As we endeavour to move away from oil and gas towards a greater reliance on electricity, a very real problem is the ability (or lack thereof) of UK electricity infrastructure to cope with the increased demand.
In the bid to reach net zero, we need to increase generation from clean energy sources. This comes with the additional need for electricity storage, whether in the form of batteries or otherwise. All of these generation and energy sources will need to be connected to the electricity grid. In addition, as we move towards heating our homes and cooking etc. with electricity rather than gas, each household will have higher capacity needs. The UK electricity grid is not built for such a high capacity or for so many connections.
The grid is already overstretched, as highlighted by an article in BloombergNEF. The article reports that requests to connect to the grid have quadrupled in the past four years and there are queues of developers waiting to connect. Also reported by an article in The Economist (behind a paywall), a recent letter from the Greater London Authority noted that new housing developments are being told that they will need to wait until between 2027 and 2030 to be connected.
The road to net zero is not as simple as adding solar panels to the top of buildings. The whole of the UK electricity grid will need to be upgraded. But in a cost of living crisis, the question of who will foot the bill is of great concern.
In the last four years, there has been a quadrupling in applicants to the U.K. power system, and this year the number is expected to rise even further, said Roisin Quinn, director of customer connections for National Grid Electricity Transmission