Climate activists have staged a protest at the Perth headquarters of SSE, as the company announced £2.4 billion in profits for 2023/24 financial year.

Energy bills remain staggeringly high as millions of families battle fuel poverty and struggle to pay their bills.

Activists from the North Sea Knitters group held a ‘knit-in’ in the lobby of the SSE office, following similar protests at Equinor, Ithaca and the North Sea Transition Authority in Aberdeen. The knitting grannies handed in a letter to SSE officials detailing their concerns about the company’s fossil fuel expansion plans.

Photos from the protest will be available in this folder

Campaigners highlighted that SSE owns 14 fossil fuel power stations and make up the majority of SSE’s energy generation. Around one third (£800million) of the company’s annual profits came from the SSE Thermal division which is fossil fuel power generation, incinerators and gas storage.

Alex Lee (they/them), Climate Campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said:

“As SSE release outrageous profits figures, it’s important to remember that a huge chunk of this money is coming from burning fossil fuels, and the company has no intention to wind down this part of their operations. SSE are planning to build a second gas burning power plant in Peterhead which will worsen climate pollution and lock us all into reliance on expensive gas for decades to come.

“Homegrown renewable energy is already cheaper to produce than electricity from burning gas, and trying to add unreliable carbon capture and storage to that gas will increase bills for households. SSE is trying to pull the wool over the public’s eyes by claiming that carbon capture can be a serious part of out energy future, but their greenwash is beginning to unravel. People can see through the fossil fuel industry’s lies about CCS, and they will not stand for their futures being gambled on a technology that has failed everywhere it has been tried.

“SSE urgently needs to rethink its climate-wrecking business model and urgently transition away from burning fossil fuels for energy. The Scottish Government should use its power and wholly reject SSE’s plans for the new power station and instead focus on the solutions we know will improve lives, such as renewables, public transport, and retrofitting homes.”

Fossil fuel expansion plans at Peterhead

Burning fossil fuels is the primary driver of climate breakdown yet the company has applied to build an additional gas power station at Peterhead. The Aberdeenshire site is Scotland’s single biggest source of climate pollution and SSE has admitted the new station could significantly increase emissions.

The new power plant would commit Scottish households to paying energy bills determined by the volatile and internationally set price of gas, when renewables are already far cheaper.

SSE are claiming that the project will include capture carbon technology which will operate at rates never previously achieved anywhere on earth before. The carbon capture and storage technology will theoretically link to the struggling Acorn project at nearby St Fergus. The Acorn project is not operational, not even in the planning system and appears totally reliant on public money to make any progress.

Mary O’Brien, one of the knitters who occupied the lobby of the offices, said:

“Knitting symbolises the traditions passed down from one generation to the next, and for me, it is an act of love. When a new life is announced in the family, like generations of women before me, I take out my needles and start to knit a shawl. This is one way I show my love for my grandchildren and my desire to keep them safe from harm.

“But how as parents and grandparents, should we respond when those we love deeply are threatened by the escalating climate emergency? Knitting a shawl is clearly not enough, so I take out my needles and knit as a protest. Knitting is a peaceful, non-threatening act, but by sitting knitting I am making myself comfortable and showing that I have no intention of leaving until I am ready, and this also makes it powerful.

“The North Sea Knitters have united with hundreds of women across Europe to knit a red line 1.5cm wide to symbolise the “red line” of 1.5 C temperature rise which must not be breached to avoid catastrophic climate breakdown. To “hold the red line” we need to avoid all new fossil fuel development, including the proposed gas plant in Peterhead. Our responsibilities as parents and grandparents above all else is to pass on, not just our traditions, but a liveable planet in which future generations can thrive.”

Notes to Editors

SSE profits announcement https://www.sse.com/news-and-views/2024/05/sse-announces-full-year-2023-24-financial-results/

SSE energy generation mix is 60% non-renewable sources

Carbon Capture has received $20billion of public money but 79% of carbon captured has gone to extract more fossil fuels. Oil Change International research:

About the Peterhead gas burning power station

SSE and Equinor have submitted a planning application for a new gas burning power station with carbon capture plant at Peterhead, Aberdeenshire. The application is for an additional plant alongside the existing Peterhead gas burning power station, which is already Scotland’s single biggest polluters.

The development poses a significant risk to Scotland’s legally enshrined climate and emission reduction targets and to a just transition for workers and communities. The Scottish Government will make the decision whether to approve this project and lock households into reliance on fossil fuels for energy for the next 25 years.

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.