RE output helps SSE profits

UK utility SSE saw its annual profits boosted by higher production from renewables, as it flagged the prospect of lengthy negotiations over support arrangements if Scotland votes for independence.

SSE said operating profits at its wholesale division rose 10.1% to £496.1m ($838.2m) in the year to March, “largely reflecting increased output of energy from renewable sources”.

The utility’s 2.78GW renewables portfolio – including 940MW of onshore wind and 355MW offshore – delivered 9.4TWh to the UK’s grid last year, up from 7.6TWh in 2012.

SSE told investors: “As SSE moves forward the next phase of its renewable energy development pipeline, it is focusing on projects that best allow the efficient allocation of resources and economies of scale.

“While the scale of overall development is likely to be lower than in recent years, the focus is on a consistent pipeline of new developments.”

The utility said it will continue with “selective disposals” to recycle capital for future investment.

Scotland-based SSE also flagged to investors the prospect of the need to renegotiate renewables support arrangements if the country votes for independence from the UK in September’s referendum, resulting in a fundamental change to the national energy market.

It said that process “would be likely to take time, be complex and result in changes to the existing energy market.

“In particular, the future remuneration of renewable energy, which is currently supported by electricity customers throughout Great Britain, would have to be agreed.”

SSE earlier this year announced a big downscaling of its ambitions in the offshore wind market.

Today it confirmed that it is still working to get the best value for its stake in the 340MW Galloper offshore wind farm, its joint venture with RWE, after deciding not to take the project forward.

SSE confirmed that the awarding of a UK government contract-for-difference means it will stick with the 664MW Beatrice project for now – but will only make a positive investment decision if it can reduce its stake from its current 50% to no more than a half-share.