SSE has published a Just Transition Strategy, outlining 20 guiding principles it has pledged to follow to ensure nobody is left behind in the Net Zero transition.
The strategy, which was published on 18 November, said that now the imperative for accelerated climate action has been secured through Net Zero legislative frameworks from the UK and Irish governments, attention has shifted to the social implications of the journey to Net Zero. It set out the principles it will follow to address these under five key themes: good green jobs; consumer fairness; building and operating new assets; respecting employees in high-carbon industries; and supporting communities.
When it comes to those in high-carbon jobs, SSE will aim to re-purpose thermal generators for a Net Zero world. It highlighted the UK’s Climate Change Committee’s outlining of an important role for gas generation with carbon capture and storage (CCS) and hydrogen to 2050, noting its existing fleet of generators are in locations of strategic industrial importance to the UK and Ireland. While SSE does not believe unabated gas generation has a long-term role, it does believe there are economic opportunities to provide flexible, decarbonised electricity through shared CO2 transport and storage infrastructure and hydrogen networks within industrial clusters.
The skills and knowledge of those currently working in its existing assets will be key as SSE looks to become a low-carbon thermal generator. It further pledged that it will establish and maintain trust with these employees, provide forward notice of change, and prioritise retraining and redeployment.
On supporting communities during the transition, SSE is pledging to form partnerships across sectors. It noted how it is involved in a number of cluster partnerships in the vicinity of its thermal sites, to help design the CO2 transport and storage and hydrogen networks to support carbon capture use and storage (CCUS) and hydrogen powered generation. Such infrastructure will allow SSE, along with other power generators, to construct decarbonised stations and facilitate wider decarbonisation of industry. In doing so, the industrial heritage and employment benefits of the regions can be both preserved and enhanced through a new low-carbon offering.
SSE further highlighted some of these principles in practice, noting that SSE Thermal – which believes strongly in the potential of pre- and post-combustion CCUS and hydrogen to decarbonise flexible thermal generation – is a member of a number of low-carbon cluster partnerships in Scotland and England. It highlighted a focus on the Humber, with two projects it is involved in applying for funding in the region: the Humber Cluster Plan and Zero Carbon Humber Partnership.
The Humber Cluster Plan involves working with partners to develop a comprehensive plan to illustrate how the region can achieve Net Zero carbon emissions by 2040. If successful, it will act as a roadmap for the large-scale decarbonisation of the Humber, prioritise near-term deliverable investments, and outline how CCUS and hydrogen infrastructure can be scaled up over time. Zero Carbon Humber, meanwhile, has seen SSE partner with leading organisations across the region on a £75mn bid to accelerate the development of commercial-scale CCUS and hydrogen infrastructure.