Climate campaigners have said the announcement of £565 million in pre-tax profits in just six months by energy giant SSE showed that the current energy system was ‘only delivering for wealthy shareholders’.

SSE’s Peterhead power station has been Scotland’s single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions for the past 5 years, releasing over 1.35 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2022.

SSE and Norwegian fossil fuel giant Equinor have submitted a planning application to build a new gas burning power station at the Aberdeenshire site, in addition to the existing gas plant.

Fossil fuels are driving soaring energy bills and climate breakdown. Campaigners say that a new fossil fuel power station will tie people to the same volatile global gas markets for decades to come, making these twin crises worse.

SSE has admitted that these two plants could operate at the same time and that total emissions from the site would increase, resulting in a “major adverse” effect on Scottish climate efforts. The proposed new gas-fired power station would also operate past the 2045 date by which Scotland is to meet ‘net-zero’ climate emissions.

SSE made £2.18 billion in pre-tax profits in 2022, a near doubling of its £1.15billion profits in 2021. Profits in SSE Thermal, the arm responsible for the Peterhead development, has seen a 212% increase in profits since 2022. SSE credited this to the acquisition of three gas burning power stations in England.

Friends of the Earth Scotland climate campaigner Alex Lee (they) commented,

“SSE’s obscene profits are yet more evidence that our current energy system is only delivering for these giant companies and their wealthy shareholders. How can it be that the owners of Scotland’s single biggest polluter are making £3million a day while so many households are struggling to pay their bills? Our energy bill pain is SSE’s gain.

“The Scottish Government must reject SSE’s plan to build a new gas power station at Peterhead, which would only increase climate pollution and company profits. As the evidence of climate breakdown mounts up, building a new fossil gas plant would be exactly the wrong direction of travel. It will threaten Scotland’s ability to meet climate targets, undermine the transition to good green jobs and do nothing to reduce bills for households in Scotland.”

“Instead of encouraging big polluters, the Scottish Government should be investing in a fast and fair transition to renewable energy, with workers and communities’ needs at its heart. The climate emergency demands working climate solutions such as improved public transport, ensuring warm homes and renewable energy run in the public interest. “

Notes to Editors

SSE half year profit announcement https://www.sse.com/news-and-views/2023/11/sse-confirms-increase-to-capital-investment-plan-and-re-iterates-its-strong-growth-prospects/

Peterhead gas power station explainer https://foe.scot/peterhead-power-station-explained/

SSE admits new Peterhead plant will run at same time as old (March 2023) https://theferret.scot/new-peterhead-gas-plant-run-at-same-time-as-old/

SSE profits more than triple as UK energy prices soar (Nov 2022) https://www.theguardian.com/business/2022/nov/16/sse-profits-more-than-triple-as-uk-energy-prices-soar-windfall-tax

Scottish Government modelling estimated 860,000 homes in fuel poverty in October 2022 https://www.parliament.scot/chamber-and-committees/questions-and-answers/question?ref=S6W-14736

Friends of the Earth Scotland is:
* Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning organisation
* An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland
* Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 73 national member groups, and 5,000 local activist groups.