If we continue to use our electricity network in the same way as we do now, we will need to invest nearly £9 billion in the North West to expand the network and cope with the extra demand as early as 2025.
The impact of this potentially enormous increase in electricity demand has two direct consequences which will need to be resolved if Britain is to move towards a low carbon future.
High costs to customers
To meet the growing demand for electricity we will need additional network capacity. Using traditional capital intensive reinforcement techniques would mean significant investment. A 2009 Ofgem consultation document estimated that as a country we would need to invest as much as £53.4 billion in the electricity network between 2009 and 2025. This investment would be paid for through higher bills for customers.
Impact on society and the environment
Reinforcing the electricity network will also have a significant impact on carbon emissions and the wider society. Calculations endorsed by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research estimate that the investment work to meet the increased demand for electricity would discharge the equivalent of the average annual emissions of approximately 72,200 UK citizens.
Traditional reinforcement techniques are also very intrusive for local communities and can often involve extensive excavations and disruption. Average reinforcement timescales are in the region of 12-16 weeks for work involving cable or switchgear replacement and usually much longer when new transformers or more complicated work is needed.