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SPEN Preparing for Net Zero December 2022 Newsletter

Dear Stakeholder

Please find below the December 2022 edition of the SP Energy Networks ICE monthly newsletter highlighting the important work we are doing to Prepare for Net Zero.


We are urging construction workers to be careful onsite and ‘Plan Ahead, Look Around’ after over 70 serious electrical incidents were reported in the last year.

Latest figures from across the area we operate in show that 74 reports were submitted to our health and safety team relating to accidents on construction sites alone.

The number of incidents highlights the risks for workers on sites, with an average of five people tragically dying each year across the UK due to accidental contact with underground or overhead electrical lines.

Use of heavy-duty machinery and vehicles mean that construction workers are often in close contact with power lines, which can be easily forgotten about among busy daily schedules and operations.

It is essential to plan ahead to avoid the risk of vehicles either driving into power lines or tippers coming into contact with overhead lines.

Our safety campaign is being backed by leading construction organisations including the Home Builders Federation, the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) and Homes for Scotland, who are encouraging members and construction workers to follow the safety advice on offer.

SP Energy Networks Health & Safety Director Derek Bell, said: “Work on construction sites can be very fast paced so it’s incredibly important that workers are aware of electrical hazards on site before any activity starts.

“By planning ahead and ensuring teams are aware of electrical hazards, it helps minimise the risk of accidents, which can often occur due to workers striking power lines they’re unaware of.

“Our campaign aims to raise awareness of electrical risks and share free safety advice that can help prevent accidents.”

Carry out a risk assessment in accordance with HSE Guidance Note HS (G) 47, ‘Avoiding Danger from Underground Services’ and GS6 ‘Avoiding danger from overhead power lines’.

Ensure you have up-to-date plans of underground services in the area – SP Energy Networks can supply these if you don’t have them.

Include the 105 electrical emergency hotline on your site plans and in your list of telephone contacts; workers can also save it in their mobiles.

Always scan the area you intend to excavate using a Cable Avoidance Tool (CAT) and Genny.

Be aware that the actions of third parties could have altered cable depths or positions since the cables were laid.

Mark cable positions using waterproof road paint or another permanent marker.
Kieran Walker, Technical Director at Home Builders Federation, said: “Electrical hazards can pose a serious risk for our network of home builders if the correct processes are not followed. We urge our members to remain cautious when operating near power lines and to follow the advice provided by SP Energy Networks to avoid future incidents.”

Ed Evans, Director of CECA Wales, said: “Our civil engineering workers operate in difficult and dangerous environments and their safety is our top priority. We would urge them to take on board this important advice from SP Energy Networks alongside their own rigorous procedures”

Jane Wood, Chief Executive at Homes for Scotland, said: “As ongoing supporters of this campaign, the guidance highlighted continues to be a very useful resource to support our members. By collaborating to raise awareness about electrical risks and the ways to avoid them, we can help to save lives.”


The first combined heat pump and home heat battery storage system has been installed in a home in Inverness as part of the roll-out of 150 zero carbon heating systems across Scotland.

Our Re-HEAT project is testing the benefits of zero carbon heating for households and how Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) like us can manage the impact that heat pumps may have on grids.

Re-HEAT is a large scale trial we are leading on alongside Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN), working in partnership with energy supply and solutions provider E.ON, heat pump manufacturers, Daikin and thermal storage unit manufacturers, Sunamp.

Installation of heat pumps with storage can help provide a comfortable temperature because they operate at a consistent temperature throughout the day. Our Re-HEAT project will also test whether participating households can reduce their energy bills compared to gas or pure electric heating, by taking advantage of times when electricity prices are lower to charge their heat batteries. In the future, smart devices will allow households and businesses to benefit from flexing their energy use in response to a request, which will give them greater control over their energy bills whilst helping to balance supply and demand on the local electricity network.

