Demonstrating environmental leadership in the transition to a low carbon economy

SSEN’s transmission business, Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission, has been awarded ‘leadership’ status by the energy regulator, Ofgem, for its environmental work to support the transition to a low carbon economy.

As part of the current transmission price control, RIIO-T1, transmission owners are incentivised to demonstrate a strategic environmental focus in helping facilitate growth in low carbon energy through the Environmental Discretionary Reward (EDR). 

In its decision letter for the 2017/18 EDR, Ofgem has confirmed SSEN achieved a leadership score in the following five categories: ‘whole system planning’, ‘connections’, ‘innovation’, ‘network development approach’, and ‘business greenhouse gases’; and obtained a proactive score in ‘strategic understanding’ and ‘direct environmental impact’, which has resulted in a financial award of £4m.

Commenting on the outcome of last year’s EDR, David Gardner, SSEN’s Director of Transmission, said:

“We are delighted our commitment to support the transition to a low carbon economy has been recognised by Ofgem and its independent panel as demonstrating leadership status in five of the seven categories. 

“Last year’s EDR award is testament to the hard work and commitment of all our teams and I’m thrilled our dedication has been recognised and rewarded in this way.

“In this calendar year alone, we have already provided connections supporting more than 1GW of renewable energy, with our network now supporting in excess of 6GW of clean, low carbon electricity generation.

“As a business at the forefront of the transition to a low carbon economy, operating in some of Scotland’s most precious rural landscapes, we are equally proud that our commitment to positively manage the impact of our activities on the local environment has been recognised in this year’s EDR.

“We will now look to build on this success, working hard to address the areas of improvement Ofgem has identified to help us realise our objective of achieving leadership status in all seven of the EDR assessment categories.”

SSEN’s strategic priority for the current transmission price control is to enable the transition to a low carbon economy through building the transmission infrastructure necessary to connect and transport renewable energy. 

Since the beginning of the RIIO-T1 price control the installed renewables capacity supported by SSEN’s transmission network has increased from 3.3GW to over 6GW today, almost doubling in just five years.  In the last year alone, SSEN successfully connected 449MW of low carbon generation, with more than 1000MW on track to be connected in the 2018/19 year.   

Looking further afield, SSEN is taking forward proposals to connect the three main Scottish island groups to its network which, subject to regulatory approval and developer commitment, would further realise Scotland’s vast renewable potential and support the island groups’ strong renewable ambitions.  Its innovative, alternative approach to help unlock Orkney’s renewable potential, coupled with general improvements in providing faster, more innovative low carbon connections with a lower environmental impact, has been positively recognised in this year’s EDR award.

Another factor which contributed to this year’s EDR award is the improvements that SSEN is making in its system planning and network development, designed to identify and implement the best whole system solutions for our customers and wider society.  

This includes SSEN’s North of Scotland Future Energy Scenarios work, which contains a scenario that would deliver a decarbonisation pathway for the north of Scotland in line with that required globally to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C, which is widely accepted by experts as critical in mitigating the impacts of global warming.  SSEN is also determined to play its part in minimising the impact of global warming, committing to set a science-based greenhouse gas emissions target.

As well as supporting the growth in low carbon energy, SSEN recognises the need to do this in a responsible way that protects and where possible enhances the local environment in which it operates.  The EDR award recognises SSEN’s commitment to support the local environment, including its award-winning work in habitats and biodiversity.

A blog from SSEN’s Networks Insight Manager, Christianna Logan, explaining more about the EDR award can be found here.