Electricity networks collaborate to accelerate connection timescales in West London

National Grid and Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks Distribution, in partnership with Electricity System Operator and Greater London Authority, have collaborated on an innovative new technical solution to unlock electricity network capacity in parts of West London.

Housing developments in parts of three London boroughs (Hounslow, Hillingdon and Ealing) have had their connection dates brought forward by the networks enabling ramped connections that deliver increased electricity supply over time. Project developments totalling 7800 homes have had their connection dates accelerated through this solution, equating to a total of 10.5 megavolt amperes of demand capacity.

In most cases, projects that were previously given connection dates into the 2030s now have a pathway to connect in the next 12-24 months, in line with developer timescales.

This is part of a programme of work that began in July 2022 aimed at investigating immediate and long-term solutions to unlock network capacity in the area, following a significant upsurge in connection applications from large demand sources such as data centres. This solution means it is expected there will be sufficient capacity still available to connect more homes if and when they come forward in future, allowing them to progress in line with developers’ and local authorities’ plans to meet housing, commerce, and local low-carbon energy needs (e.g. EV charging points).

These solutions include new ways of modelling demand and new contracts at a distribution level, and an estimated 76MVA of network flexibility services which SSEN expects to contract in its London Boroughs by June 2024. These flexibility services will include battery storage and incentivising energy users to turn down demand at certain times to reduce the network ‘peaks’, usually early morning and evening.  This will allow more projects to connect to the distribution network, ahead of network upgrades.

London Deputy Mayor for Planning, Regeneration and Skills, Jules Pipe, said: “It’s great to see our joint working with the electricity networks help unlock housing and net zero technologies across West London and make progress in resolving the area’s long term electricity capacity issues. 

“The steps we've taken so far have connected nearly 8,000 new homes, with the solutions announced today helping to maintain the pace of delivery in the remaining developments, as we continue to build a better, greener and more prosperous London for everyone."

Andrew Scott, Director of Customer Service at SSEN Distribution, said: “This collaborative work is a great example of what can be achieved when networks and local government work together to tackle the issues that matter.

“We are delighted to play a big part in unlocking connections for developments in West London and accelerating innovative solutions that can be replicated elsewhere. This includes bringing forward plans to contract local flexibility services to allow all homes in the current pipeline to connect.

“SSEN remains committed to accelerating connections reform as part of industry collaboration while taking a net-zero-first approach to investment to ensure our network is ready when our customers need it. These plans include £300m of strategic investment in the West London area alone.”

John Twomey, Head of Connections at National Grid Electricity Transmission said: “We’re really pleased to have been able to unlock network capacity in West London and accelerate the connection dates of developments in the area.

"This has been a collaborative effort with Scottish Southern Electricity Networks, the Electricity System Operator and the Greater London Authority which has delivered innovative solutions that have made improvements quickly and efficiently.

"We look forward to continuing this work to unlock further capacity in this area, including exploring the long term upgrades required to the transmission network in the region.

"Connecting projects to our transmission network, and unlocking capacity at lower voltage distribution networks, is a massive priority for us. To connect projects faster, we’re upgrading the grid – the biggest upgrade in a generation – and working collaboratively with industry, government and the regulator on reforms to the connections process.” 

David Wildash, interim Director of Engineering and Customer Solutions at the Electricity System Operator (ESO) said: "The ESO is proud to have been able to play a part in this vital and innovative work to resolve challenges and accelerate connections in West London. 

"We will continue our collaboration with government, the regulator and across the energy industry to deliver long term reform to the connections process. With enduring, impactful reforms, the connections queue can be unblocked and Britain can keep building to deliver net zero."