The chief executive of British power firm SSE says a rapid build-out of renewable projects can help the U.K. to secure its energy security and bring costs down for consumers.
“Consumers everywhere across Europe have seen prices rise significantly,” SSE CEO Alistair Phillips-Davies told CNBC’s Arabile Gumede from the firm’s Viking Wind Farm in the Shetland Islands, Scotland.
“Across the U.K. and Ireland, markets that we really operate in, we’ve probably seen prices double over the last 18 months to two years, we can bring those costs down hugely by building more renewables, by getting the energy transition right in the sense of bringing energy home,” Phillips-Davies said.
“We don’t want to be importing oil and gas from far-flung places that we no longer want to deal with and where we no longer trust the regimes. Let’s get back to building our own infrastructure, relying on what we’ve got and making sure not only we get it a lot cheaper but also, we have got a lot more security of supply because we’re in control of it.”
Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in Feb. 2022 prompted a radical upheaval of Europe’s energy supplies. Moscow was formerly the region’s top supplier of oil and gas imports.
Many countries in Europe have since pledged to end or restrict oil and gas imports from Russia as part of a concerted bid to hamper Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s ability to finance the war in Ukraine.
U.K. Energy Security Secretary Grant Shapps reaffirmed the government’s plan to deliver greater energy independence last month, pledging to seek to power the country by switching to home-grown sources, including nuclear and renewables.
Asked whether the U.K. possessed enough wind energy to power at least most of the U.K., SSE’s Phillips-Davies replied, “I definitely think the U.K. has got a huge amount of natural resources. We’re up here in Shetlands now, the wind is blowing strongly, it is a very windy place all around the coast and shores as well.”
He added, “Although we’re here at a big onshore wind farm, what will be the most productive in the U.K., there are vast resources offshore as well. So, as we build more and more of that, I think we can drive closer and closer to that energy self-sufficiency — as long as we have enough storage and flexible backup for when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining.”