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SSE faces backlash over COP26 sponsorship and Peterhead Power Station role

© DC ThomsonSSE operates the Peterhead Power Station, one of Scotland's biggest polluters
SSE operates the Peterhead Power Station, one of Scotland's biggest polluters

SSE, operator of the Peterhead Power Station, is facing backlash from various climate groups after being announced as one of the first sponsors of the COP26 summit in Glasgow.

The firm, along with Nat West, National Grid and Scottish Power, has been unveiled as one of the first commercial partners to the major United Nations conference next November.

However climate groups have hit out at the COP26 organisers, highlighting SSE  as operator of the Peterhead Gas Power station, revealed earlier this year as the largest pollution site in Scotland.




In March, figures from SEPA showed the site emitted 1.9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2018, topping the list ahead of Petroineos Grangemouth and ExxonMobil’s Mossmorran plant.

SSE is also building an 850MW gas-fired power station – Keadby 2 – in North Lincolnshire.

Friends of the Earth Scotland said: “The choice of SSE is very surprising given that they operate Scotland’s single most polluting site at Peterhead gas power station, which belches out over one and half million tonnes of climate changing emissions each year.”

However, the firm has strong renewables credentials, constructing Seagreen – Scotland’s largest offshore windfarm – off the Angus coast, as well as Dogger Bank off Yorkshire, which will be one of the largest globally.

It is also behind Viking Energy, a major onshore wind site in Shetland.


An SSE spokesman pointed to the work on Dogger Bank, Seagreen and Viking Energy, as well as the firm’s target to cut the carbon intensity of its electricity production by 60%  by 2030.

He added: “Peterhead is the largest power station of its kind in Scotland, providing a critical service to the GB electricity system and has a role to play in providing flexible power to complement increasing levels of renewables on the journey to net zero.

“As the eyes of the world fall on Glasgow for COP26, we’re proud to partner with the UK Government to play our part in delivering a net zero future.”

According to the UK Committee on Climate Change, fossil fuels accounted for 69% of industrial energy use in 2018, while oil and gas will continue to play a role in UK demand to at least 2050 as the country shifts to cleaner fuels like hydrogen.

Domestic production, in the meantime, reduces the need for fuel to be shipped in from overseas, which would create further emissions.

The UK aims to have a decarbonised net zero economy by 2050.

In the Cop26 announcement, SSE chief executive Alastair Phillips-Davies said: “Strong leadership and international ambition will set the course, but it is businesses like SSE that will provide the solutions and infrastructure to decarbonise and deliver economic recovery for the long-term.”


Energy Secretary and COP26 president Alok Sharma said: “I am delighted to announce our first sponsors for COP26, who have all shown ambitious climate leadership through setting net zero commitments and Science Based Targets.

“When it comes to climate action, we all have an important role to play. Only by continuing to come together can we build the zero carbon, climate resilient future that is essential for our people and our planet.”

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