy, it stated.

The company’s chairman Richard Gillingwater conceded SSE faces "a number of complex challenges", including plans to merge its household energy supply business with fellow utility and Innogy subsidiary Npower.