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London Power Shortage Could Mean No New Homes Till 2035 In Key Boroughs


Three areas of west London face a development blackout after the city’s authority told developers the area’s electricity grid didn’t have enough power for new homes. 

The Greater London Authority has written to developers looking to build in three London boroughs — Hillingdon, Hounslow and Ealing — to say that they may not be able to build any schemes with more than 25 homes until 2035, as the energy grid cannot cope with the extra demand.

According to the letter, which was seen by the Financial Times, the GLA has warned developers that the volume of data centres in the three boroughs had sapped the grid of any excess power it may have had to handle new homes. 

The letter states that power-hungry data centres can use the same amount of power as towns or even small cities, with more than 60 spread across London. 

The GLA letter to developers stated that “data centres use large quantities of electricity, the equivalent of towns or small cities, to power servers and ensure resilience in service”. 

“The Mayor is very concerned that electricity capacity constraints in three west London boroughs are creating a significant challenge for developers securing timely connections to the electricity network, which could affect the delivery of thousands of much-needed homes," a spokesperson for Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said in a statement.

“Sadiq wrote to the Government weeks ago requesting a meeting to discuss electricity capacity in west London but the request was declined. In the midst of a housing crisis, he is calling on ministers to work with him to resolve this issue urgently."

The mayor’s team is also working closely with the network providers responsible to seek solutions to mitigate the potential delays and unlock the issue, the spokesman said. These solutions do not affect planning permission.

One reason for the shortage of capacity is that land prices in London are so high that it has put off investment in new electricity capacity or supply, the FT reported. 

The issue may be exacerbated in coming years as UK households switch their main heating methods away from gas central heating to electric-powered systems, such as heat pumps, and switch petrol cars over to electric vehicles.