By Paul Homewood
h/t Ian Magness
Homeowners are being charged thousands of pounds to upgrade their electricity supplies so that they have enough power to charge an electric car and run a heat pump.
People trying to switch to greener forms of heating already face costs to install alternatives and improve the insulation of their homes.
Gas boilers and petrol cars are set to be phased out under the Government’s net zero plans.
But environmentally conscious householders are being penalised with eye-watering bills to upgrade their power supply amid concerns about the network’s ability to cope with a growing reliance on electricity, The Telegraph can reveal.
Many older homes in the UK have an electrical service of 60 or 80 amps, but 100 amps is standard for newbuilds and is usually seen as a requirement for anyone who wants to install a car charger. For homes that need even more power, three-phase supplies can be installed.
‘Hang on a minute, my home can’t deal with this’
Gino Pooley, 59, a retired engineer from mid-Wales, enquired about improving his electricity supply to three-phase to enable him to install chargers for his family’s two vehicles and a heat pump.
He was sent a letter from his distribution network operator, SP Power Networks, stating that the work would cost £14,678 and has abandoned plans to install a heat pump.
He said: “Having your first charger, with a gas boiler, it won’t affect you. But it will start affecting people nearer the time when they are going to be really pushed to go electric and [get] heat pumps. Then they are going to start realising – hang on a minute, my home can’t deal with this.”
Laurent Schmitt, the chief executive of smart home startup dcbel, who previously worked on electricity grids in Europe, said most UK households could not handle the electricity demand of car charging and heat-pump heating at the same time.
“If you have your normal electricity appliances, plus an electrical car charging at a decent speed – the standard is around seven kilowatt – plus a heat pump, then you would already exceed this 100 amps,” he said.
Faster car chargers that provide 11kw charging can be installed in 100-amp homes, but there is a risk of putting too much demand on the system if other electrical appliances are used at the same time, leading to blown fuses and blackouts, experts said. Extra chargers add to this risk.
Electric car drivers have also been quoted hundreds of pounds to upgrade their power systems from 60 or 80 amps to 100.
Ben Nelmes, the head of policy at NewAutomotive, a transport research organisation, said: “Some of them will charge an absolute fortune – or worse they’ll refuse to do it.
“People will sign a lease on an electric car, they’ll call up their electricity supplier and say: ‚I want to have an electric car, I want home charging, I need to upgrade my fuse box.‘
“The electricity supplier will then ring up the distribution network operator, and the distribution network operators sometimes say no. And that causes chaos for people, which is really bad – they’re trying to do the right thing and switch to an electric car.”
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JANUARY 3, 2022