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NPg and UKPN release flexibility focused RIIO-ED2 plans

Image: Getty.

Image: Getty.

Following on from similar releases yesterday, both Northern Powergrid (NPg) and UK Power Networks (UKPN) have released their RIIO-ED2 plans.

They have identified billions of pounds of investment they will make in their networks over the next price period, which is set to run from 2023-28.

Stakeholders will be able to respond to the draft plans ahead of their final submission to regulator Ofgem in December.

NPg – managing uncertainty with a flexibility-first outlook

NPg has announced £3.2 billion of funding to support a zero-carbon future and the creation of 1,000 jobs in the North East, Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire. This is an increase of 36% on investment during the previous price period, and will see the distributed network operator (DNO) invest £600 million a year to support increasing electrical demand.

This is being driven by the growth in electric vehicles (EVs) and heat pumps, as transport and heat turn to electrification to enable decarbonisation.

In NPg’s region, it is expecting the volume of EVs to increase to 941,000 during the five years to 2028. Similarly heat pumps are expected to grow to 309,000, while generation and storage hits 7.4GW.

This will continue to grow beyond the RIIO-ED2 period, with over 5 million EVs, 3.5 million heat pumps and 16.1GW of generation and storage expected by 2050.

“The pathway to decarbonisation is still uncertain, as emerging technologies such as green hydrogen, carbon capture and storage (CCS) and grid-scale energy storage compete for funding and mainstream uptake,” said Patrick Erwin, NPg’s policy and markets director.

“We are proposing a draft plan that will help manage this uncertainty by operating a flexibility-first approach; strengthening the capability of our network and operating a smart, flexible system that can adapt to every potential decarbonisation pathway for our customers.”

NPg has begun work to increase flexibility on its network already, including launching a 19MW flexibility tender as well as announcing an £11.4 million investment in remote network management in April.

NPg’s full RIIO-ED2 business plan can be read here.

UKPN – planning for a decade of ‘transformative change’

An increase in EVs and heat pumps is also a key priority in UKPN’s business plan for the upcoming RIIO-ED2 price period. The DNO is forecasting up to 2.7 million EVs being connected to its networks by 2028, a significant increase from just 150,000 currently, as well as an additional 700,000 heat pumps.

The DNO’s plan therefore has flexibility at its heart, it said, allowing it to adapt to demand regardless of the speed or scale at which the public adopts low carbon solutions.

It is investing £4.5 billion for the five year period, although it has forecast that an additional £1.1 billion of potential investment may be needed if the highest uptake of EVs and heat pumps forecast by the Climate Change Committee in its sixth carbon budget materialises.

As part of its plan therefore, it is proposing a number of innovative approaches to help unlock public on-street charging. This is a key consumer barrier to buying an EV, the network operator said, so it will increase the current levels of on-street public chargers by 25%.

Like other DNO’s, UKPN has already begun work to increase flexibility on its network, including creating an EV based virtual power plant earlier this year following UK's largest flexibility tender.

The next decade will be one of “transformative change”, said UKPN chief executive officer Basil Scarsella, bringing “major change to the lifestyles of people and communities; from the way we refuel our vehicles to heating our homes and using energy wisely.

“That is why we have undertaken our most extensive ever consultation and engagement exercise, responding to what more than 26,000 people have told us and creating a Business Plan with customers and communities at its heart. I would like to invite anyone who would like to feed into our Business Plan, to view it online or attend one of our planned events to let us know what they think.”

UKPN’s full RIIO-ED2 business plan can be read here.

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