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SPEN Preparing for Net Zero July 2022 Newsletter

Dear Stakeholder

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


It has been annouced that Vicky Kelsall will take the helm as our new CEO, taking over from Frank Mitchell on his retirement.

Vicky brings over thirty years’ experience in the energy sector, working across electricity networks in the UK and US alongside retail in the UK. She has worked in international roles for Scottish Power with PacifiCorp and, most recently, with its parent group Iberdrola in North America at Avangrid. Previously, she was Chief Operating Officer of SP Energy Networks, responsible for all transmission and distribution operations.

Vicky takes over as we forge ahead with our ambitious plans to lead the transition to a low carbon net zero future investing significantly in the electricity networks across Central and Southern Scotland and North West England and North Wales.

Vicky Kelsall, CEO of SP Energy Networks said: “SP Energy Networks holds the key to unlocking the net zero future for homes and businesses across our transmission and distribution areas and has outlined bold plans to ensure we can decarbonise in the most cost-effective way for consumers.

“It’s a privilege to take over the reins at this crucial time and I look forward to working with the team to get on and deliver in the months and years ahead.”

Vicky will have an initial handover period with Frank Mitchell and will lead our business starting in July, before she fully takes up the position before the end of this year.

Frank started his over 30-year career at as a graduate engineer in Networks, moving through multiple senior roles covering Retail, Generation and Corporate in the UK and USA before his appointment as CEO of SP Energy Networks in October 2009.

As CEO, he has secured greatly expanded power export capacity from Scotland, improved operational efficiency and surpassed targets set by Ofgem across Electricity Transmission and Distribution, steered the business through both the impact of the financial crash and Covid, all the while improving service for customers and creating a world-class safety culture across the business.


Today the ESO has published its Holistic Network Design (HND), setting out the strategic vision for the UK's electricity transmission network, outlining the huge challenge and opportunity, to deliver a network that is ready to facilitate 2030 decarbonisation ambitions.

The solutions proposed in the HND will see us looking to invest over £5bn in transmission projects in South and Central Scotland by 2030, categorised as "required" to deliver 2030 ambitions. These projects are a mixture of upgrading and strengthening existing network infrastructure, in addition to the design and development of new strategic transmission infrastructure. We will now work at pace on these projects to deliver the network that is required to meet ambitious Scottish and UK offshore wind 2030 targets.

Our CEO, Frank Mitchell, said: "The HND publication is a major milestone for the industry and provides a clear view of the strategic network infrastructure projects, both onshore and offshore, that will be needed to meet 2030 offshore wind ambitions.

"The network requirements that this HND represents must now be recognised as the 'network' blueprint for the required transmission network capacity to meet 2030 ambitions. This blueprint will enable early engagement with our stakeholders and supply chain on our major infrastructure projects.

"2030 is not far away. We therefore look forward to working immediately with Government and Ofgem to agree upon ways in which key changes can be made to the regulatory approvals and planning processes to ensure that delivery of this strategic transmission infrastructure can be accelerated in line with 2030 ambitions. We welcome the pragmatic approach of Government and Ofgem in being prepared to consider new and more flexible ways in which the delivery of strategic infrastructure can be delivered, and we look forward to engaging with them further on this in the coming weeks ahead.

"We also look forward to working with ScotWind developers ahead of the HND Refresh exercise later in the year, which the ESO is committed to have completed by Q1 2023.

"The ambition to 2030 is great. We stand ready to work with Government, Ofgem, the ESO and developers to ensure the vision in this HND can be realised, delivering jobs and economic development to Scotland and the rest of the UK. "

Read more on the HND Here: Pathway to 2030 Holistic Network Design


Innovative online tool will help stakeholders lead the Charge in developing new EV chargepoints.

We have launched the EV Connection Cost Estimator – another key element of our Charge Project’s innovative, free-to-use ConnectMore online solution.

The Charge Project is our initiative with partners EA Technology, PTV Group and Smarter Grid Solutions to accelerate the roll-out of public EV charging infrastructure across our Manweb region: Cheshire, Merseyside, North Shropshire, and North and Mid-Wales. The work on this project is vital to our commitment to help the UK become carbon Net Zero by 2050.

Developed by EA Technology, the launch of the ConnectMore Cost Estimator means that stakeholders – such as local authorities, site owners, property developers, or chargepoint operators – can now use ConnectMore to both identify the optimal location for chargepoints and get an instant quote for how much it will cost to connect them to the electricity network.

