A blog by Christianna Logan, Energy Networks Insights Manager

As a business at the forefront of the transition to a low carbon economy, operating in some of Scotland’s most precious rural landscapes, we are extremely proud of our role in, and commitment to, helping tackle climate change; with an equally strong commitment to positively manage the impact of our activities on the local environment in which we live and work. 

In our current transmission price control, RIIO-T1, we and the other two GB transmission owners are incentivised to demonstrate a strategic environmental focus in helping facilitate growth in low carbon energy through the Environmental Discretionary Reward (EDR).

Our regulator, Ofgem, has today announced its decision on last year’s EDR and we are delighted our efforts have been recognised as achieving ‘leadership status’ leading to the award of a £4m incentive.   This is a fantastic achievement for our business, demonstrating our clear commitment and focus on sustainability, with the award recognising the great work we are doing to support the growth of low carbon generation.

Our strategic priority for our current price control is to enable the transition to a low carbon economy and when you look back over the period since April 2013, the stats speak for themselves. 

The installed renewables capacity supported by our network has increased from 3.3GW to over 6GW today, almost doubling in just five years.  In the last year alone, we have successfully connected 449MW of low carbon generation, with more than 1000MW on track to be connected in the 2018/19 year.

Looking further afield, seen by some as the ‘final frontier’ in fully realising Scotland’s vast renewable potential, we have been developing proposals to connect the three Scottish island groups.  Subject to regulatory approval and develop commitment, these proposals would unlock the renewables ambitions of Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles. 

We are working hard with our low carbon energy customers on the three island groups to take forward our proposals, including innovative and alternative approaches to help overcome some of the barriers that have prevented progress over the past decade.  This, coupled with the general improvements we have made in providing faster, more innovative low carbon connections with a lower environmental impact, has been positively recognised in this year’s EDR award.

As the world’s leading climate scientists, the United Nations (UN) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), continue to warn that we are running out of time to mitigate the impact of global warming, there is increasing recognition to heed calls for global temperature increases to be kept to a maximum of 1.5°C. 

Whilst a global problem, local solutions can make a key contribution – that’s why we are keen to do our bit for climate change whilst sustainably supporting the communities in which we live and work.

Another factor which contributed to this year’s EDR award is the improvements that we are making in our system planning and network development, designed to ensure we identify the best whole system solutions for our customers and wider society.

As we plan and prepare for our future network requirements, through our North of Scotland Future Energy Scenarios, informed and influenced by our stakeholders we have set out a scenario to a largely decarbonised energy system which would deliver a decarbonisation pathway for the north of Scotland in line with that required globally to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C.

Whilst it is for others, from national, devolved and local governments, to our generation customers and ultimately energy consumers, to determine what the future holds, what is important from our perspective is understanding what the different scenarios look like and how we need to prepare accordingly to deliver to meet the needs and expectations of our customers and wider society.       

Our commitment to reducing our own greenhouse gas emissions has also been recognised and has been strengthened this year by our ongoing work to set a science-based target.

Finally, as well as supporting the growth in low carbon energy through providing the necessary critical network infrastructure to connect and transport energy, we do this in a responsible way that protects and where possible enhancing the local environment in which we operate.  We are therefore delighted the EDR award recognises our commitment to support the local environment, including award winning work in habitats and biodiversity.

To ensure we successfully achieve our sustainability goals and to further refine and develop our sustainability strategic drivers, we are currently developing a sustainability action plan that we will publish later this year.  As part of this, we will continue to work closely with our key stakeholders so that government policy, industry trends, global sustainable development goals and stakeholder expectations will continue to actively shape and inform our future sustainability ambitions, as they have done to this date. 

Building on the recent introduction of our stakeholder led Sustainability Strategy, we maintain a strong ambition to continue the good progress of recent years in enabling the transition to a low carbon economy, balanced against the need to ensure affordability for energy consumers. 

To read more about SSEN Transmission’s sustainability strategy and wider sustainability ambitions please visit: https://www.ssen-transmission.co.uk/sustainability-and-environment/

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