Next phase of government project to map the UK’s underground pipes and cables launched

The Government launched the next phase in the building of a digital map of underground pipes and cables today, as the country moves a step closer to revolutionising construction and development in the UK.

The National Underground Asset Register (NUAR), is now entering the Build Phase of the project. Cabinet Office Minister, Lord True CBE, and Mayor of Tees Valley, Ben Houchen, visited industry representatives and asset owners in Darlington for the launch to discuss the current challenges that NUAR will help address.

Over four million holes are dug in the UK each year, many in the wrong place. The economic cost of accidental utility damage is around £2.4 billion each year. Unforeseen ground conditions are a major obstacle to all construction and housing projects, especially on previously developed land. The new digital map of underground pipes and cables will help improve efficiencies in construction and development, reduce disruption and improve workers’ safety.

NUAR forms part of the Government’s efforts to build back better and greener, with tangible benefits, and speed up the delivery of housing and infrastructure projects from design to build. Fast access to this data will save utilities companies and local authorities time and money, and reduce the disruption caused in trying to fix leaks and put in new infrastructure.

Lord True CBE, Minister of State at the Cabinet Office, said:

I am delighted to launch the build phase of the UK’s new National Underground Asset Register. This new digital map of the UK’s underground utilities assets demonstrates our commitment to putting innovation at the forefront of the UK’s economic recovery and ambition to Build Back Better.

The digital map will be built in partnership between industry and government over the next three years, starting in the North East of England, Wales and London. The platform will enable critical and local services, such as gas, water, electricity and telecommunications, to be efficiently maintained and delivered to homes and businesses via the web of cables, pipes and ducts currently beneath our streets.

As the UK government continues to work with local partners in the North East of England on a number of projects, it further demonstrates the integral role the region is playing in utilising the expertise available in all corners of the UK and building on the nation’s levelling up agenda.

Nigel Clifford, Deputy Chair of the Geospatial Commission, said:

Unlocking value from geospatial data is the heart of the UK’s Geospatial Strategy. Our National Underground Asset Register will be a momentous step towards providing the UK with a shared national data asset of significant value. I am proud of the collaboration with industry that we have so far established as part of our preparatory work and look forward to it continuing.

Ben Houchen, Mayor of Tees Valley, said:

I am absolutely delighted that this innovative new map of what lies beneath our feet is being launched and rolled out in Teesside. This new service will mean less mistakes are made when digging holes and less disruption to local people. Across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool we’re making huge strides; we are transforming northern Europe’s biggest brownfield at Teesworks creating thousands of jobs and transforming our economy to a greener future, and this new map will be incredibly helpful.

If you have any questions about the project, and in particular if you are an owner or operator of buried assets, please get in touch via [email protected]

Next generation of heat networks to power UK’s green revolution

Homes and businesses will be made greener as low-carbon energy is today placed at the heart of the latest round of funding for heat network projects across England.

The new £270 million Green Heat Network Fund, announced by the government today (Tuesday, 7 September), will only support low-carbon technologies like heat pumps, solar and geothermal energy in the roll out of the next generation of heat networks which will enable more towns and cities to take up this tried and tested technology from 2022.

Heat networks supply heat to buildings from a central source, avoiding the need for households and workplaces to have individual, energy-intensive heating solutions – such as gas boilers. At present, there are over 14,000 heat networks in the UK, providing heating and hot water to around 480,000 consumers.

Heat networks have the potential to be a cost-effective way of reducing carbon emissions from heating. They are the only way that larger-scale renewable and recovered heat sources – like the heat from large rivers and urban recovered heat, such as from the London Underground – can be utilised.

The previous Heat Networks Investment Project (HNIP) has provided more than £165 million of funding for schemes across England and Wales since 2018.

The new Green Heat Network Fund (GHNF) successor scheme will go even further, with applications only being supported if they include low-carbon heat-generating technologies, such as heat pumps, waste heat and energy from geothermal sources.

The successor scheme is set to play a significant role in kick-starting market demand for heat pumps, which will drive down costs for consumers and delivering a mix of low-carbon heating solutions as we incentivise people to gradually transition away from fossil fuel boilers over the next 15 years.

With heat in buildings being one of the largest sources of UK carbon emissions, accounting for 21% of the total, there is an urgent need to deliver a mix of new, low-carbon heating solutions to meet our legally-binding target to end the UK’s contribution to climate change by 2050.

Energy Minister Lord Callanan said:

Finding a mix of innovative solutions to how we heat our homes in the most affordable way is going to be vital as we support people to gradually transition away from gas boilers over the next 15 years.

Today’s announcement shows we are going even further in our goals to expand this tried and tested heat networks technology, making even more use of the likes of recovered heat from the London Underground to heat our homes.

The Green Heat Network Fund will also allow us to drive forward the new, cost-effective and low-carbon technologies we need to kick-start new industries and support new jobs in the low-carbon technology sector as we build back greener from the pandemic.

Although heat networks currently meet approximately 2% of the overall UK demand for heating, the independent Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has estimated that, with continued support, they could provide 18% by 2050 – which is why the government is driving investment through the Green Heat Network Fund.

