The electricity infrastructure company said it invested almost four times (£1.7bn) as much as it made in profits in the first half of its financial year, according to its interim results.
By SSE’s own estimates, if the system investment required to meet 2030 targets had been delivered by 2022, around £30bn would have been saved in UK expenditure on gas this year, according to Alistair Phillips-Davies, SSE Chief Executive.
“We therefore know cheaper, cleaner and more secure energy is coming, it just needs to be built and SSE is building at pace,” he said.
SSE invested £1.1bn in the first half in building and operating offshore and onshore wind farms, upgrading transmission and distribution networks to support increased electricity demand, and carbon capture and hydrogen storage technologies.
It has approximately 40% of the UK’s onshore underground gas storage capacity, providing security of supply and flexibility in volatile market conditions after years of weaker returns.
Speaking at COP27, Catherine Raw, Managing Director of SSE Thermal, said, “We are running gas assets today, and the future of those is decarbonising them through carbon capture and storage (CCS), and potentially hydrogen. What’s fascinating about coming here is that CCS is seen as a significant solution, given how much the economies are based on gas.
“On the cost side, your assumption has to be ‘what are gas prices going forward?’, and I don’t think anyone is anticipating current prices will increase out into the next decade. But ultimately when you look at how you will fund CCS, and how you’ll make it economic, the key is more around the capital, and incentivising it, than it is around the operating.”
Technologically, she said it SSE was “very confident” in CCS. “SSE has been pursuing it for the last 20 years, it’s been the lack of government support as the reason we haven’t moved it. The key thing with power CCS is the ability to make it flexible and dispatchable, so how you reduce the residual emissions as you ramp up and down your power stations.”
She said this year’s crisis has shone a new light on energy supply, and the reality that countries “would pay anything to keep the lights on”.
“What’s interesting is when you look at technologies that can provide dispatchable power, particularly at scale, it then puts things like hydrogen and CCS in a different light as the flexibility and economic advantage to the system are so great.”