SCOTTISHPOWER grew first half profits by around 57 per cent in spite of the impact of the coronavirus.

The Spanish-owned energy giant achieved £872.2 million underlying profit in the six months to June 30 compared with £679.2m in the same period last year.

The company saw demand for the gas and electricity it sells to households and businesses fall during the period.

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However, the profits it makes in the retail business more than doubled.

The increase was largely due to a change made to the price cap which Ofgem introduced in January 2019. The change followed complaints by energy firms that the regulator had changed the basis of the estimates of suppliers’ costs used when setting the cap.

A spokesperson for ScottishPower said the previous year’s performance had been impacted by external factors which have now been rectified.

ScottishPower said retail customer numbers have remained flat through 2020 at 4.7million.

The profits of the liberalised business rose to £112.2m, from £49.2m. The retail arm accounted for the bulk of divisional profits.

ScottishPower increased the profits it makes from the generation of renewable energy to £329m, from £213m.

It said the increase in profits was largely due to the start of production from the giant East Anglia One windfarm off England. The company completed the work amid challenging conditions, as the lockdown and social distancing measures created complications.

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Chief executive Keith Anderson said: “Safely completing the final installation ... during the Covid lockdown has been a monumental feat of engineering know-how, innovation, and sheer determination. It’s a big milestone on the UK’s journey to decarbonise.”

Scottish Power said it is on track to spend around £1.3 billion this year across its renewables, networks and retail businesses, with around £0.5bn of that in Scotland. Investment totalled £1.8bn last year.

The company recently announced plans to invest around £150m in onshore windfarms in South Lanarkshire.

Its networks division grew first half profits to £431m from £417m. Mr Anderson warned last week that price controls proposed by Ofgem in respect of networks could stifle investment in Scotland.

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ScottishPower said it had advanced credit for 26,000 domestic customers with prepayment meters and facilitated more than 100,000 direct debit reductions or payment holidays for other domestic and business customers amid the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.

The volumes of electricity and gas sold to households fell by 11% and 8% respectively in the first half. Business power volumes fell by 19%.

The parent Iberdrola group made €4.91bn (£4.5bn) first half underlying profit, down 1.4% on the same period last year.