SSEN Distribution takes industry-first step in publishing regional energy efficiency forecasts

The scale of the opportunity from increased energy efficiency has been highlighted in two new reports commissioned by Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) Distribution.

The analysis, undertaken by Regen, forecast the action required to roll out energy efficiency measures to meet the UK and Scottish Government’s net zero targets and the scale of how this is likely to offset expected increases in electricity demand at a regional level.  This adds to SSEN’s Distribution Future Energy Scenarios, which utilise four different scenarios to forecast the expected uptake in low-carbon technologies such as electric vehicles and heat pumps.  

The reports, which analyse potential impact to 2050, are modelled using existing and proposed policies, current trends and abatement measures identified as commercially feasible. The analysis shows that, while many aspects of energy efficiency are driven by national policy and trends, the local demand impact can vary significantly depending on the domestic, commercial and industrial building stock and demand sources present in each area.

Heating is responsible for around 18% of the UK’s annual carbon emissions and for over 31% of average UK household emissions. Research by the Climate Change Committee (CCC) found that for the UK to be on track for net zero all buildings will need to be upgraded to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of ‘C’ over the next 10-15 years. This will require improving the energy efficiency of 19 million buildings.

The reports apply the UK’s national targets at a local level in SSEN’s north of Scotland and central southern England electricity distribution areas. Key findings include:

  • Over 60% of homes In Portsmouth, Southampton, Bournemouth, the Highlands and Islands and Oxford will need to be upgraded to secure an EPC rating of C or above
  • Over 50% of homes in Aberdeen and Dundee will need to be upgraded to an achieve EPC C rating
  • By 2035, the impact of energy efficiency on current baseload electricity demand ranges from 7% to 29%, depending on the region and scenario.

Energy efficiency measures support decarbonisation and lowering household bills. The UK Government has calculated that upgrading all UK homes to EPC C could provide annual energy bill savings of £7.5billion. The Scottish Government is targeting all homes, and the UK Government ‘as many homes as possible’, to have an EPC C rating by 2035.

As SSEN approaches submission of its business plan for the next price control, RIIO-ED2, the findings will be used to help better inform and target investment in its network through infrastructure upgrades and delivery of flexible solutions.  The analysis will also help inform plans for the DNO to support the rollout of energy efficiency measures where there is a customer and network benefit.

The reports are available on SSEN’s website and it will be sharing the findings with local authorities, regional stakeholders, and the UK and Scottish Governments to help shape policy application and delivery. SSEN is committed to working with the local communities it serves to help them realise their net zero goals.

Andrew Roper, SSEN’s Distribution System Operation and ED2 Director welcomed the reports:

“Energy efficiency will have a critical role in securing a fair, cost-effective and secure transition to net zero. These reports provide a welcome illustration on what realising the UK and Scottish Governments’ ambitious targets will mean for the homes, businesses and communities we serve.

“It is critically important to look at the impact on electricity demand in the round and by taking this industry-leading step to analyse energy efficiency, it will help better inform our investment plans as we prepare for the next price control period, RIIO-ED2. We are committed to sharing data and learnings to support national and local efforts to turn ambition into action and put the UK on the path to net zero.”

Jonty Haynes Senior Analyst at Regen, led the team that developed the energy efficiency analysis. He said:

“The UK is undergoing a major energy transition on the path to net zero carbon emissions, and both the UK government and the Climate Change Committee have put forward ambitious targets for energy efficiency over the next decade, an area that has historically proven challenging to decarbonise. The reasons for these goals are clear; improving energy efficiency directly leads to reduced fuel poverty, improved public health and reduced carbon emissions.

“SSEN and Regen’s study uses extensive research and data analysis to look at how existing and future electricity demand for heat, appliances, lighting and industrial processes may change in the coming decades across homes and businesses in SSEN’s licence areas as a result of energy efficiency measures. Electricity networks are already expecting big increases to demand as electric vehicles, heat pumps and new developments come online - energy efficiency can help to mitigate some of this impact.”

The reports for both distribution areas are available online: north of Scotland and central and southern England.