The Heat Networks Investment Project had focused on accelerating the growth of the heat network market and has permitted fossil fuel sources of heat provided they offer carbon reductions and will be replaced by low-carbon alternatives over time.

However, the successor scheme will incentivise new and existing heat networks in England to move away from high-carbon sources, as well as exploiting waste-heat opportunities while bringing down costs for consumers.

The Green Heat Network Fund is expected to fund the delivery of an estimated 10.3Mt of total carbon savings by 2050 or the equivalent of taking 4.5 million cars in England off the road for a year.

Also being published today is an assessment of the potential for future heat networks to be sited across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The study identifies opportunity areas that could be best-placed to support future heat network projects and how much heat could be supplied by them.

It identifies areas for district heating in each of the four nations separately across the UK by combining heat demand data and potential sources of waste heat to determine where heat networks could be commercially viable.

Thousands of new solar panels are to be installed in UK prisons

Thousands more solar panels are being fitted to prisons across England to help cut carbon emissions and save taxpayers’ money, Prisons Minister Alex Chalk has announced.

The installations are expected to cut more than 1,300 tonnes of carbon from the earth’s atmosphere and provide 20% of each prison’s electricity – a significant saving as the gworks towards its ambitious net-zero target and a move that will save around £800,000 a year.

In total over 16,000 new ground mounted panels will be switched on across the prison estate, with HMPs Bullingdon, Erlestoke and Wayland lighting the way in the next few months and work ongoing to power the remaining 16 from Spring next year.

Prisons and Probation Minister, Alex Chalk, said:

As we build back safer and greener from the pandemic, our prisons are playing their part in the Government’s ambitious environmental plans.

Alongside our wider sustainable action across the estate, including new all-electric prisons, we will ensure our jails are good for the pocket and the planet.

This unprecedented expansion of solar energy follows the announcement in May that the government’s four new prisons – a vital building block in the drive to create 10,000 new modern prisons places that cut crime – will operate as zero-carbon in the future. 

The prisons will use an all-electric design that eliminates the need for gas boilers and will in time produce net-zero emissions.

Solar panels, alongside heat pumps and more efficient lighting systems will reduce energy demand by half and cut carbon emissions by at least 85% compared to prisons already under construction.

The environmentally friendly drive accompanies wider government action to build back greener with more than £12 billion in green investment to help achieve its net zero commitment.

This will include hydrogen and carbon capture technology, greener homes, electric vehicle charging infrastructure, walking and cycling infrastructure, flood defences and backing offshore wind to power every UK home by 2030.

Notes to editors

  • Ground mounted solar panels have recently been installed at HMPs Bullingdon, Erlestoke, and Wayland.
  • Panels are now being installed at HMPs Eastwood Park, Ford, Guys Marsh, Haverigg, Isle of Wight, Leyhill, Lindholme and Moorland, Littlehey, New Hall, and Onley, Stocken, Werrington, Whatton and Whitemoor.
  • Work is ongoing to facilitate panels at HMPs Bure and Full Sutton.
  • The project will cost around £12 million, to be recouped through annual savings. Combined, the prisons will generate more than 7000kW of capacity per year.
  • The first of the four new prisons will be built next to HMP Full Sutton in East Yorkshire and work is underway to investigate locations for a further prison in the North-West of England and two in the South-East.
  • The MOJ is seeking to achieve the gold-standard ‘outstanding’ rating in Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) for its four new prisons. BREEAM is an independent scheme which assesses the sustainability of infrastructure projects.
  • The UK is a global leader on tackling climate change which is why we’ve committed to reach net zero by 2050.

Wiring Matters (Issue 86) July 2021

This is a look at what’s inside Issue 86 (July 2021) of the IET Wiring Matters magazine.

The framework for energy efficiency in electrical installations

This is Part 2 of Cameron Steel’s 3 part series of articles on energy efficiency in electrical installations.

Setting up a basic electrical maintenance regime

Electrical installations and the components within them are sometimes taken for granted and once installed, have an expectation to provide reliable, continuous service indefinitely.

Hot tubs

The IET has recently received an influx of calls on the helpline regarding the confusion surrounding hot tub installations. In this article, we try and provide clarity by examining the facts available to assist the designer in making an informed decision to avoid finding themselves in hot water.

Back to the Forum – Thermal effects

Discussions on renewable energy have made it to the IET Engineering Communities forum several times recently. Renewable electricity will play a crucial part in achieving ambitious UK Government emission targets, but this will mean an increased maximum demand for electrical installation. In this article, we look at the effects of increased temperature and thermal effects on cables and consumer units.

Arc flash risk management

Details on a health and safety factfile provided by the IET.

View the full Issue 86 (July 2021) of the IET Wiring Matters magazine here

Electric vehicle chargepoints set to become next great British emblem

Electric vehicle chargepoints across the UK could become as recognisable as the red post box or black cab, following the appointment of the Royal College of Art (RCA) and PA Consulting to deliver an iconic British chargepoint design, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced today (9 August 2021).

The design will be unveiled at COP26 in Glasgow this November and could be seen on streets across the country from 2022. The chargepoints will be functional and accessible for all users with sustainability at the heart of the design.

