Leading a secure and stable transition to Net Zero

The UK has clarity in its legislation for a net zero economy in 2050 and Ireland has its Climate Action Plan for 2030.

However, what is not clear is the pathway that will be taken to get to net zero.

But when you start to break it down, there are some certainties.

We’ve published our Transition to Net Zero report as one part of SSE’s increasing effort to provide transparency about the risks and opportunities facing our business as economies decarbonise.

We know that in the period to 2030 there is clarity about how much carbon we need to reduce to be on a path consistent with net zero.

This allows us to make some informed predictions about the sorts of trials, pilots and innovations we will need to make the necessary progress on decarbonisation in the 2030s and beyond.

In the long term these technologies will be needed at scale to deliver this net zero ambition.

For SSE, our vision, business purpose and strategy has never been so clear.

We are here to be a leading energy provider in a low-carbon world, building a better world of energy for the future.

In all of this, it is no wonder that our investors, other finance providers and other stakeholders are asking companies like SSE for more information about business plans to decarbonise in addition to the impacts of climate-related risks and opportunities on the business.

The Transition to Net Zero report should provide some answers.

For us better quality engagement with our stakeholders, based on the best information and analysis allows us to participate in a better informed, mature debate about the careful judgements and trade-offs needed to be taken to deliver net zero.

In that context, there is a legitimate question to be answered: What role does gas have in the, short, medium and long term, in a way that is wholly consistent with our net-zero carbon ambition?

The answer to that question is analysed in this report.

The reality of the low carbon transition is that flexible and efficient gas-fired power stations will be essential to fill the gap as the UK and Ireland transition to net zero.

They’ll do this by replacing older high carbon power stations, which are coming to the end of their life, and providing an alternative to expensive nuclear. The way that gas operates will change too.

It will run for fewer hours through the 2020s; but when it does run it will play a more important role than ever in keeping the electricity grid stable while the amount of electricity from renewable sources increases.

Whilst providing that critical role of security and stability, gas generation itself has the potential to decarbonise through carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) technology and through the substitution of hydrogen for natural gas.

We will be guided by financial discipline and won’t develop further combined cycle gas turbine assets without a pathway to decarbonisation, which these technologies could provide.

Through demonstration of these technologies, and development of policy support, we can create the conditions to abate gas generation. Creating those conditions is a challenge, not just for energy companies like SSE, but for consumers, politicians, regulators and investors too.

About the author

Martin Pibworth Wholesale Director

Martin joined SSE in 1998 as an energy trader and undertook a series of commercial roles in the Company, becoming Managing Director, Energy Portfolio Management, and a member of SSE's then Management Board, in 2012. In 2014, he was appointed Managing Director, Wholesale, and a member of SSE's Group Executive Committee, taking on responsibility for SSE's electricity generation portfolio and associated capital investment programme. During this time, Martin has overseen the development of SSE's diverse and flexible generation portfolio including its growing renewable fleet. In 2017, he was appointed to the Board as Wholesale Director, where he also has responsibility for the supply of energy and related services to industrial and commercial customers and SSE's businesses in Ireland. Martin brings significant knowledge of energy markets and experience of commercial, technical and operational matters to the Board, and his innovative approach to strategy, in seeking opportunities to create future value, is also important to his role. Prior to 1998 Martin worked for Eastern Power and Energy Trading, and Total Gas Marketing.

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