SSE’s first big foray into offshore wind came at the expense of the Phillips-Davies family Christmas. It was 2007 and Alistair Phillips-Davies, then an executive director of the energy group, was in Canada and by coincidence staying at the same resort as his colleague Gregor Alexander. “We both spent the entire Christmas and new year on a family ski holiday trying to buy Airtricity, because we knew that was a pivotal point: we weren’t as big in renewables as we needed to be,” Phillips-Davies says. “We spent about eight days locked in a room, from five-thirty, six o’clock in the morning till about two, three o’clock in the afternoon.” The sacrifice paid off: SSE clinched the deal to buy the Irish renewables company and with it the rights to build its first offshore wind farm at Greater Gabbard, off Suffolk, then due to be the world’s largest. Fast forward 13 years and renewables are at the heart of the FTSE 100 group, which also owns power networks and gas plants. Phillips-Davies, SSE chief executive, and Alexander, now its finance director, are once more building what will be the world’s largest offshore wind farm but on an altogether different scale. Greater Gabbard used 3.6 megawatt turbines, each standing 130m tall, about 12 miles offshore. SSE’s latest project at Dogger Bank, more than 80 miles off the Yorkshire coast, will use 13 and 14 megawatt turbines up to 260m tall, so powerful that a single turbine spin can power a home for two days. The project should generate enough electricity for six million homes.
Times 20th March 2021 read more »