homenews and insights electricity networks missed net zero opportunity

How electricity networks could be your missed net zero opportunity

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By Michael Robertson
18 January 2022

Director - Distributed Energy

Meet our SSE Energy Solutions experts


There is no doubt that COP26 has thrown a spotlight on the ever-growing demand for sustainable energy. As a result, the energy industry is evolving and companies like mine face the challenge of ensuring that electricity networks are well placed to meet these new demands.

My part of SSE, distributed energy, offers organisations and people low carbon solutions that can help them unlock their own pathway to net zero. As the SSE Sector Director for Electricity and Gas I look after the connections we provide for a range of different clients – from data centres to our site at Slough Heat and Power.

Managing electricity infrastructure is core to what we do, and we find that many customers who own private electricity networks can find the management of this non-core activity a burden rather than a benefit. But this is a missed opportunity as effective management of electricity networks can lead to cutting both carbon and costs.

This is our area of expertise – we develop, build, adopt, and manage private electricity networks and take responsibility for the long-term network resilience and enhancement of energy efficiency and sustainability. Of course, with the introduction of the right technology and solutions, a private network can also shield consumers from the volatility of wholesale gas prices – a pressing issue for 2022.

We bring a fresh approach to the challenge of decarbonisation – by embracing the philosophy of ‘whole system thinking’ which means looking at the needs of a project in its entirety. That means we can work with site owners to truly maximise the effectiveness of their electricity network.

We have a lot of projects in delivery, as well as a pipeline of over 20 projects, which will help our clients with their net zero ambitions. One such example of the type of project we support with electrical power is in Coventry where the £700m new Friargate site will bring offices, hotels, homes, shops, and restaurants to the city.

Whole system thinking also means we can layer on additional services for clients such as EV infrastructure meaning that an electricity network is not just a means to an end – it’s a platform enabler. So, we want people to think about electricity networks as not just a solution to a problem but a catalyst for other decarbonisation innovation.

And as connection provider I’m pleased that we’re not standing still. SSE has an IDNO service which aims to deliver networks that are fit for the future and zero carbon ready.

The aim is to provide services across all sectors, sizes, and complexity up to 132kV, collaborating with all market participants to improve overall quality and cost, bringing whole system thinking into the design, adopt and operational process. The end game here is once again to enable sustainable technologies such as electric vehicle charging, heat pumps and embedded generation.

So, if you’re interested in fast tracking your pathway to net zero, we have the right solutions to enable your electricity network to play its part: distributedenergy@sse.com