Energy infrastructure giant signs agreement with the WMCA

Energy infrastructure giant SSE Energy Solutions and the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) have signed an agreement that will see them work together on new clean energy projects across the region.

The Memorandum of Understanding was announced by Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA chair, at the Energy Capital Conference in Coventry last week.

This private and public sector collaboration is the WMCA’s first with an energy company. It will support the WMCA, and its local authority partners, as they explore region-wide opportunities to bolster energy security and support the #WM2041 net zero commitment.

The agreement builds on the new partnership between Coventry City Council and E.ON to deliver energy projects across the city such as solar energy for public buildings, a push to electrify transport with greater access to electric vehicle charge points for residents and improving energy efficiency in homes and businesses.

The Mayor said: “Reaching our net zero goals is mission critical. And to successfully achieve it was always going to rely on the public and the private sector working together.

“So the agreement that we’re announcing with SSE, along with the appointment of E.ON as Coventry City Council’s strategic energy partner, is a significant moment – it sends out a clear message that the West Midlands is ready to collaborate with partners who can bring an array of experience, investment and insights.

“Energy Capital was set up to provide the strategic vision and leadership on the energy infrastructure requirements for the whole of our region. This MOU is a fantastic opportunity to collaborate with one of the UK’s major energy companies to support the delivery of the infrastructure we need to reach our net zero vision and improve energy security over the months and years ahead.”

The WMCA has ambitious plans for the region to reach net zero by 2041 while also supporting economic growth and a fair and just transition.

The Regional Energy Strategy – led by Energy Capital – explores how making the energy system more efficient and effective can help deliver those ambitions by ensuring that investment is properly directed to the places and communities served by that infrastructure.

The West Midlands’ devolution deal, agreed with Government in March, also recognises the potential for the region to deliver net zero goals at a faster rate if it has the right responsibilities, powers and controls over funding.

SSE is already working on delivering a number of green energy projects in the West Midlands and is creating a business hub in the region as part of its own energy strategy.

Planned projects by SSE include the UK’s first HGV electric vehicle (EV) refuelling hub, a number of public ultra-rapid EV charging hubs and the design of a Future Energy System in East Birmingham. There are also plans for the creation of modern heat networks, large solar arrays and the installation of energy storage facilities.

Neil Kirkby, managing director at SSE Energy Solutions, said: “At SSE we want to become the leading net zero infrastructure advisor to local government and local businesses and this MOU with the West Midlands Combined Authority is another example of our ambitions in this area.

“We believe strongly in a just and fair transition to net zero and our new Social Value strategy will drive that forward. Decarbonising the country presents opportunities to support communities with regeneration, economic investment, and the creation of sustainable, long-term jobs.”