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London housing developments delayed due to demand on power from data centres

Image: Adobe Stock / Connect world

The Greater London Authority (GLA) has warned developers that there may be a potential ban on building new housing in west London until 2035 because of lack of electricity capacity – due in part to recent data centre developments in the area.

As reported by the Financial Times, the GLA wrote to developers in the London boroughs of Hillingdon, Ealing and Hounslow, and informed them that it could take up to a decade to boost capacity to a point where new developments can resume.

The GLA said the pressure on the west London grid was down to the development of new data centres along the M4 corridor, making use of fibre optic cables in the area.

“Data centres use large quantities of electricity, the equivalent of towns or small cities, to power servers and ensure resilience in service”, said the GLA.

The delay to new housing developments in the region will only intensify the housing crisis London is currently grappling with.  

SSEN and National Grid have said they are working to upgrade networks to cope with demand, but this could take a number of years.

According to the BBC, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan was “very concerned” about the constraints outlined by the GLA.

A spokesperson for the mayor said, “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 Energy Networks Association said a “quick and concentrated expansion of demand” from local data centres was the cause of the constraints, reports the BBC.

“There is significant collaboration across the industry, National Grid ESO, the Greater London Authority and with the housing developers themselves to address these challenges, but a long-term approach to investment is needed,” the association said.

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