The Scottish Government is committed to reaching Net Zero by 2045, and decarbonising heat in buildings is a priority. Heat pumps are already appearing across Scotland, with around 39% (500,000) homes in our Distribution license area expected to have them installed by 2030.

To maximise the benefit of a heat pump system, the fabric of the property, such as its insulation, must be of a sufficient standard to allow a consistent temperature to be maintained. Insulation can also help keep energy bills lower for residents. Participants in our Re-HEAT project are assessed to ensure their properties are suitable for these technologies.

Scott Mathieson, our Network Planning & Regulation Director, said: “Our electricity networks are at the heart of the transition to a Net Zero Scotland, and we recognise the need to take action now to ensure they are able to cope with the significant increase in demand we know we’ll see as more low carbon technology is connected.

“We are really pleased to see our ReHeat project reach its first significant milestone, kickstarting our work to explore how electricity networks can facilitate the large-scale electrification of heat – which comes at a time when innovative solutions are more critical than ever to ensuring a Just Transition and to enabling us to keep power flowing to our customers and communities.”

Rhys Williams, Re-HEAT Project Manager for Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks said:

“We are delighted to have reached the landmark of installing the first heat pump in a customer’s home and look forward to tracking the benefits to that household over the next couple of winters. Households with a heat pump and an electric vehicle can have a peak electricity requirement that is twenty times higher than households without these low carbon technologies. It is therefore essential that we manage the transition to net zero technologies as efficiently and cost effectively as possible."

Charlotte Flowerdew, Programme Manager at E.ON said: ““We are delighted to be part of this ground-breaking project in Scotland. We have seen impressive uptake from households but there is still some time for eligible homeowners to take advantage of the funding available to upgrade their heating and hot water system to the latest technology. This will help lower carbon footprints and may help to reduce heating costs.”

We are a part of a Heat Electrification Strategic Partnership with the Scottish Government and SSEN, focused on accelerating the decarbonisation of heating in Scotland. Re-HEAT is a £5 million project, funded via a number of schemes including £1.26m from the Scottish Government’s Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme and £1.2m from Home Energy Efficiency Programme for Scotland.


Our Green Recovery Investment project is creating electrical capacity to prepare our network for a Net Zero future.

In Merseyside, we’re supporting three major regeneration projects with significant upgrades to our existing substations:

Birkenhead Town Centre regeneration
South Wirral Water
Bootle Canal Quarter
Our upgrades will help ensure these projects support the North West’s ambitious Net Zero targets which are ten years ahead of the UK average.

In our video Geena Leonard, the project engineer responsible for our Green Recovery Investment uprating schemes, explains how we’re delivering greener growth in the region.

We’re making great progress and we’re over halfway through our uprating work. These essential upgrades will prepare us for a Net Zero future and ensure our network is resilient in the face of growing demand.


We have welcomed Ofgem’s Accelerating Strategic Transmission Investment plan (opens in a new window) published today.

This positive milestone for the energy industry recognises the scale of transmission network investment required to connect low carbon generation and enable the Net Zero transition. Investment in electricity networks must be delivered at unprecedented pace, and we strongly support the ambition to create more agile regulatory mechanisms and speed up regulatory approvals for strategic infrastructure.

Ofgem has also proposed a new incentive mechanism aimed at supporting the ambitious target dates set by the Electricity System Operator to achieve Great Britain’s 2030 Net Zero targets. We supports clear and fair incentives for timely delivery, where these recognise the current economic climate impacting global supply chains and also take into account issues that Transmission owners cannot control, such as changes required to the existing planning frameworks across GB to support timely delivery of Net Zero investment.

Our CEO Vicky Kelsall, said:

“An agile and effective regulatory framework is critical to connecting offshore and onshore renewable generation, ensuring that green electricity can be delivered safely and efficiency across the UK, unlocking the benefits of reducing carbon emissions and system balancing costs. We therefore stand ready to work with Ofgem and our stakeholders to deliver critical Net Zero investment, and to create new jobs that investment supports, through a more streamlined regulatory process.”


