Can the Northeast outpace the rest of the UK on ‘Net Zero’? Northern Powergrid floats scenario with 5 million EVs and 4 million heat pumps

Northern Powergrid is preparing to serve up to 5 million electric vehicles and 4 million hear pumps in its area of North East England, Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire by 2050, under a future scenario in which the region beats the rest of the UK to its Net Zero carbon emissions target.
The network operator’s annual Distribution Future Energy Scenarios (DFES) helps Northern Powergrid plan investment in its network, by considering the potential pathways that could secure regional net zero carbon by 2050. It reflects four national future energy scenarios (FES) defined by National Grid, using regional data to give a local interpretation of the national pathways to net zero. But the DNO says regional data pointed to a fifth, ‘Net Zero Early’ scenario with an acceleration of decarbonisation in the region. It would see EVs represnt 96% of vehilces in the region (5 million), 4.1 million heat pumps installed, along with 10GW of local renewable energy and 3GW of battery storage. Energy consumption by industrial and domestic heat pumps would be around 20TWh, compared to EV energy requirement from the grid of around 12.5TWh.
Northern Powergrid wants local authorities, low carbon technology experts, industry leaders and housing and construction developers to review the data behind DFES and share any initiatives or projects that could strengthen its analysis of possible futures. That includes data on the likely uptake of renewable energy generation and storage as well as EVs and heat pumps.
In Leeds for example, the DFES data indicates that in ‘Net Zero Early’ there could be 520,000 electric vehicles on the roads by 2050 and 310,000 heat pumps warming houses and businesses.
Jim Cardwell, Northern Powergrid’s head of policy development, says: “As a regional enabler of decarbonisation we need to know when and where to expect rapid uptake of low carbon technology and renewable energy to plan our network accordingly. Millions of homes and businesses over the next decade will be decarbonising and green policies like the petrol and diesel vehicle ban and heat pump rollout will accelerate this process.
“We need to make sure that the network is ready to facilitate a smooth transition to net zero for the people we serve and accurate DFES data will be a key planning tool. This is why we are asking anyone with low carbon plans to come forward and share this information. By ensuring our data and forecasts are informed by our stakeholders, we can help better plan your pathway to net zero.”
Mary Black, specialist electricity distribution engineer at Northern Powergrid, says “Collaboration with our stakeholders will now be key. All of our data is open and accessible and available via ODI Leeds as we want to encourage public engagement with the numbers, particularly as we see our future business needs evolve from the ‘Planning Scenario’. We hope that this open data will support proactive and open dialogue and encourage our partners and stakeholders to share their views and plans for the coming months and years.”
The scenario is providing the foundations for the DNOs upcoming business plan for the next regulatory price period (2023-2028). Northern Powergrid has worked in close collaboration with partners from Element Energy, the Open Data Institute (ODI) Leeds and Data Mill North to collect, analyse and visualise the data.

Explore the data here on the ODI Leeds website