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West London Boroughs are currently experiencing significant electrical capacity constraints, with large areas, particularly in Ealing and Hounslow, at 100% capacity (Greater London Authority).

This comes at a time when heating strategies are increasingly electrified with heat pumps, thus exacerbating the issue and increasing the electrical requirements of each site. Experience to date indicates that planning authorities are not pulling back from the electrification of heating due to this constraint.

To continue with development in these areas, there are a number of avenues to explore:

  • Design & load calculation optimisation, particularly through more accurate load calculations (both for the heat network and other electrical infrastructure). This can be achieved through in-use monitoring and diversity calculations, and will help to reduce electrical demand;
  • Exploring available heat connections removes the need for site-specific electricity use for heat pumps;
  • At multi-phase developments where site-wide electricity supply is secured, electricity needed for later phases may initially be used to drive heat supply in earlier phases. This may be preferential to delaying installation, particularly where local authorities are increasingly aware of the importance of interim strategies; and
  • Delay of heat pump installation to later stages of development when the electrical capacity constraints are alleviated.

This is an evolving issue, with the GLA and electrical grid operators working to address the issue. Even with this, it seems likely that challenges will remain for a number of years. The measures outlined above therefore remain important to deliver low carbon heating cost effectively.