Electric Grid Miscalculations Impact Housebuilding in the UK

Grid capacity challenges are so severe in West London that a ban could be placed on housebuilding altogether until capacity frees up in the network

In the digital era, power is king. Electricity powers much of our day to day lives, as well as crucial healthcare, global industry, and more. As the electrification of transport develops, electricity demand is on the rise and grids are struggling to keep up. 

Independent advisors Turley have identified the impact that this is having on the housebuilding industry in the UK, stating that 2.5 times as many houses could be built if current methods of estimating the size of grid connection new housing required were accurate

“Our electrical grid is fundamental for the housebuilding and renewable energy deployment we need, affecting our economic growth and the transition to net zero,” shares Barny Evans, Director, Sustainability and ESG, at Turley.

“We desperately need more housing to meet the UK Government’s 300,000 homes target, yet there is evidence we’re stopping ourselves from hitting that because of overestimated grid capacity calculation methods. There’s an immediate opportunity here to make better use of our grid and make sure we’re delivering homes quickly, in the places that need them most.

“We need to come together to review the current electricity sizing process using the latest evidence to ensure we are making the most of the system we have.”

Turley is a trusted independent advisor offering expert services for the built environment and beyond. Operating throughout the UK and Ireland, Turley has market-leading expertise in business cases and funding, design, economics, EIA, expert witness, heritage, townscape & landscape, planning, strategic communications and sustainability & ESG.

Built on over 40 years of planning consultancy experience, the scope of Turley’s offer has expanded as the market has evolved. Combining professional expertise with in-depth market knowledge, Turley delivers thriving places and communities across all sectors to shape a more sustainable future.

Constructing homes for the next generation of energy users

Historically, the  standard energy requirement for a new home has been between 1.5kVA to 2kVA of power. But as electrification intensifies, almost all new homes will have an electric heat pump as well as an EV charger — both which increase the amount of electricity homes need. 

There isn’t a confirmed update for the new peak energy requirement, but estimates ranges from 3kVA to 7.5kVA. 

Whilst the current average estimate is around 4.5kVA, Turley suggests 4.5kVA is a significant overestimation, and that the average new home may need only 1.8kVA. This is due to homes being built to be more energy efficient, as well as user habits changing — many homeowners are utilising variable electricity tariffs which reward them for reducing peak demand on the grid.

Turley says that an industry-wide review into the sizing process of grid connectivity for the housebuilding industry could free up substantial capacity in the grid, which is currently facing significant backlogs as housing and infrastructure projects wait to be connected to the network. This would reduce costs to build new homes and increase the speed of delivery.

The current grid capacity challenges are so severe in West London that a ban could be placed on housebuilding altogether until capacity frees up in the network.

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