Building Zero - Gridlocked

Building Zero - Gridlocked 11 April 2022

The built environment is only part of the net zero puzzle. We are seeing an increase in demand for energy due to automation, electric fleets and 24/7 working patterns. This is placing a huge demand on the UK power network (National Grid), which will only increase as the rate of electrification increases.

The Committee on Climate Change has highlighted that the growing reliance on electricity as part of the energy mix leaves us more exposed to power cuts and climate risks. As a result, the importance of having an electricity supply which supports operational resilience, whilst also underpinning the ability to achieve net zero, is a balancing act which organisations need to consider carefully.

The UK electricity grid has evolved significantly over the last ten years, with a move away from a relatively small number of predictable, large-scale, inertia driven power stations to a system where there is a significant proportion of intermittent renewable generation. Whilst largely positive in terms of reducing the carbon intensity of generation, the shift has created numerous issues for National Grid and also for the Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) who provide regional power dissemination.

Prosumer confidence

Advancements in energy generation and storage technologies, decreasing costs and increasing efficiencies, have enabled consumers to take charge of their power needs like never before. ‘Behind the meter’ solutions, where self-generation and storage occurs within the consumer’s own local network without the involvement of the grid, can help to reduce electricity costs and increase energy security – highly prized in 24-hour warehouses and power-hungry datacentres. The two most easily deployable technologies for the industrial sector are solar PV and Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS).

Self-generation and energy storage systems can save costs by deploying self-generated stored power at peak times, while also increasing energy security by decreasing reliance on the grid. As well as cost savings, additional revenue can also be sourced by selling surplus power back to the grid or to other end-users.

Electric avenue

While the technology around hydrogen powered vehicles and HGVs is still yet to be developed; Mobility is undergoing a battery driven electrification revolution. Electric vehicles (EVs) are becoming commonplace, fuelled thus far by consumer demand, but now government legislation is accelerating the trend.

Although their place in the future grid is not yet certain, the rise of the EV is well underway. The infrastructure required to produce EV-specific parts – namely battery making gigafactories – is therefore a key area of growth in the industrial real estate outlook.

By just 2025, the global battery market will be worth over £8 billion, bringing considerable implications for real estate. Landlords may see self-generation and BESS as almost essential, and certainly a number are baking it into their net zero plans.

Our Building Zero report is available here for you to view the full analysis and supporting insights.

What should you do next?

Contact us to discuss how we can guide you through the industrial green revolution.

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