Let’s power change together11 Oct 2021
Recently in Belfast I met with the three most senior political representatives on the island of Ireland, at ‘Let’s Power Change Together’, an event hosted by Northern Ireland Chamber and Chambers Ireland, that SSE was delighted to sponsor this unique gathering.
I had the opportunity to speak at the event. I spoke of the challenge of climate change, being now more urgent than ever. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on climate change published in August was sobering and challenging but it also offered hope. There is still time and opportunity to limit the worst impacts of climate change – but only if there are immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
This need for urgency is why SSE became a principal partner of COP26 last November. A successful COP26 will bring together the policy, capital and technology to ensure the accelerated delivery of climate action measures. We at SSE are excited to play our part, by providing expertise, commitment and action through the delivery of greener energy. And we’re getting on with it.
So, what does getting on with it mean? Well at SSE we are building more offshore wind than anyone else in the world; that includes constructing the largest offshore wind farm on the planet at Dogger Bank; constructing the deepest offshore wind farm in Europe at Seagreen; and developing the largest offshore wind development anywhere in the world at Berwick Bank. The island of Ireland in particular, has an enviable offshore wind resource that could make a material contribution to decarbonisation here.
Public policy is signalling the right direction of travel with the Taoiseach and his Government targeting 80% renewable electricity in this week’s National Development Plan which includes 5 GW offshore wind by 2030. SSE stands ready to deliver via the Arklow Bank Phase 2 Project and we are exhilarated by the prospect of doing so. However, the project does require decisive government action to enable its early delivery including consenting, grid and route to market solutions. With these interventions we could have the project delivered by 2025.
"This need for urgency is why SSE became a principal partner of COP26 last November. A successful COP26 will bring together the policy, capital and technology to ensure the accelerated delivery of climate action measures. We at SSE are excited to play our part, by providing expertise, commitment and action through the delivery of greener energy. And we’re getting on with it."Martin Pibworth
In Northern Ireland, we’re looking forward to seeing the Executive’s new Energy Strategy targeting at least 70% renewable electricity supply by 2030 which will set us on a similarly ambitious course for decarbonisation. Investment from companies such as SSE can accelerate the green recovery but they will require Government support. SSE are ready to play our part by providing our technical expertise and multi-billion pound investment in renewable projects.
Across the UK and Ireland we’re also investing in the Network upgrades needed to support the significant increase in renewable production and to manage the changing demand patterns from electric cars and heat pumps. We are finding clean solutions for when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine by pioneering new carbon capture and hydrogen technologies. We are also ensuring our customers have the access they need to low carbon energy solutions from clean energy supply to building retrofits to tech solutions such as solar. We are doing all these things because there is no single answer. The solution will ultimately be the collective contribution of all of these different innovations.
Over recent weeks the energy sector has attracted much media commentary due to the sudden spike in gas prices. Times like these are concerning both for us and for our customers. However, it does further emphasise the need to insulate society and the markets from the volatility of fossil fuel commodity prices. Development of renewables is an economically cost-efficient way to achieve this for the long-term. The prize will be a sustainable energy system that increases the attractiveness of Ireland and Northern Ireland to international investment. Inaction, on the other hand, risks us getting left behind. We are one month away from COP26.
There are many hard questions to answer and we know the road ahead is bumpy. But we do know two things – firstly science tells us we can still mitigate the worst effect of climate change. Secondly, there are solutions ready today, like the Arklow Bank offshore project. We need decisive action now with the private sector and government policy fully aligned.