UPDATE 1-British power producer SSE warns of bigger shortfall in renewables output

(Adds details from statement, executive and analyst comment)

March 30 (Reuters) - British power producer and network operator SSE on Tuesday warned that its year-to-date renewables output was now around 9% below plan and forecast a hit of 180 million pounds($248 million) to its annual profit from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The London-listed company in February said the shortfall from renewable sources was about 5%, and previously expected a hit between 150 million pounds and 250 million pounds to its adjusted operating profit.

Lower wind generation has been hurting SSE, with Jefferies analysts pointing to lower hydro volumes as another cause for the latest shortfall in its renewables division. The business is critical as countries and firms seek to move to greener energy.

“It has been a uniquely challenging year for us all, but, thanks to strong operational performance and delivery against our net-zero strategy throughout 2020/21, we are on course to meet our financial objectives for the year,” Finance Director Gregor Alexander said.

SSE, which also reiterated its dividend plans, said that it had made progress with options to sell its entire stake in Scotia Gas Networks (SGN). The British company had in February appointed banks to explore options.

It will report annual results on May 26.

$1 = 0.7272 pounds Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber