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No Net Zero without networks: A blog from Iain Divers, Head of RIIO-ED2


Iain Divers, Head of RIIO-ED2Reflecting on COP26 and investing to make Net Zero a reality through our RIIO-ED2 Business Plan

Just a short few weeks ago, the world’s eyes were on Glasgow as leaders from all corners of the globe gathered for COP26, looking to secure an agreement on the future pathway to Net Zero.

We were incredibly proud to be a Principal Partner for COP26, and it was the perfect opportunity for us to highlight the critical work we’re doing to help deliver the UK’s ambitious Net Zero targets.

The intense negotiations ran over the conference deadline, and despite some compromises needed to land an agreement, the message from all of the world leaders and climate experts was clear: change is needed.

Wanting change is a key step in our journey, but at SP Energy Networks we’re acutely aware that the real task has already begun – and that’s to take on our obligations to future generations and tackle the climate emergency by investing in our Net Zero future.

The RIIO-ED2 Business Plan we’ll publish on 1 December is the most important that we have ever produced and sets out how we’ll build the foundations for this revolution across the communities we serve.

Electricity will be at the heart of the Net Zero transition. We will see a consumer-led revolution in electric vehicles and heat pumps, powered by a step-change in renewable generation and other new technologies, which we’ll have to integrate into the distribution grid. In short, there’s no Net Zero without networks. We’ve already recognised this by prioritising actions to tackle the climate emergency and delivering £7 billion of investment into our networks between 2015 and 2023.

From 2023 to 2028, we propose spending more than £3 billion across our distribution networks in Central and Southern Scotland, North Wales, Merseyside, Cheshire, and North Shropshire to enable the path to our Net Zero future.

engineerIn doing this, we will deliver jobs in the communities we serve – and more in our supply chain. We will lead our own drive to Net Zero by 2035. And, we will do this all while supporting our vulnerable customers in a time of great transition, with extensive proposals to support our customers when they need us most.

Underpinning our vision is our blueprint for a future system architecture that can meet this colossal challenge across our 105,000km of network and 30,000 substations. Using our innovative forecasting and modelling tools, we’ve developed long-term plans to enable the coming wave of low carbon technologies and make sure we keep supplies safe, secure and reliable for the customers and communities who rely on us. We will do all of this while preparing for a future of our business that will look very different to today.

We know that we need to redouble our efforts on setting a clear pathway to Net Zero, and we’re ready to do that through our RIIO-ED2 Business Plan.

DSAP chargeThe climate emergency, that was so clearly articulated during COP26, will touch every part of our society.  This will lead to massive changes in how we all live our lives, especially as we replace the use of fossil fuels for transport and heat.

When much of the current electricity infrastructure was built, homes used gas or solid fuel for heating with only twenty appliances running on electricity – compared to more than fifty now. Looking to the future, we forecast that up to 1.8 million electric vehicles, 1.1m heat pumps, and up to triple the amount of distributed generation, will be supported by our networks by the end of this decade.

To meet this challenge, we will embark on one of the biggest infrastructure projects in recent history - delivering the network required to support this low carbon future

There’s still a lot of uncertainty on when and how some of these changes will happen. But 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. Our job in RIIO-ED2 is to help make these a reality and that’s why we need to invest in our networks, now.

As the only Distribution Network Operator to serve all three devolved regions of GB, we also understand that Net Zero will not evolve at the same pace across every of the country.  Because of this, our plans are built around the needs of our communities and their unique Net Zero ambitions.

But we can’t do this alone. Our regulator, Ofgem, must make sure the framework for RIIO-ED2 allows us to match this pace and achieve these targets, and I look forward to discussing how we can support the targets of our communities together.

A plan that’s built around what our customers, communities and stakeholders need.

Iain Divers, Head of RIIO-ED2When we published our draft RIIO-ED2 plan in July we’d already engaged over 15,000 customers and stakeholders in developing the plan - putting your needs at the centre of our decision making. When we publish our final plan, this figure will be more than 19,000 – representing the biggest engagement exercise we’ve ever conducted.

As we head towards our final plan submission, I’d encourage you to have your say. Following publication, Ofgem will launch their ‘Call for Evidence’ where you can make your voice heard on network operators’ plans.

Finally, you can be confident that we will deliver on the commitments that we’ll shortly set out in our plan – today, we are doing what we promised for RIIO-ED1, and you can trust us to do the same in RIIO-ED2.

I look forward to sharing our plans with you very shortly.


About the author

Iain is the Head of the RIIO-ED2 Business Plan project for SP Energy Networks. This plan sets out the strategy, expenditure, outputs and revenues for our distribution networks business from 2023 to 2028. This covers the 3.5m homes and businesses in both of our distribution network regions - Central and Southern Scotland, and Merseyside, Cheshire and North Wales.

Iain is a chartered electrical engineer and joined SP Energy Networks in 2007. He has worked across the organisation, with roles including front-line operations, asset management, IT projects, and investment planning.


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