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Network investment remains key to a secure, reliable and resilient Net Zero future

24/11/2022

Stephanie Anderson, our Head of Network Regulation & Policy, touches on how our RIIO-ED2 investment proposals put us at the forefront of positive change for a Net Zero future. 

This time last year, we were immensely proud to be a Principal Partner for COP26 - a global and hugely significant event - right on our doorstep in Glasgow. At the same time, we published our final RIIO-ED2 Business Plan - our most ambitious to date. Stephanie Anderson

With COP27 having concluded in Sharm-el-Sheikh, Egypt, and Ofgem's Final Determination on our plan due on 30 November, now seems a good time to address one of the key takeaways from both conferences: that bold, real change is not only needed, but essential, if we are to meet our Net Zero ambitions, delivering on our obligations to future generations and tackling the climate emergency we all must face. 

Indeed, in their cover decision - a key output of the summit - COP27 recognised that 'the unprecedented global energy crisis underlines the urgency to rapidly transform energy systems to be more secure, reliable and resilient', as well as 'the need to accelerate clean and just transitions to renewable energy during this critical decade of action.' While many points in the cover decision remain contentious, these were not among them. 

Responding to, advocating for and enacting change has been a key step in our journey. 

Change guides what we do: we will see a consumer-led revolution in electric vehicles and heat pumps in the years to come, powered by a step-change in renewable generation and other new technologies - all of which we'll have to integrate into the distribution grid. We have forecasted that up to 1.8 million electric vehicles, more than 1 million heat pumps, and up to triple the amount of distributed generation will need to be supported by our networks by the end of this decade. 

To meet the challenge of this transition, we are embarking on one of the biggest infrastructure projects in recent history: our RIIO-ED2 Business Plan. And with the commitments we have proposed in this plan, we will not just be responding to change, but leading it as we drive towards Net Zero. 

From 2023 to 2028, we want to invest more than £3 billion across our distribution networks. This investment will enable the connection of over 670,000 electric vehicles, 370,000 domestic heat pumps and an additional 5GW of low carbon electricity generation connected through the five-year investment. On top of this, we'll deliver over 700 smart substations, 800km of cable and over 47,000 service cables and create more than 1,100 jobs. Whilst much of Great Britain's economic activity is shrinking, we will be a key enabler to help stimulate growth in our economy. 

This investment isn’t just about reaching Net Zero.  At a time when energy security is a part of the national discourse like never before, our business lies at the heart of future security.  We will make sure that our network is more reliable and resilient than ever.  Our plan will also help deliver a just transition for the communities we serve – delivering jobs, economic growth, and environmental benefits.   

Enabled by a long-term funding model, we can spread the costs of our investment over many decades - keeping costs lower for customers while making sure that we invest when and where it’s needed.  At a time of increasing pressure on customers’ bills, we will keep our portion of the bill broadly flat over the course of RIIO-ED2 and reduce bills in real terms over the next 10 years, for on average 30 pence per household per day.  Crucially, we will do this all while supporting our vulnerable customers in a time of great transition, with extensive proposals to support our communities when they need us most.

The direction from our national, devolved, and local governments is clear: Net Zero is not an option. We need to ramp up now to meet future targets, and this is what our RIIO-ED2 Business Plan does.

The stakes are high, and we are clear on what must be done. We must be bold as we reimagine the role of our network, the services we provide, and the capabilities of our business.  Our job in RIIO-ED2 is to help make these a reality and that’s why we need to invest in our networks, now: for a secure, reliable and resilient Net Zero future.

But we can’t do this alone.  And we haven’t – our own plan has been shaped through our largest ever engagement programme, with over 19,000 customers and stakeholders shaping our 100 plan commitments.  That is why we have such confidence in our proposals and the investment that goes along with it.

We’re looking forward to Ofgem’s final determination on our plans this week and hope the framework they provide allows us to match the pace of change needed and achieve our targets.  We stand ready to support the communities we serve by investing in our Net Zero future, delivering on our commitments and doing what we have promised for RIIO-ED2, just as we’ve done for RIIO-ED1.

Read more about our investment proposals in our ED2 Business Plan

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