We recently spent some time with Phil Clements, SSE Energy Solutions, Director of Energy Infrastructure to learn his views on reaching net zero and the solutions of the future.

How long have you been working at SSE Energy Solutions and what the experience and your role been like for you ?

I joined 5 years ago after having spent 13 years in a regulated environment with another major energy company. Sincerely, while it was a difficult decision to change direction, I don’t regret it for one moment. It’s been a highly challenging experience, yet really energising and genuinely exciting when I consider exactly how we’ve been starting to shape a net zero future with our energy solutions here at SSE. I honestly feel like I’m working with some of the most talented people in the industry. If anyone can crack this, we can.

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

For me, these are threefold:

  1. Navigating changing governmental signals and politics, both of which carry a strong risk of stifling net zero investment. At SSE, we know our purpose and vision is authentic and humanely fundamental, therefore as ambassadors for our planet and the responsibility that our industry carries to protect it, we will need to maintain a strong voice of influence around doing the right thing.
  2. Establishing the relationships needed with suppliers, co-investors and clients that will secure the successful delivery of our common strategies. We can’t deliver this on our own, and I’m sure many other businesses can’t either, so we’ll need to all work hard to build the complementary relationships we all need.
  3. Establishing the capability we need to deliver net zero infrastructure in a timely yet safe manner. There is a high safety and wellbeing risk continually present as we try to move at pace with deploying new energy solutions, so it’s important we remain cognisant of the consequences of getting things wrong, and ensure we put in place the things we need to avoid that.
People examining data on computer monitor

As Director of Energy Infrastructure, how do you foresee the solutions of the future?

Smart, simple, and customer-focussed. We need to actively listen to our customers and stakeholders, make stretching but realistic commitments, and then deliver on our promises. We will need to really embrace digital solutions to make things simple for our customers and stakeholders and help overcome the complexity of the energy transition, and to ensure we establish the flexibility we need in our assets to deliver efficient, economic, low-carbon energy in amongst a lot of external constraints, such as limited grid capacity.

Engineers conducting a meter reading

Social Value plays a huge role here at SSE Energy Solutions, what are your thoughts on green jobs and colleague welfare?

I’m so proud to be working with people who are ensuring these areas remain at the heart of our strategy. Our regional approach is a fantastic way for us to support local economies in areas directly benefiting from the infrastructure we establish, and I’m excited about the opportunities that we can create for local people that otherwise may not have considered a career with us, while also ensuring we build much stronger diversity across our business. This can only be good for us. On welfare, we have a culture centred around caring for the safety and wellbeing of our employees and stakeholders as our highest priority, and I see every day how we leave and breathe this. Nothing is worth compromising either of these factors, and I know that belief is carried by every senior leader in our business. We do need to continue collectively talking to each other about how we’re doing given that modern life is hard, and we are all ultimately each other’s allies to help navigate it together.

How does a Whole System Thinking approach support your clients?

It enables the complexity to be removed from energy such that our customers can rely on us to just provide low carbon energy as a service, and not need to worry about all the different aspects of energy that make this up.