Part of Grid Network »

The Transmission Professionals special interest group covers the distribution of power from generation to final destination. 

White Paper

Overcoming challenges for new network connections

image credit: Delta-EE iStock licence
Andy Bradley's picture
Partner LCP Delta

Andy is a Partner at LCP Delta. LCP Delta combines the expertise of LCP Energy and Delta-EE to provide a single partner across the whole energy value chain. Since joining Delta-EE in 2010, Andy...

  • Member since 2020
  • 36 items added with 29,466 views
  • Jun 10, 2021

Access White Paper

Obtaining electricity network connections for new housing developments is often constrained by the current regulatory investment methodology as well as by technical and other factors.  

This is being exacerbated by increasing electrical demands arising from the electrification of heat and mobility to meet decarbonisation targets. 

This can result in sub-optimal investment decisions focused primarily on short-term compliance workarounds, rather than lifetime performance on either environmental or economic grounds.  

Today, in order to justify any network investment which is to be included within a DNO’s regulatory asset base (RAB) there must be a demonstrable immediate need for network capacity. This means that, even if there is a clear future need for, say, an investment in a particular area adjacent to a site already under construction, unless an application is imminent, it is not permissible for the DNO to make anticipatory investments. This often results in sub-optimal network design (which is developed piecemeal rather than strategically) and results in long delays for new or upgraded connections. 

Such delays may result in a project representing too high an investment risk for a potential developer and will at least result in increased costs being passed on from the DNO to the developer. It may even result in certain sites which might otherwise represent good investment opportunities becoming unviable to the commercial loss of the developer, but also to the detriment of communities which need additional homes, or to the environment if potential renewable generation cannot be connected economically. 

Potential solutions in this area have been discussed over many years.  However, the increasing urgency to both stimulate economic growth in the wake of the global pandemic and to develop sufficient numbers of low carbon homes have added a new imperative to the debate. 

A number of actions are required including the development of implementable solutions to the specific regulatory, technical, economic and other obstacles. This paper explores these challenges and makes a number of recommendations. 

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Jun 10, 2021

Is this a problem solely for regulators and bureaucrats, or is there something you'd say the utilities can/should do in these cases? 

Andy Bradley's picture
Andy Bradley on Jun 16, 2021

It is actually a problem for both the regulator and the utilities (DNO), but it can be mitigated to some extent by technology solutions. The problem for the regulator is how to incentivise the DNO to invest in building new network capacity ahead of demand which is then recovered from household bills. There is a risk that, if the development does not go ahead as planned, the DNO will be left with a cost which we will all be burdened with but which serves no useful purpose.

This is a discussion which has been going on for some time, but is now becoming critical as we move towards an ever increasing degree of electrification for heat and mobility in new homes. As we note in the paper, the regulator is already making moves to overcome one aspect of this challenge by introducing new charging arrangements which do not impose the entire network investment cost on the developer up front.

The technology side is somewhat easier to address and we are already starting to see innovations which manage electricity demand from EV charging or heat pumps to better align with local generation (from rooftop solar) for example, using smart controls together with battery storage systems.

Andy Bradley's picture
Thank Andy for the Post!
Energy Central contributors share their experience and insights for the benefit of other Members (like you). Please show them your appreciation by leaving a comment, 'liking' this post, or following this Member.
More posts from this member

Get Published - Build a Following

The Energy Central Power Industry Network is based on one core idea - power industry professionals helping each other and advancing the industry by sharing and learning from each other.

If you have an experience or insight to share or have learned something from a conference or seminar, your peers and colleagues on Energy Central want to hear about it. It's also easy to share a link to an article you've liked or an industry resource that you think would be helpful.

                 Learn more about posting on Energy Central »