back to article The UK Energy Crisis in 3 simple awareness-raising pictures

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. If that’s true, we’re about to save you reading 3,000. The UK is running out of gas. Very rapidly indeed. So much so, that shortly after Easter cuts and rationing may be introduced, with industrial users and hospitals getting preferential treatment. This month is the coldest March …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. James 51

    Isn't it Spring now?

  2. Andy Roid McUser
    Joke

    Next Prime Minister

    I laughed out loud when I read that line... Thanks' El Reg. You made me chuckle hard first thing on a Monday morning , something that's normally not possible until at least Thursday.

    Next Prime Minister... .. You guys !!!!!

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Re: I am scared

      That people may actually vote for him!

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Megaphone

        Re: I am scared

        "people may actually vote for him!"

        It seems rare in recent decades for an incumbent opposition leader to still be leader come election time.

        I suspect it's to do with "plausible dependability". Opposition seems to be taken literally. How often does the leader of the opposition (any one , not just the current one) ever agree with the sitting Govt., even if they secretly agree? No, Ed will be there to spout off invective and "oppose" everything while trying to score points with snarky one liners like some amateur stand-up comedian at PMs Questions and then will be replaced when campaigning starts in earnest for the next general election. The incoming leader can then quite safely and plausibly deny any previous policy statements as being from "that other person" and nothing to do with the "new" policies (s)he's putting forward.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Meh

          Re: I am scared

          "people may actually vote for him?"

          Well, that's the problem with the parliamentary model, isn't it?? Actually ONE CONSTITUENCY in Britain (and guess how big a mortal lock for Labor that constituency is) elects this guy and he gets to be Prime Minister because he has risen through the ranks of the party, has his hands on the Whips and other levers of party control and the activists like him. If Labor gets enough seats, Miliband is in.

          It's like saying that the 3/4 of a million people (and probably +-200K of them are voters, and maybe 120K-150K of them vote for the winning candiditate) in a Congressonal district elect John Boehner or Nancy Pelosi to their seat in Congress and that person gets to be both President of the United States and chief legislator as well.

          It's a system that works for Britain, but I wouldn't care to live under it.

    2. batfastad

      Re: Next Prime Minister

      Ray Barone? PM? Really?

    3. Piro

      Re: Next Prime Minister

      Well, nobody's going to vote for the current lot, that's usually how things work in politics. Then again, Ed is a characterless man with no balls. Well, he does have Balls, but him aside, he's not exactly someone who inspires you to tick that box.

  3. Nuke
    Headmaster

    God will Provide

    We joke about the medieval priests who would say "God will provide". We seem to have returned to that attitude (not so explicitly spoken) , what with Green mysticism and creationism. Mrs Thatcher's version (which long outlived her, including into Labour governments) was "The market will provide".

    I worked in the generating industry. During pure Thatcherism (which outlived her as I said) we in the industry bemoaned the lack of national energy policy, while watching the run-down of the existing infrastructure. Now we seem to have a "policy" which is to build windmills and keep raising the price until people almost stop using it. With a policy like that, I think we did better without one.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Where to start rationing

    anyone who has a solar panel and matching juicy FIT. It's not like they need power anyway ....

  5. Lee D Silver badge

    The big question is, really:

    What does this mean?

    Does this mean that we have no gas? (I'm guessing no, in the general sense).

    Does it mean that, in the event of every off-shore connection breaking we would be able to survive a couple of weeks of normal usage and not even notice? (So, erm... is that a big deal when only one of those connections has broken temporarily?)

    Does it mean that we're saving money by not storing all this gas at our end but instead relying on our EU / international neighbours to do it for us? (Which would be a good thing, no?)

    Does it mean we're at a disadvantage compared to any other country? (It's hard to tell from just our data, except with the anecdotal "other countries have more").

    How long have plans been in place to reduce our storage to that much? (it's a voluntary decision, no? We could just buy tons whenever we wanted?)

    Because, just from the stats, none of those questions are answered.

    I'm guessing it means only that if we went to war now, and every EU and other country cut off our gas supply, we'd only have a fortnight of gas rather than a couple of months. Which, on the face of it, seems incredibly unlikely and actually a situation that isn't going to change much anyway - you'll still run out of gas before you can do anything about it, even if you severely limit supply (say, to only essential industry) in order to conserve it. And we'd have MUCH bigger problems to worry about (e.g. petrol, diesel, electricity, etc.).

