SSEN to speed up net-zero transition with £4.1bn plan

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) is set to improve its customer services and accelerate the transition to net-zero by implementing its £4.1 billion ($5.6 billion) business plan.

The RIIO-ED2 business plan will help SSEN to expand its renewable energy portfolio and prepare the grid for anticipated growth in energy demand due to increases in new services such as electric vehicles (EVs). For instance, EVs are expected to increase from the current 30,000 today to 5 million by 2050 whilst 2.5 million new heat pumps are expected to be installed during the same period, developments that will increase energy demand by a huge margin.

SSEN aims to achieve six goals by 2028 by implementing its business plan:

  • Reduce the frequency and duration of unplanned power interruptions by 20%
  • Create a foundation for net zero by investing £1bn in strategic resilience across its networks
  • Achieve a customer satisfaction score of 9.2 or more (out of 10) in every customer contact area
  • Support 200,000 customers in vulnerable situations with targeted fuel poverty, personal resilience or energy efficiency measures
  • Facilitate the connection of an additional 1.3 million electric vehicles and 800,000 heat pumps
  • Reduce its business carbon footprint by at least 35%, aligned to a 1.5°C science-based target.

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Improvement to customer services is expected to be achieved through £400 million ($547 million) of investments to be made in digital technologies and customer-centred projects. Up to £2.2 billion ($3 billion) will be directed towards grid resilience and asset reliability projects. The projects will lay a foundation for net-zero demands whilst £1 billion ($1.3 billion) will be used to help communities to speed up their transition to net-zero. SSEN will expand the capacity of its network with an additional 2GW of flexible capacity.

The five-year plan was developed through three phases of engagement with stakeholders with the aim to keep consumer energy bills affordable and grid reliable and resilient to changing energy transition demands.

Chris Burchell, Managing Director, SSEN Distribution said: “The need to transform our energy system to address the climate emergency has never been clearer and it is critical that local electricity networks are an enabler rather than a constraint as we work toward a shared net-zero future.

“There will inevitably be a degree of uncertainty in the years ahead as energy policy and targets continue to accelerate, therefore it is essential that Ofgem supports us by providing an agile regulatory framework that helps deliver a network where customers can switch to EVs and other net-zero technologies with ease at a time they choose.”

The draft plan has been filed with Ofgem’s Independent RIIO-2 Challenge Group, awaiting refinement for final submission to Ofgem in December 2021.