This project gets underway as independently produced statistics from Zap Map reveal there are now over 25,000 public charging devices across the UK – a major milestone, which means that electric vehicle drivers are never more than 25 miles from a chargepoint on UK roads. This comes as recent statistics from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that over one in 6 cars sold in July 2021 had a plug.

In the run-up to COP26, the UK government is calling on countries around the world to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles, which – along with phasing out of coal power and halting deforestation – are crucial to keeping warming to 1.5°C. As part of that, having the right charging infrastructure in place is crucial.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:

Excellent design plays a key role in supporting our transition to zero emission vehicles, which is why I want to see EV chargepoints that are as iconic and recognisable as the British phone box, London bus or black cab.

With less than 3 months to go until COP26, we continue to put the UK at the forefront of the design, manufacture and use of zero emission vehicles and their charging infrastructure, as we build back greener and call on countries around the world to similarly accelerate the transition to electric vehicles.

The rollout will allow chargepoints to be more recognisable for drivers, helping to create awareness around the transition to EVs – and linking them to the iconic British designs of old that are recognised the world over.

Today’s announcement follows the launch of government’s Transport decarbonisation plan, a world-leading ‘greenprint’ published earlier this summer that sets out a credible path for the UK to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 and lead the world in tackling climate change. It also comes alongside an array of government interventions to ensure charging is as easy as, if not easier than, refuelling a petrol or diesel car or van.

Clive Grinyer, Head of Service Design at the RCA, said:

This is an opportunity to support the design of a future icon that will be part of our national culture as we move towards a sustainable future. The RCA has been at the forefront of shaping our products, mobility and services for the last 180 years. We are delighted to be playing a role in the design of the total service experience to ensure a usable, beautiful and inclusive design that is an excellent experience for all.

Warwick Goodall, transport and net-zero mobility expert at PA, said:

We know that excellent design has the power to dismantle barriers to growth and simplify the user experience, making the switch to electric vehicles more attractive, accessible, affordable and secure for drivers.

PA has a strong legacy in product design, which is an integral part of our world-leading end-to-end innovation capability. The combination of PA’s world-class design team and the Royal College of Art brings the creative expertise to reimagine the EV chargepoint as an iconic piece of British street furniture.

We look forward to working together with the public and industry on a design framework that will accelerate the chargepoint rollout ambitions and bring to life the electric vehicle revolution on our streets.

Electric vehicle chargepoints across the UK could become as recognisable as the red post box or black cab, following the appointment of the Royal College of Art (RCA) and PA Consulting to deliver an iconic British chargepoint design, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced yesterday (9th August 2021).

The design will be unveiled at COP26 in Glasgow this November and could be seen on streets across the country from 2022. The chargepoints will be functional and accessible for all users with sustainability at the heart of the design.

This project gets underway as independently produced statistics from Zap Map reveal there are now over 25,000 public charging devices across the UK – a major milestone, which means that electric vehicle drivers are never more than 25 miles from a chargepoint on UK roads. This comes as recent statistics from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that over one in 6 cars sold in July 2021 had a plug.

In the run-up to COP26, the UK government is calling on countries around the world to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles, which – along with phasing out of coal power and halting deforestation – are crucial to keeping warming to 1.5°C. As part of that, having the right charging infrastructure in place is crucial.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:

Excellent design plays a key role in supporting our transition to zero emission vehicles, which is why I want to see EV chargepoints that are as iconic and recognisable as the British phone box, London bus or black cab.

With less than 3 months to go until COP26, we continue to put the UK at the forefront of the design, manufacture and use of zero emission vehicles and their charging infrastructure, as we build back greener and call on countries around the world to similarly accelerate the transition to electric vehicles.

The rollout will allow chargepoints to be more recognisable for drivers, helping to create awareness around the transition to EVs – and linking them to the iconic British designs of old that are recognised the world over.

Today’s announcement follows the launch of government’s Transport decarbonisation plan, a world-leading ‘greenprint’ published earlier this summer that sets out a credible path for the UK to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 and lead the world in tackling climate change. It also comes alongside an array of government interventions to ensure charging is as easy as, if not easier than, refuelling a petrol or diesel car or van.

Clive Grinyer, Head of Service Design at the RCA, said:

This is an opportunity to support the design of a future icon that will be part of our national culture as we move towards a sustainable future. The RCA has been at the forefront of shaping our products, mobility and services for the last 180 years. We are delighted to be playing a role in the design of the total service experience to ensure a usable, beautiful and inclusive design that is an excellent experience for all.

Warwick Goodall, transport and net-zero mobility expert at PA, said:

We know that excellent design has the power to dismantle barriers to growth and simplify the user experience, making the switch to electric vehicles more attractive, accessible, affordable and secure for drivers.

PA has a strong legacy in product design, which is an integral part of our world-leading end-to-end innovation capability. The combination of PA’s world-class design team and the Royal College of Art brings the creative expertise to reimagine the EV chargepoint as an iconic piece of British street furniture.

We look forward to working together with the public and industry on a design framework that will accelerate the chargepoint rollout ambitions and bring to life the electric vehicle revolution on our streets.