New report from Renewable Energy Association warns rollout of domestic green technologies is being held back by ‘pre-WWII’ electrical standards
Electrical standards for new homes must be urgently upgraded to prepare for a low-carbon future where homes generate and store their own power, the Renewable Energy Association (REA) has warned.
In a new position paper released today, the REA argues the installation of new technologies such as home electric vehicle (EV) charging, solar generation, and battery storage, is being held back by “pre-World War II” electrical standards.
At present most UK housebuilders run a mains cable down a street containing three ‘phases’, but only connect each house to one of the phases. The paper calls for this practice to end entirely, to be replaced with a three-phase supply as standard across all new homes.
It argues this would allow demand from electrical appliances, such as a washing machine or domestic battery, to be split across the three phases giving homes greater power capacity. Three-phase supplies could also pave the way for households to install faster EV chargers or larger solar PV arrays, the REA claims.
“The built environment is a major source of carbon emissions,” said REA chief executive Nina Skorupska in a statement. “If we are serious about delivering on our ambitions to reduce energy bills, meet our carbon targets, and deliver on our Industrial Strategy aims, we should ensure that they have adequate electrical connections. Three phase power supplies in new homes can facilitate a more rapid deployment of renewable heat systems, greater uptake in rooftop solar PV, and greater choice in charging your electric vehicle.”
Western Power Distribution, which sponsored the report, is currently trialling three-phase installations in some of its new residential developments to assess the costs and benefits of a switch. Installing a three-phase supply is likely to be marginally more expensive, but help future-proof power supply well into the future, the report suggests.
“Additional costs to housebuilders are already low for a three-phase connection compared to a single-phase in new homes,” Skorupska added. “If the government compelled the network operators to fit new homes in this way, the cost would fall even lower.”
In response to the report a BEIS spokesperson said the government is committed to enabling the deployment of smart and low carbon technologies, including electric vehicles and storage. “Our joint-publication with Ofgem, the Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan, part of our modern Industrial Strategy, sets out actions to help ensure that these new technologies can be accommodated by the electricity system in the most effective way,” they added.