Noel Powell, Head of Business Development; Regeneration and Development, spoke with us about his thoughts on decarbonisation, major projects, challenges and how Whole System Thinking supports your journey to net zero.

How long have you been working at SSE Energy Solutions and what have your experiences been like so far?

I will have been working at SSE for 16 years in January, with the last 10 in our Distributed Energy business. It has been amazing journey, and to play a pivotal role through a period significant change and growth in our business during that time, I feel very privileged. As a time served electrical engineer, spending the first 11 years of my career in the FMCG, Semiconductor, and Automotive industries; if you had asked a 25 year old Noel Powell would he see himself in a role like this, I would likely have laughed. However, you could say I found my calling and with a background in engineering, its enabled me to be very successful in my career at SSE, helping clients from both a technical and commercial perspective, while also allowing for personal development in an area of great interest. What's interesting in my role, is that every day is a learning day in the world of energy. The energy landscape has changed immensely over the past years and decade, and will no doubt continue to change. No two days or two projects are the same and I enjoy every minute of every day. I am very lucky to work in a great business, with so many fantastic people, and on so many interesting projects. I am incredibly grateful to have a fantastic team and colleagues in the business with the same mindset of wanting to 'make a difference' in reaching the journey to net zero.

I am incredibly grateful to have a fantastic team and colleagues in the business with the same mindset of wanting to 'make a difference' in reaching the journey to net zero.

What key challenges do you think businesses have when trying to decarbonise or reach net zero?

I think this comes in a number of different guises, not limited to; technical, financial, economic, political, and social, but at SSE we are helping face those challenges head on through our £40bn NZAP+ programme. I think it's important to recognise that we all have an important role to play not only in business but also our personal lives. In my sector, for example, whereby we are supporting developers with 'new build' developments across the UK, we are seeing the requirements for grid connected power becoming more demanding. This is particularly prevalent in the Data Centre sector where need for data is increasing on a daily basis - we already live in a data driven world and with advances in AI, this will become greater; in the Logistics sector we are seeing greater demand for power based on automation and electrification of transport; and in the mixed-use sector, the shift toward electrified heat is have a greater demand on power. In many cases, we are faced with constraints on the grid so an optimised balance of grid connected power, renewable green energy, and energy storage is key to ensuring we will achieve net zero.

The Regeneration and Development team work with Developers, Investors, and their wider stakeholders to invest in, build, and operate energy infrastructure for 'new build' developments in industrial, commercial and mixed-use markets.

Can you tell us a little more about how the regeneration and development markets benefit from the support of SSE?

The Regeneration and Development team work with Developers, Investors, and their wider stakeholders to invest in, build, and operate energy infrastructure for 'new build' developments in industrial, commercial and mixed-use markets. Through a partnership approach, not a transactional one, we build long term, sustainable relationships with our clients - listening to their requirements and meeting their needs. Our solutions help not only to reduce the capital cost for construction but also to achieve the sustainability requirements of the project. Our team take a holistic view of the energy system at a very early stage of the project as there is never a one size fits all solution. With decades of experience, our subject matter experts and solution architects within the business develop a fully integrated and optimised energy system which can include, not limited to; grid connected power that is adopted by SSE’s IDNO or Private Network business, on-site and off-site generation and storage, EV charging infrastructure, heat and cooling, and smart building solutions. Furthermore, in addition to delivering innovative energy projects, we are committed to creating skilled jobs, and training opportunities for local communities, which is often aligned with our clients commitments. We have launched several regional hubs across the UK, with the company planning more - the aim is to create jobs for local talent from diverse backgrounds in areas where SSE is delivering energy infrastructure.

Tell us about a project that you've worked on incorporating decarbonisation as its focus.

Our team are working on some of the largest and most significant regeneration projects the UK has seen in a generation, so to choose one would be difficult. We also have, in development, a number of projects that will be a UK first, so these are very exciting times. Our client's sustainability objectives are now core, so when designing an energy system that meets those requirements, our solutions are key. For example, we are currently developing an energy system for a significant 6.7m sq. ft commercial development in the Oxford area. The project will be connected to a resilient grid supply point via primary infrastructure with a demand capacity of 50MVA. However, in supporting the sustainability characteristics of the development, we are looking to incorporate onsite generation - maximising the roof space with solar PV, collocated energy storage, and EV charging infrastructure; all of which will be fully optimised across all buildings on a 'smart network' using digital services to control and optimise deployment and management of the energy.

SSE's unique Whole System approach enables us to develop an energy system that is fit for the future, while offering new and innovative ways to deliver, manage and invest in energy infrastructure.

How does a Whole System Thinking approach support your clients?

We understand the challenges that developers face when building essential energy-related services and solutions into their construction projects. SSE's unique Whole System approach enables us to develop an energy system that is fit for the future, while offering new and innovative ways to deliver, manage and invest in energy infrastructure. We are in a unique position to deliver these energy systems, drawing on our expertise to create solutions tailored specifically to the clients and project needs. The energy landscape is becoming more complex and we are playing a major part in the emergence of a user-led energy system - Decarbonising Power, Heat, and Transport.