Green energy giant SSE to reveal plans to step up growth

Scottish energy giant SSE will next week reveal its plans to accelerate growth amid speculation it could announce a break-up of the company to raise cash to fund new investments.

Offshore wind is one of the markets where SSE is looking to increase its investments in the years ahead.
Offshore wind is one of the markets where SSE is looking to increase its investments in the years ahead.

The Perth-headquartered group has made a flurry of major announcements in recent months including expansion into the Japanese offshore wind market and the sale of its stake in gas distribution operator Scotia Gas Networks for £1.22 billion.

The deals have been part of a reshaping of the group to focus on its interests in renewables and regulated electricity networks.

Alongside half-year results this week, the company will provide a strategic update to reveal its plans to further accelerate growth, including stepping up its investment and how it will fund that.

There has been speculation that the group could announce a break-up of the company which would see a separation of its wholesale energy business from its renewables arm. Listing the renewables business on a stock exchange separately would allow it to raise money from investors to put into developments and would help SSE reach its goal to triple renewable output by 2030.

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The potential split has been championed by Elliott Management, one of the world's most influential activist investors but in September SSE stressed it had taken "no decision" to break up the company.

"Following recent reshaping of the group, SSE's clear strategic focus is on renewables and regulated electricity networks, supported by carefully chosen businesses,” it said in a statement.

“The board remains fully focused on strategic choices which will drive shareholder value from the wealth of net zero opportunities the company is creating.”

SSE will also update on generation performance amid continuing low wind speeds in the UK.

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It has already flagged that output fell 32 per cent in the period to 22 September, leading to an 11 per cent shortfall on forecast total output for the full year.

However, it said the resilience of its business mix meant the group remained confident about delivery of a solid financial performance for the full year.

In September SSE’s renewables arm signed an agreement with Pacifico Energy to create a joint ownership company that will pursue offshore wind projects in Japan.

The creation of the joint ownership company involves the acquisition by SSE Renewables of an 80 per cent interest in an offshore wind development platform from Pacifico Energy.

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SSE said the move to enter Japan’s growing offshore wind market will help support the further expansion and diversification of its longer-term growth pipeline.

The deal will see the acquisition of a number of early-stage offshore wind development projects geographically spread across Japanese waters, with the potential to progress to deliver up to 10GW.

SSE said the early-stage projects are expected to use a mixture of fixed and floating technology and are working towards being selected for future auctions in the mid-2020s.

At the time the tie-up was announced, Laura Hoy, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said it represented “an important step to build out the renewables business”.

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“It suggests the group is increasingly focused on a future as a global renewables giant rather than a UK utility operator,” she said.

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