SSE Energy Solutions has today announced the creation of a new business hub in Manchester to deliver innovative energy projects, skilled jobs, and training opportunities for local communities.
Greater Manchester is the first of several regional hubs the company plans to launch across the UK with the aim of creating jobs for local talent from diverse backgrounds in areas where SSE is delivering energy infrastructure.
SSE is already working closely with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and its Mayor, Andy Burnham, to help it achieve its target of being a net zero city by 2038. Critical to that mission is the speedy roll-out of EV charging infrastructure with several sites under consideration for the installation of flagship hubs.
SSE is also developing a ground source heating system for a large public facing venue in Manchester city centre as well as having recently installed a state-of-the-art Buildings Energy Management System at Bridgewater Hall, a major classical music venue and home to the Halle Orchestra. The system can be operated remotely by the Council.
The company has opened a new office in Manchester and is forging close relationships with local organisations and charities to diversify and upskill its workforce. Two new employees have been recruited as part of its work with the city’s Blair Project and the Manchester Innovations Activity Hub. SSE is also forging close relationships with the city’s Green Skills Academy, the Growth Company's centre for green technologies, and a number of higher education bodies through the GM Higher collaborative network.
A ‘Skills Summit’ is planned for later in the year to be hosted at Manchester Metropolitan University’s Fuel Cell Innovation Centre. Students, business leaders and local authority representatives will all be invited to attend.
In addition, SSE is a founding partner of Greater Manchester’s Energy Innovation Agency. The agency supports a cohort of around 40 individuals and companies working in areas such as smart building technology, energy efficiency, and EV charging infrastructure, to commercialise and deploy their innovations. It has also secured funding for two projects through Innovate UK - one with the University of Salford on future Net Zero homes and another focussing on creating a series of real-world demonstrators for low carbon innovations in the non-domestic building sector.
The regional strategy will see SSE focus on working with local contractors and suppliers where possible and further hubs will be launched soon in West Yorkshire, Liverpool, the West Midlands, and Sunderland.
SSE will spend around £10 million a day to deliver the low-carbon infrastructure that the UK needs for its net zero transition and has committed to £18 billion in clean energy investments by 2026/27. As part of its Green Jobs pledge, the company aims to generate an additional 1000 jobs every year until 2025.
Neil Kirkby is Managing Director of Enterprise at SSE Energy Solutions. He said: “We have forged a strong relationship with Mayor Andy Burnham and his authority in Manchester and we are working closely with his team on their ambitious decarbonisation agenda for the area.
“At SSE, we want to make a difference in each of these areas by ensuring we invest in the communities we work in. By creating regional hubs across the country and bringing green jobs to the areas where we are building energy infrastructure, we’re able to demonstrate our commitment to communities right across the UK.
“Through our new Social Value strategy, we aim to champion a fair and just energy transition. It's essential that we become a trusted partner of the community so together we can bring in local talent from a diverse range of backgrounds as part of that commitment. Our aim is to upskill managers, engineers, or apprentices and get them working on renewable energy and low carbon infrastructure projects that are close to home.”
Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “In Greater Manchester we’re serious about our target of reaching net zero carbon by 2038.
“As well as the clear environmental improvements we need to make, we must also seize the opportunities presented to us by the climate crisis. So, I’m really pleased to see more investments like this through SSE coming to Greater Manchester which will help us to unlock new, good quality green jobs whilst making our city-region a greener place for all.”
Amer Gaffar, at Manchester Metropolitan University, said: “I am really excited about working with SSE on multiple strands that focus on decarbonisation and skills which are of equal importance in the regional and global challenge of achieving Net Zero.
Supply chains in multiple sectors will need to come together to create new value as part of the energy transition. It’s not just about technology, there needs to be a clear focus on developing skills and people as part of a whole system approach.”
Daniel Dickinson, Development Lead for the Energy Innovation Agency, said: “The agency is effectively a vehicle to help steer policy development in Greater Manchester and we already have a strong relationship with Mayor Burnham and the Combined Authority. 2038 is not far off now and we need as many innovative solutions as we can get to keep on track, and crucially to deploy these solutions at scale across the region.
“Our relationship with SSE demonstrates how the public and private sector can work together and engage with local businesses and their communities and, ultimately, the whole of Greater Manchester.”
Joel Habteselassie, who along with Senthil Raman will start a summer placement with SSE today, said of the opportunity: “This is really exciting for me as a graduate engineer. From this experience I hope to learn everything about the green energy sector, from the research process all the way to production. As someone who is passionate about sustainability, I hope to gain enough knowledge to start developing my own ideas for producing greener energy.
“SSE’s plan to focus on local communities is great. This gives the people who live locally the ability to work within the energy sector without having to separate from their family or from their community.”
Senthil Raman added: “I was looking for a position with a company that supports underserved communities, which is a personal passion of mine. At SSE, there is a strong sense of community and inclusion isn't just a catchphrase; everyone feels supported and heard.
“Also, the company respects who you are, listens to your ideas, and helps you feel like a member of the team no matter where you are from or what background you have.”