The Cost Estimator works together with the ConnectMore Interactive Map, which combines current and future transport patterns with existing network capacity in the region to enable stakeholders to identify optimal chargepoint locations.

John Orr, Design Engineer, SP Energy Networks, and Charge Project Lead, comments: “The ConnectMore Cost Estimator is another significant step forward in fulfilling our mission of accelerating EV chargepoint roll-out. ConnectMore is designed to make this process as quick and easy as possible, from beginning to end. Now, users can go from identifying the best chargepoint locations to getting a connection quote in a matter of minutes. Having budgetary information like this at your fingertips is a major boon when progressing EV charging projects. Installing more chargepoints in the right locations makes the transition to an electric vehicle a more viable option for people."

The Cost Estimator provides up-to-date estimations of the cost to connect chargepoints to a specific point on the electricity network. By trying out different options regarding the location, ground type, distance, existing demand constraints, potential network reinforcement work, and size of the connection, the tool can be used to identify the most cost-effective chargepoint connection.

Flexibility- We’re building tomorrows networks tendering a record 3.7 GW of flexibility so we can build capacity and reduce costs for customers

We’re proud to have played a significant part in delivering these record flexibility figures, which highlight the critical role that solutions like this have to play in the energy transition.

We are constantly looking at ways we can grow the flex market, innovative approaches to help us maximise it’s potential, and have made significant commitments to utilise flexibility as a network management solution in our ED2 Business Plan.

Just recently, we led a successful flexibility demand shift trial with Octopus Energy, which offered valuable insights into domestic customer appetite for such a market. Read more here

And find out more about our flagship FUSION innovation project, focused on flexibility in East Fife, here


We are really pleased to have been given the go ahead to progress with trials exploring thermal energy storage, hydrogen trains and forecasting the impact of extreme weather on the UK's electricity networks as the drive to Net Zero accelerates.

We have been awarded £1.6million of additional funding to progress with three projects following the successful delivery of proposals under the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) - a funding mechanism launched in 2021 by energy industry regulator Ofgem and Innovate UK to fast-track ambitious projects with the potential to cut significant levels of carbon emissions.

Our Heat Balance project will trial thermal storage and examine how it could be used to benefit the UK's electricity demand. Using advanced technology, such as inter-seasonal storage, the project will seek to identify methods that can be adapted for the UK's specific geology to ultimately reduce the overall cost of heating for customers.

Separately, the Holistic Hydrogen Approach to Heavy Duty Transport (H2H) project aims to be a catalyst that will help the UK remove all diesel trains from the network by 2040. Working in partnership with Network Rail Scotland, we will pilot the use of green hydrogen, produced via renewable energy sources, to operate prototype hydrogen trains with the eventual aim of replacing diesel trains on rural routes by 2035. A second workstream will explore how the railway can better integrate power demand with the electricity distribution network through use of 'energy hubs'.

Lastly the Predict4Resilience project will help us manage increasingly extreme UK weather and its impact on the electricity network. By using improved forecasting, it will develop a fault prediction tool based on anticipated weather conditions - enabling our operational teams to predict issues before they happen and to respond quicker. This will not only strengthen the resilience of the network but will reduce the length of time customers are off supply when a fault has occurred.

Graham Campbell, our Director of Processes and Technology, said: "We are delighted to have been given the green light to progress our Strategic Innovation Fund proposals further, which clearly shows confidence in the potential of those projects to help the UK meet its ambitious Net Zero targets.

"We're proud to be leading innovation across the industry, and to be driving initiatives forward on the decarbonisation of heat and transport in particular, which we know form a large part of the country's greenhouse gas emissions.

"Our focus continues to be on developing solutions that not only help us reduce emissions, but which also improve access to energy markets, help modernise our processes or services, and ultimately enable us to maintain a safe and reliable electricity network for our customers and communities, whilst keeping costs low."

Alan Ross, Director of Engineering and Asset Management at Network Rail Scotland, said: "Establishing this strategic partnership with SP Energy Networks is critical to achieve our aim of decarbonising all passenger services on Scotland's Railway by 2035. By jointly exploring new technologies we hope to accelerate the removal of diesel traction from the railway and reduce our overall carbon footprint.

"Encouraging modal shift of people and goods from road to a decarbonised rail network is critical if Scotland, and the UK, are to meet their Net Zero obligations"

Kind regards,

Stakeholder & Community Engagement Team

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