Scotland business

SSE boss calls for more government backing of wind power

Wind farm Image copyright BOWL
Image caption SSE helped build the Beatrice offshore wind farm, off the coast of Wick

The chief executive of Scottish energy giant SSE has urged politicians to prioritise wind power in their plans to tackle climate change.

Alistair Philips-Davies said more green energy projects needed to be delivered to meet carbon targets.

He was speaking after the company published its half-year results.

They showed that SSE had turned a £285m pre-tax loss in the first six months of 2018 into a £129m profit in the first half of this year.

It was the firm's first results since selling its energy supply arm to Ovo, in a deal which is expected to be finalised next year.

SSE reported an adjusted operating profit on continuing operations of £491.9m, an increase of 14%.

The company, which is now a power generator and transmitter, will build Scotland's largest wind-farm at Seagreen, off the coast of Fife.

In September, SSE also won contracts to construct the UK's largest offshore wind farm to date, at Doggerbank off the east coast of England.

Mr Phillips-Davies said that offshore wind had proven to be "one of the most cost-effective ways" for the UK to cut carbon.

'More work needed'

He told the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme: "When the UK government committed to net zero in 2050, they increased their target by at least 25%.

"Therefore, for the next five to 10 years it is important that we increase our targets for offshore wind, from the 30GW that is targeted at the moment to something bigger.

"Equally, we will need to do more work on electrifying both transport and heat as part of that."

When asked whether the company was aiming to secure tax-payer subsidies, Mr Philips-Davies said that it should be an "important priority" for any incoming UK government to support major renewable energy projects.

He added: "If you look at the contracts that we've won, and bid for, the government can expect to receive significant sums of money for many years from those projects."

In September, SSE announced it was selling its retail business, SSE Energy Services, to Ovo Energy in a deal which would see 3.5 million gas and electricity customers automatically transfer from SSE to its rival.

The deal is being scrutinised by Competition and Markets Authority, amid fears it could reduce customers' options and increase prices.

Mr Philips-Davies defended the move as the "right step" for the company.

He continued: "Customers already have a huge choice in the market.

"There are already over 50 companies operating there so you can see, day in day out, there's lots of competition."

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