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New paper reveals hidden cost of Net Zero decarbonisation

London, 16 July: The UK faces a £200 billion bill to rewire the country if the government follows through on plans to electrify the country’s homes and transport systems. That’s because installation of electric car chargers and heat pumps will push up demand for power beyond the capacity of the existing wiring.

The findings are set out in a new report from the Global Warming Policy Foundation, which is published today. According to author Mike Travers, this will mean that most streets in the UK will need to be dug up (with diesel-driven machinery):

“At present new home car chargers and heat pumps are using up all the spare capacity. But we will soon reach the point where the network will not be able to handle the extra demand. So in towns and cities, the underground cables which carry the power will be inadequate. That means that we are going to have to dig up almost every urban street and many rural ones too. The whole distribution grid is going to need to be replaced.”

And the cables that carry power into the homes will need to be dug up too.

According to Travers:

“The power cables taking electricity into your home probably run underneath your front drive. So if you want a car charger and a heat pump you are going to have to pay to dig it up. If you have an expensive monoblocked drive, that will not be cheap. Distribution boards, main fuses and smart meters in homes are going to have to be upgraded too.”

Travers has estimated the cost of all this work at around £200 billion, even before considering the cost caused by the disruption. “Many homeowners will be paying thousands”, he says. 

Notes for journalists

Mike Travers CEng, MIMechE, FIET is an electrical engineer, whose career spanned periods in the Royal Engineers, in the hydroelectric sector, and industry. He previously sat on the the IET Wiring Regulations Committee and was the industry representative on the committee that rewrote the Grid Codes for Scotland. 

His paper is entitled The Hidden Cost of Net Zero: Rewiring the UK and can be downloaded here (pdf)