The single “phase” electricity supply system, which has been the norm in UK homes since before the Second World War, should be scrapped for new homes, a report has urged. The study, published by the Renewable Energy Association (REA), calls for all new dwellings to be fitted with a three-phase electricity supply to encourage the uptake of solar, heat pumps and electric vehicles. The study, entitled “The feasibility, costs and benefits of three-phase power supplies in new homes”, recommends that the government introduces a requirement that all new homes should have such connections. Network operators currently run three “phases” within the mains cables, but generally only connect each house to one, says the report, which was supported by Western Power Distribution (WPD), the distribution network operator for south-west England, South Wales, and the Midlands. By contrast in other European countries, such as the Netherlands, all three phases connect to each house. This allows loads from different appliances, such as washing machines and lights, to be split across the phases. The installation of three-phase supplies would enable the total load of the house to be distributed over three phases, giving each individual home greater capacity. This would allow consumers to charge their EVs more rapidly, enabling households to gear up for a future when electric cars have longer-range and higher capacity batteries. However, according to the report, distribution network operators (DNOs) are compelled by regulations to install the lowest-cost solutions to the consumer, which acts as a brake on installing marginally higher cost three-phase connections.
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