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SSE sees lower than planned renewables output in ‘turbulent trading period’

While renewables output fell, flexible thermal saw good financial performance. Image: SSE

While renewables output fell, flexible thermal saw good financial performance. Image: SSE

Electricity output from renewable sources in which SSE has an ownership interest was 1.4TWh - or 19% - below plan in the latter nine months of 2021.

This was largely due to the summer months having exceptionally low levels of wind and rain across the UK and Ireland. In total, the shortfall represents 13% of the annual forecast total output.

Onshore wind’s output, including constrained off output, was 2,791GWh, with this 79% of the planned output. Offshore wind was 1,099GWh (83%), while conventional hydro generation was 2,030GWh (84%).

However, this lower than planned output is being offset by good financial performance from SSE’s flexible thermal and hydro plant alongside SSE’s other businesses. As such, the company is upgrading its expectations for full year 2021/22 adjusted earnings per share to at least 90 pence from at least 83 pence.

The company also remains on track to report full year 2021/22 CAPEX in excess of £2 billion, with “good progress” being made on its £12.5 billion investment and capital expenditure plan.

This includes plans for SSE to deliver over a quarter of the UK’s 40GW of offshore wind by 2030 target and over 20% of the upcoming electricity networks investment in the UK, as well as to double the company's existing renewables net installed capacity to 8GW.

Indeed, in November financial close was reached on the Dogger Bank C wind farm, while construction continues at Dogger Bank A&B offshore wind farms as well as Viking onshore wind farm.

Gregor Alexander, SSE’s finance director, said: “The significant bolstering of SSE Renewables’ pipeline, the increased visibility we have over opportunities for greater growth in SSEN Transmission and the balance provided by SSE Thermal through a turbulent trading period have demonstrated yet again the value of SSE’s integrated business mix and its capacity for delivering sustainable shareholder returns over the long term."

SSE outlined how National Grid ESO’s latest Networks Options Assessment indicated the need for more than £5 billion of investment in electricity transmission infrastructure in the North of Scotland to maintain a pathway for net zero, with these investments and the need to accelerate reinforcements to unlock ScotWind starting “to provide a clear line of sight on and tangible progress towards SSE RAV growth forecasts”.

SSEN Transmission currently has a target range of gross RAV of £8-10 billion by 2031.

The company also pointed to its success with its joint venture partners Marubeni and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP) in the ScotWind leasing programme with the E1 East site, which has a potential capacity of at least 2.6GW / 1GW net.

This takes SSE’s current secured pipeline to around 11GW with further opportunities in development to grow this to the sustained 15GW target.

Other successful projects in ScotWind include floating wind projects from Falck Renewables, Shell New Energies, Vattenfall, DEME, ScottishPower Renewables, BayWa r.e. and Northland Power, and fixed wind projects from BP Alternative Energy Investments, DEME, Ocean Winds, Offshore Wind Power, Northland Power and ScottishPower Renewables.

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