Huge Scottish wind farms to power a million homes form part of £7bn SSE investment

Perth-based energy giant SSE has pledged an £7 billion investment to “spur the green economic recovery” including the construction of the UK’s biggest onshore wind farm.

Perth-headquartered SSE is a major producer of green power.
Perth-headquartered SSE is a major producer of green power.

The commitment came as the FTSE-100 company released full-year results showing a double-digit hike in adjusted operating profits and a continued shareholder dividend payout.

Its plans will see the group invest almost £4 million-a-day for the next five years on projects including two major new wind farms – generating sufficient electricity to power more than one million homes.

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SSE confirmed plans to build the £580m Viking onshore wind farm on Shetland, which would be the UK’s biggest onshore facility, and the £3bn Seagreen offshore wind farm, alongside French giant Total.

Together, those projects are expected to create some 800 jobs and support thousands more in the supply chain.

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In England, SSE said it was continuing to move ahead with plans to build the world’s largest offshore wind farm, off the coast of Yorkshire. That would generate more than 1,000 construction jobs at its peak.

Chief executive Alistair Phillips-Davies said: “It’s easy to talk about a green recovery, but we’re putting our money where our mouth is with £7bn of low-carbon infrastructure projects that can deliver a win-win for climate and economy.

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“The investment plans we’ve set out underline our intentions as a British business providing a boost to the economy and we want to work with government to make the green recovery and delivery of net zero a reality.

“The world is facing twin crises with the economic impact of coronavirus and the climate emergency and the only route forward is to unlock investment. Plenty of businesses talk a good game on climate action, but we’re serious.”

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Adjusted operating profit rose 37 per cent to just under £1.5bn as the group, which has offloaded its energy supply business to focus on green power production, recovered from a “challenging” 2018/19. However, reported operating profit fell 40 per cent to £963.4m due to the impact of exceptional items.

A final dividend of 56p per share was declared, making a full-year payment of 80p – in line with a five-year plan on shareholder payouts.

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John Moore, senior investment manager at Brewin Dolphin, said: “SSE has committed to its progressive dividend policy, which will be a massive relief to many income investors in the current climate.

“Aside from that, it’s a mixed bag for the underlying business, with its generation assets picking up slack from regulated activities.

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“The investment in a major onshore wind project in Shetland is a significant move, as it helps grow the successful renewable energy division.

“However, in overall terms, the immediate trading picture appears more challenging and, although it appears to be in decent shape, SSE remains a business in transition.”

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