Electricity distribution network expansion key to support housing growth

The electricity distribution network must be expanded to support housing growth, as well as the delivery of net zero, the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has said.

Building on issues identified in its 2018 National Infrastructure Assessment, the Commission outlined the challenges facing effective deployment of economic infrastructure, such as electricity, water and broadband, which, in turn, impacts efficient delivery of new housing. The government has a target of 1mn homes being built over the next five years, with “timely and necessary” expansion of the electricity distribution network just one course of action that must be taken.

The UK economy moving towards net zero by 2050 will place increasing demands on the way infrastructure is used. This will be especially true for electricity. How investment is made to increase capacity of the electricity network, as well as who pays for it, was cited as one of the biggest frustrations heard from housing developers, according to the NIC. It was also referenced by businesses and electricity generators looking to connect to the distribution network. These existing issues could be exacerbated by the net zero transition.

Moving forwards, the Commission is planning to take forward further work assessing the capacity constraints on the existing network and the actions that may be needed in the future. It explained this will look more extensively at the impacts to other groups of customers and feed in to Ofgem’s ongoing consideration of how to adapt its regulatory framework to allow for investments that ensure services continue to be fit for purpose as the UK economy approaches net zero emissions by 2050.