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SSE pledges £7bn for green recovery from coronavirus

The energy giant sold its supply arm last year, to focus on production.

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SSE will invest more than £3.5 billion in two new wind farms. (Peter Byrne/PA)

SSE will invest more than £3.5 billion in two new wind farms. (Peter Byrne/PA)

SSE will invest more than £3.5 billion in two new wind farms. (Peter Byrne/PA)

Energy giant SSE has pledged to pour £7 billion into helping the UK economy build back greener from the coronavirus crisis.

The electricity generator said it would start to cut emissions “further and faster” as it builds new wind farms.

Over the next five years, it aims to invest nearly £4 million a day on green projects, including a £580 million onshore wind farm in the Shetland Islands, and a £3 billion offshore site which promises to be the largest in Scotland.

The two farms will create around 800 new jobs and “thousands more in the supply chain”, SSE said.

The world is facing twin crises with the economic impact of coronavirus and the climate emergency and the only route forward is to unlock investmentAlistair Phillips-Davies

“It’s easy to talk about a green recovery, but we’re putting our money where our mouth is with £7 billion of low-carbon infrastructure projects that can deliver a win-win for climate and economy,” said chief executive Alistair Phillips-Davies.

“The investment plans we’ve set out today underline our intentions as a British business providing a boost to the economy and we want to work with Government to make the green recovery and delivery of net zero a reality.

“The world is facing twin crises with the economic impact of coronavirus and the climate emergency and the only route forward is to unlock investment.”

He said the company would reduce the carbon intensity of the energy it produces by 60% by 2030, compared with a previous target of 50%.

“Plenty of businesses talk a good game on climate action, but we’re serious. That’s why we will hold ourselves to account with new science-based emissions reduction targets, independently verified and underpinned by evidence,” Mr Phillips-Davies said.

The news came as SSE presented its first set of annual results since selling off its energy supply arm to Ovo late last year.

The company said that when adjusting for that disposal and other one-off changes, profit before tax increased by 49% to just over £1 billion.

Without the adjustments, it fell 55% to £588 million.

SSE said it would take a hit of between £150 million and £250 million from the coronavirus crisis.

Chairman Richard Gillingwater said: “Since March, SSE’s overriding priority has been to support the safe and reliable supply of the electricity upon which the people and organisations responding directly to coronavirus depend, and the commitment of people across SSE in challenging circumstances has been outstanding.

“It is still too soon to predict with accuracy the full human, social, economic and business impact of coronavirus, but we have put in place a comprehensive plan to achieve the related objectives of sustaining the dividend payments which provide vital income for people’s pensions and savings – income which is now more important than ever – and promoting the long-term success of SSE for the benefit of all its stakeholders.”

PA