Profits from SSE's renewables division edged higher last year as the volume of energy produced by its wind and hydro assets increased by 7 per cent on the previous year's depressed figures, yet this was still 13% behind the levels expected due to less favourable weather than the long-term average. 

Without the four-fold lift from its portfolio of gas-fired power stations, the Perth-based group's latest set of financial results would have looked considerably deflated against the figures released today. Even so, SSE is stepping up its pivot towards renewable energy with a 40% increase on previous clean energy investment proposals under its Net Zero Acceleration Programme (NZAP).

Alistair Phillips-Davies, chief executive of SSE, speaks of "profits with purpose" as the group attempts to tackle climate change, energy affordability, and the security of supplies. These are admirable objectives, but bold strategies are not without peril.

"The shift to renewables comes with a hefty dose of risk - they're not always reliable," observed Aarin Chiekrie, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

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"To some degree, it's at the mercy of mother nature. That reality hit home last year as unseasonably calm and dry weather left the group's renewable output lower than planned, meaning flexible gas-fired plants had to plug the energy shortfall."

That said, it is reasanably arguable that the group's dedication to renewable energy generation will pave the way to high-quality growth in the future. Investors for the moment appear swayed by this argument, with SSE's share price holding steady in afternoon trading even though the company has declared that it will effectively cut future dividend payments to help fund investment in its net zero plans.

SSE’s strategy also benefits from the fact that it is aligned with the UK government's stated ambitions to secure reliable sources of energy in the wake of the fall-out from Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

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This is perhaps why the company's hefty results statement made little mention of the Energy Generator's Levy that came into effect from January. While windfall taxes on what many deem to be excessive profits during the energy crisis have led to industry warnings of cuts to much-needed investment, SSE simply noted that had set aside a bit more than £43 million in the first three months of this year to cover its EGL liabilities.

All in all, SSE appears to be in a good place, but there will no doubt be further hurdles to overcome in the months ahead.