SSEN calls for new investment mechanism to drive networks to net zero

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) has unveiled a series of policy recommendations to ensure the UK’s network infrastructure is prepared for net zero.

It made the suggestions in its report, Delivering DSO, in which it highlighted the “substantial progress” it has been making in its transition to a distribution system operator (DSO) of a smarter, flexible electricity network. It is investing over £160mn in RIIO-ED1 to support its shift. It has already invested in making the grid more robust, resilient and intelligent in a bid to understand how it can support Distributed Energy Resources (DER), electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure, electrification of heat and other low-carbon modifications.

The next phase of SSEN’s working has involved investment in digital solutions and technology to automate and control its network, alongside offering frameworks for ancillary services with the goal of encouraging participation from DER owners and aggregators.

However, it stressed that action from industry had to be matched with a supportive and flexible policy environment. SSEN made a series of policy recommendations which, it said, would help support its own transition and create a foundation for the delivery of net zero in the electricity system. This includes a call for the introduction of a clear mechanism to support anticipatory investment, helping electricity networks to prepare for net zero.

SSEN also recommended introducing requirements for new homes to be EV ready with the appropriate charging infrastructure; mandating for the installation of smart EV charging to ensure that infrastructure is being efficiently used; improving the transparency of anonymised EV use to support the smooth transition to electrified transport; and encouraging households to adopt flexibility by offering a financial incentive above market value. It cited data in particular as something that should be used to support efficient investment decisions as well as a cost-effective path to net zero.

Andrew Roper, Director of DSO at SSEN, said: “To ensure the nation’s electricity networks keep pace with the net zero transition, it’s clear to me that data will be the ‘killer app’. This means the ability to access to real-time, transparent, data on the low carbon technologies connecting to our networks and in the use of rich analytics and projections to make a robust case for strategic investment for net zero.”