We have completed an £18 million major reinforcement project in North Shropshire that will facilitate new growth and development across the region.

The project will also enhance the resilience of the network for 30,000 homes and businesses in the area.

It’s our largest reinforcement project in England and Wales, and will increase the network capacity to enable development plans and the further introduction of low carbon technologies. It will support new housing and business developments across the area including Oswestry, Wem and Whitchurch.

Since 2016 we have been planning and constructing the upgrade to the existing substation at Wem with the installation of a 132kV wood pole overhead line and underground cable from the existing substation at Oswestry.

To mark the substation being completed, a site visit and engineering presentation was held with representatives of North Shropshire local authorities and a group of STEM students from Thomas Adams Sixth Form College, Wem.

Throughout the project, our team worked closely with the local wildlife trust in Shropshire and other key stakeholders to undertake several environmental initiatives including habitat and hedgerow enhancements and pond and wetland restoration.

As part of the upgrade, in a UK first we trialled new eco-friendly treatments on 10% of the new wood overhead line poles. They were treated with copper oil, which is kinder to the environment than traditional creosote.

Mark Sobczak, 132kV General Manager for our SP Manweb Licence Area said: “Shropshire continues on its journey to becoming Net Zero by 2030 and we are proud to support this transition and the communities we serve.

“Our £18 million investment will also help communities in North Shropshire realise their own Net Zero ambitions by providing infrastructure to increase electricity network resilience and supporting the decarbonisation of transport, heat and industry in the area.”

Councillor Edward Towers, Shropshire Councillor for Wem, Wem Rural and Whixall said: “The North Shropshire reinforcement project is critical for our electrical infrastructure and, with the added capacity, facilitates future growth and development in the area. In addition, this will enable the transition to low carbon technologies, therefore I’m delighted to see the new equipment fully commissioned and providing electricity to homes and businesses.

“It’s also encouraging to learn about the range of environmental features that have been used in this project to limit the carbon footprint of the project activity and the future operation of the network, and I’m grateful to SP Energy Networks for providing the other stakeholders and I with regular updates throughout the duration of the project.”


Five for five. As the Western HVDC Link celebrates its five year anniversary, we look back on five key facts.

This month marks five years since power started flowing through the Western Link, a £1.2 billion joint venture delivered and operated by SP Transmission (SPT) and National Grid Electricity Transmission (NGET).

The Link is the highest capacity single subsea link in the world. It is also the first bi-directional subsea interconnector (capable of transmitting energy in both directions). It connects Ardneil Bay on the west coast of Scotland with Quay Bay, on the north coast of Wales, through a route of some 420km of cable, of which approximately 385km is subsea.

Five for five. As the Western HVDC Link celebrates its five year anniversary, we look back on five key facts.

This month marks five years since power started flowing through the Western Link, a £1.2 billion joint venture delivered and operated by SP Transmission (SPT) and National Grid Electricity Transmission (NGET).

The Link is the highest capacity single subsea link in the world. It is also the first bi-directional subsea interconnector (capable of transmitting energy in both directions). It connects Ardneil Bay on the west coast of Scotland with Quay Bay, on the north coast of Wales, through a route of some 420km of cable, of which approximately 385km is subsea.

So, as we celebrate five years of the Link – here are five key facts on the project:

In the five years since its completion, Western Link has transmitted 23,483GWh of green energy.

In the last 12 months, Western Link has achieved 98.48% energy availability (compared to a 97% contract target).

Across the planning, development and build stages of the project – Western Link supported 450 high-quality jobs in our communities.

The Western Link is a clear example of our commitment to investing in the UK and has a planned lifespan of 40 years.

During the development and build of the project, marine engineers found the wreck of a WW1 German U-boat while surveying the sea bed off the coast of Wigtownshire. Folklore has it the sinking may even have been the result of an attack by a great sea monster...

Kind regards,

Stakeholder & Community Engagement Team

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