Scottish & Southern moves into cleaner coal to take on rivals

Scottish & Southern Energy, Britain's third-biggest energy supplier, is expanding into cleaner coal and also launching a new gas boiler installation and maintenance service today to take on its bigger rival Centrica, the owner of British Gas. The company also reiterated yesterday that it would freeze prices at current levels until at least the start of next year, after raising them last month.

SSE announced a new partnership with Mitsui Babcock, Siemens UK and UK Coal to build Britain's first cleaner coal plant, a 500-megawatt facility, at its Ferrybridge power station in Yorkshire. It has also acquired two new wind farm developments capable of generating nearly 100 megawatts of power, in recognition of the Government's goals of delivering sustainable energy supplies and reducing carbon emissions. The group already owns four onshore wind farms in Scotland and is awaiting approval on another five. Ian Marchant, the chief executive, said: "In the Prime Minister's words, we can expect another 'big push' on renewables."

The news came as the power supplier, created from the 1998 merger of Scottish Hydro-Electric and Southern Electric, reported a 19 per cent rise in underlying profits before tax to £858m in the year to March, boosted by acquisitions. It has won 600,000 customers from rivals which put up their prices repeatedly, taking the total number of customers to more than 6.7 million.

SSE has been raising its rates at a slower pace than rivals even though wholesale gas prices have rocketed. Its gas bills went up by 16.5 per cent and electricity by 9.4 per cent on 1 May but it has vowed not to increase prices again until next year. By contrast, ScottishPower and Centrica have warned customers of further price rises as energy costs spiral.

The new cleaner coal plant would have a thermal efficiency of more than 45 per cent, compared with 36 per cent at conventional coal-fired power stations. It would save 500,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year compared with a conventional plant, and its capability of capturing and storing carbon would save another 1.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. Engineering studies for the plant are expected to be complete within the next year and the facility could be in operation from 2011/12.

Mr Marchant said the company was looking at the option of acquiring Thames Water from RWE, possibly as part of a consortium, but sought to downplay the idea. "It's a possibility but to say we're looking closely would be an overstatement," he said. He also indicated the company's interest in running nuclear power stations in the future.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Graduate Application Support Analyst

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Reach Volunteering: External Finance Trustee Needed!

Voluntary post, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Would you ...

Christine McCleave: FP&A Analyst

£36,000 - £40,000: Christine McCleave: Are you looking for a new opportunity a...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot