Electricity network constraints and the 2024 New Build Heat Standard: research

Research looking into the network constraints issues associated with the electrification of heat for domestic new build developments. The focus of the work was on connection costs for these developments, how the cost is defined, and apportioned to the relevant stakeholder.

2 Methodology

The project was split into three main work packages, which were carried out in parallel:

  • Literature review
  • Stakeholder engagement
  • Technical modelling

These are described below. The outcomes of these work packages were then combined in consideration of the project questions, which are addressed in Sections 3 to 6.

2.1 Literature review

The aim of literature review was to leverage existing published documents to address the project questions (see

Table 1‑1) and provide context and data for the stakeholder engagement and technical modelling work packages. The literature review focused on four high level topics: standards, industry documentation, heating technology options and related innovation projects. These are summarised in the following sub-sections.

2.1.1 Standards

Table 2‑1 summarises the standards included in this review.

Table 2‑1 List of existing and published standards included in the literature review

Resources reviewed

Relevance in the project

EREC G81 Part 1: Framework for new low voltage housing development installations – Design and planning [1]

This document is focused on the requirements on the electricity sector parties to undertake new connections. The key elements relevant to the 2024 New Build Heat Standard include the need to provide 'efficient and co-ordinated system of electricity supply that is economical and safe'. This has implications on the energy infrastructure requirements for developments.

Energy Efficient Scotland Consultation: Making our homes and buildings warmer, greener and more efficient [2]

This document refers to the requirements on housing developers to make buildings more energy efficient. Many of the specific targets will be superseded by the 2024 New Build Heat Standard, which will legislate for new buildings to become more energy efficient and to adopt zero emissions heating from 2024. The methods by which this will be defined are in development.

Building Standards Regulation & Technical Handbook (Domestic) [3]

This document is focused on ensuring that existing and new buildings comply with current building regulations. The energy requirements legislate for homes becoming more energy efficient and to reduce levels of emission by adopting low carbon technology. Many of the energy requirements will be included in the 2024 standard.

Explanation of the SAP Building Regulation requirements [4]

This document refers to the requirements to make homes more sustainable by complying with regulations in place since 2010 and encouraging more sustainability. The Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) is the methodology used across the industry to ensure homes that are being built meet energy and environmental performance requirements. Levels of performance are defined as Bronze, Bronze Active, Silver, Silver Active and Gold. May of the specific targets will be superseded by the 2024 standards.

2024 New Build Zero Emissions Heat Standard Scoping Consultation [5]

Information was provided about the new legislation that the Scottish Government are implementing. This is going through a number of technical consultations. This document was provided directly by the Scottish Government[1].

2.1.2 Industry documentation on connection charging

The Great Britain (GB) Electricity Distribution license requires large licenced energy network operators to produce a connection charging methodology to describe how new connections are designed and how costs are calculated[2]. The information gathered at this stage provided the background knowledge to support discussions with the network operators in the stakeholder engagement task. The sources included are provided in Table 2‑2.

Table 2‑2 List of connection charging methodologies included in the literature review

Connection methodologies reviewed

Network operator

Connection charging methodology document for connection to Scottish Power's distribution network [6]

Scottish Power Energy Networks (SPEN)

Connection charging methodology document for connection to Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks distribution network [7]

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN)

Connection charging methodology document for connection to GTC's distribution network [8]

GTC (an independent utility provider)

2.1.3 Heating technology options

The study considers commercially mature zero emissions heating technologies that are a likely option for new build domestic developments. Assumptions for heating options have been identified based on the knowledge accumulated from industry experts at Ricardo and from the following sources:

  • The SEAI heat pump technology guide for heat pumps and hybrid heat pumps [9]
  • The case study of Queens Quay district heating network [10]

2.1.4 Innovative project reviews

The innovation project review focused on projects that involve innovations that could support connection of zero emissions heat technologies as part of new domestic build developments. A list of these projects is provided below. The findings from this review are summarised in Section 5, and each project is described in Appendix A4.

  • Spatial Analysis of Future Electric Heat Demand (SAFEHD) [11] is a project to develop optimal heat decarbonisation pathways run by SP Energy Networks and SP Distribution.
  • Heat Street [12] is a project run by UK Power Networks developing an approach to forecasting adoption of energy efficiency measures and low carbon heating solutions.
  • Regional Energy System Optimisation Planning (RESOP) [13] is developing a whole energy system tool for local councils whilst assessing the impact of those plans and the technologies they use on the local electricity network. The project is being delivered by SSEN.
  • Electrification of Heat Demonstration Projects [14] aimed to demonstrate the feasibility of large-scale roll-out of heat pumps in GB. E.ON, OVO Energy and Warmworks undertook trials in different areas of GB.
  • Flexible Residential Energy Efficiency Demand Optimisation and Management (Freedom) [15] was conducted by Western Power Distribution. It demonstrated the feasibility of hybrid heat pumps on the distribution network
  • Cold Start [16] is investigating the technical challenges of restoration of power with high EV and heat pump penetration. The project is being delivered by UKPN.
  • 4D Heat [17] investigated matching electrified heat demand with times of surplus renewable energy that would otherwise lead to curtailment. It was delivered by SSEN.
  • Northern Isles New Energy Solutions (NINES) [18] is being run by SSEN and is introducing methods to use energy storage solutions, such as thermal storage, with active network management.
  • Electrical Heat Pathways: Looking Beyond Heat Pumps [19] is being researched by SSEN into storage heating's place as part of the solution to decarbonise heating.
  • Copenhagen district heating and cooling scheme [20] is an example of a world-leading district heat system
  • Queens Quay [10] district heating scheme is an example of an innovative district heating system based in Scotland
  • ENGIE's harmony project [21] with Enfield Council is an example of district heating system with a modular approach to heat generation

2.2 Stakeholder engagement

The aims of the stakeholder engagement work package were to engage with selected stakeholders in order to explore the processes, decisions and costs involved in establishing energy infrastructure and connections for new domestic development, and the impact of switching to zero emissions heating technologies. The engagement also aimed to collect information and data to inform the technical modelling task. A survey was sent to a group of affordable housing developers.

Table 2‑3 below shows the list of stakeholders that were included in the stakeholder engagement process.

Table 2‑3 List of stakeholders that were engaged during the stakeholder engagement process. The roles listed refer to the roles that are most relevant to the project. For some of the stakeholders, this role represents only a small part of their business.




Scottish Power Energy Networks (SSEN)

Electricity network operator, who owns and operates the distribution network in Central & Southern Scotland

Online interview, provision of data, and email discussions

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SPEN)

Electricity network operator, who owns and operates the distribution network in North of Scotland

Online interview, provision of data, and email and telephone discussions


Independent energy utility who construct, own and operate multi-utility networks across GB

Online interview, provision of data, and email discussions

Last Mile

Independent energy utility who adopts and operates multi-utility networks

Online interview, provision of data, and email discussions

Independent Networks Association (INA)

Independent body which represent the voice of the UK's independent utility providers

Survey response


Independent energy connections provider, who constructs multi-utility network infrastructure

Two online interviews, provision of data, and email discussions

Homes for Scotland

Association for housing developers across Scotland

Online discussion and sharing of contacts

CALA Homes

Housing developers of private developments

Online interview, provision of data, and detailed discussions

Angus Housing Association

Housing developers of affordable housing

Online interview, provision of data, and email discussions

5 respondents

Affordable housing developers across Scotland

Survey responses

Mitsubishi Electric

Heat Pump manufacturer

Online interview


Heat Pump manufacturer

Online interview


Energy Supplier and Innovation specialists

Online interview, provision of information

Ramboll is an engineering, architecture and consultancy company who have been commissioned by the Scottish Government to undertake a related project; Costs of Zero Carbon Heat Research, which explores the operational costs and other implications of operating alternative heating technologies. Ramboll provided notes from their engagement with stakeholders for a separate project and have provided information about their project approach to enable alignment of the projects.

2.3 Technical model

The aim of the technical modelling task was to explore the connection costs for three case study examples given a range of common zero emissions heating options. The technical model case study assumptions and results are described in Appendix A2.

The case studies were selected to explore the breadth of applications and situations that are of most interest to the Scottish Government, including a range of development sizes, locations, and technologies (heating, EV and solar panels). The case studies were designed to align with the scenarios developed by a separate project commissioned by the Scottish Government; Costs of Zero Carbon Heat Research carried out by Ramboll, which explored the operational costs and other implications of operating alternative heating technologies. It is hoped that aligning the case studies will allow the Scottish Government to gain increased value from each of the projects and their findings.

The technical model methodology was based on the following steps:

  • Define the case study developments: This included defining the number and size of dwellings on the development, the location of the development compared to the most appropriate electricity network connection point, and the available capacity and status of the nearby electricity network as a whole.
  • Identify required size of electricity system connection: As well as the location of the development, the costs to provide electricity infrastructure and connection to a development is driven by the required electricity infrastructure size. This is also driven by the number and type of homes to be connected, and the choice of heating technology. The presence of Electric Vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure was also considered.
  • Identify costs to establish the electricity infrastructure for the development: The costs are based on the connection charging methodology of the network operators and represent a range of likely costs to reflect the uncertainty and site-specific nature of the works.
  • Estimate the gas network counterfactual: The model results for the electric heating technologies were compared with a counterfactual case of individual property gas boilers. It is noted that this heating technology does not meet the zero emissions requirements of the 2024 New Build Heat standards but provides a comparator for the other modelled technologies. The gas connection size and costs are based on existing project examples provided by during stakeholder engagement.

The project also identified real development examples to provide context and insight. Whilst these examples are not as complete or tailored as the modelled case studies, they provide learning and insight that supports the findings of the rest of the project and the technical modelling activities.


Email: 2024heatstandard@gov.scot

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