UK-wide, energy regulator Ofgem said it was investing £300m to expand the UK’s electric vehicle charging network. The funding, part of a wider £40 billion commitment, will go towards more than 200 low carbon projects across the UK to help the country prepare for more electric transport.
Scotland’s electricity distribution networks are to receive the investment through Ofgem’s Green Recovery Fund.
The networks, owned by SP Energy Networks in central and southern Scotland and by Scottish & Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) Distribution in the north of Scotland and island regions, are seen as playing a critical role in the country achieving its climate change ambition.
The investment will create just under 200 megawatts of electrical capacity. This is expected to enable up to 500 domestic electric vehicle (EV) chargers, more than 200 rapid or ultra-rapid vehicle chargers, 1,500 domestic heat pumps as well as projects to support the accelerated roll-out of electric buses, electric ferries and electric flight.
SP Energy Networks is to install four main substations, including the construction of a new £6m facility in the centre of Glasgow, creating a “lasting COP26 legacy” by enabling future green developments and the connection of low carbon technologies into the grid.
SSEN will invest £2.7m in the network near Kirkwall in Orkney, to install a new primary electricity substation and 16 kilometres of overhead power lines. Alongside enabling the growth of EVs and heat pumps, the investment will support the development of the UK’s first low carbon aviation test centre at Kirkwall Airport, which will conduct electric flight trials.
Some of the cash will support EV charging for electric buses, emergency vehicles and private cars in Dundee.
Frank Mitchell, chief executive of SP Energy Networks, said: “In the year of COP26, the most important climate summit in five years, being able to invest in these shovel-ready projects that can be delivered at speed will help communities across Scotland take vital steps forward on their journey to net zero.
“We have ambitious plans to revolutionise the distribution network between 2023 and 2028 – we’re going to reinforce or replace hundreds of miles of cables, upgrade more than 800 substations and bring new technologies online to help us manage the increased energy flowing through our grid.
“The projects we have announced today are welcome, but they only represent the tip of the iceberg for our energy networks. Make no mistake, this is an infrastructure project to rival anything this country has delivered in recent memory.”
Chris Burchell, managing director, SSEN Distribution, said: “We are determined to play our full part in addressing the twin challenges of the economic and social recovery from coronavirus and the impending climate emergency, where local electricity networks will play a vital role.
“The green recovery scheme provides a blueprint for future agile investment in our networks in the coming years, where rapid progress will be required to keep pace with net zero.”