    And, personally, it's quite possible that we're saving a shed-load of money by not bothering to store quite so much at our end and relying on a constant supply from other countries (and a small emergency reserve) instead.

    Basically, there are lies, damn lies, and statistics. Unfortunately, all we have are some very basic and out-of-context statistics and no actual *explanation*, just some hyperbole.

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Lee D

      "and every EU and other country cut off our gas supply, we'd only have a fortnight of gas rather than a couple of months. Which, on the face of it, seems incredibly unlikely"

      The country risks running out of stored gas by April 8 based on the fall in its reserves seen since the cold hit at the beginning of March, Reuters calculations show.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Down

        Re: Lee D

        And to explain why we are at risk of running out, there is no gas storage in the UK. Most of Europe that uses a lot of gas (Germany in particular) has a lot of gas storage because they always have been dependant upon imports. Because historically the North Sea met all our needs, we didn't have or need storage, and we built none as North Sea output declined (because there's no energy policy).

        We could potentially import LNG, but the problem is that vessels and gas needs to be contracted in advance - there's not some magical surplus capacity in hot standby, and over recent years Asia has offered better prices than the UK. So that won't get us out of this hole.

        I'm not close enough to know how it panned out, but a couple of years ago OFGEM and National Grid came up with changes to interruptible gas suppy rules that looked likely to reduce the number of companies on interruptible gas supplies, meaning less ability to reduce demand in cold spells. I wonder if this supply concern is the outcome?

        More worryingly, the next step that NG might have to take would be to take gas powered electricity generation off supply. At the moment we've probably got the spare coal capacity to make good, but don't worry, people! OFGEM and successive governments are working tirelessly to eliminate that. With 12 GW of coal plant to close as part of the government's kow-towing to the EU's Large Combustion Plant Directive, we might just scrape through this year, but by 2016 we won't survive an extended cold spell. This will be made worse by the commissioning of around 6GW of new gas CCGT which will increase base gas demand. Nuclear won't be built in time to make any difference (ignoring its vast cost), we'll see Wylfa take 1GW of nuclear into retirement soon, renewables will continue to be ineffectual toys, and more gas make us yet more vulnerable to our lack of storage. Even new pipelines to Russia or Norway will take a decade to build, and UK gas storage would take almost as long. Given the number of exhausted gas fields in the North Sea the solution is obvious for storage, but DECC have spent far more energy and money looking at old gas fields as a way to store magically captured CO2 than the obvious purpose of gas storage.

        Now, you can't say Parliament didn't know the issues a decade ago:

        http://www.parliament.uk/documents/post/postpn230.pdf

        What you can say, though, is that they reassured themeselves that all would be well, and instead of tracking the gas situation, they increased gas demand for power generation and paid lots of attention to despoiling the land with windmills. Things are going to get worse and more expensive unless (a) we hang all the civil servants at DECC, and (b) have a government prepared to respond to the EU with "You and whose army?"

    2. Shasta McNasty
      Unhappy

      I'll tell you what it means

      It means the energy providers are going to put their prices up "to cope with unprecedented demand / unseasonable cold / director's wife wants a new car".

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The big question is, really:

      What does this mean?

      Does this mean that we have no gas?

      Think the answer is in 10 days, if usage doesn't reduce before then, we will have no enough gas for all the current demands. The issue is the way storage is used to smooth the supply between periods (summer) where usage is less than potenital supply were the extra supply can be stored so that in other periods (winter and "unusually cold March") where demand is greater than supply then this stored gas can be used to meet the excess demand. The problem is that in the UK we don't have enough storage to cope with a prolonged cold period that we have just had ... I suspect this is due to complacency in the past when North Sea production was more than enough for UK needs so the idea of having to store extra wasn't on the agenda but now that North Sea production is ramping down the situation has changed (and, to be fair, I've heard programs about construction of extra gas storage facilities in recent years). In Europe where they didn't have a pipe from the north sea supplying gas "on demand" they built much larger storage facilities so that they could pre-buy much of their winter needs over the preceding summer from producers like the UK who had more gas than they needed at that time and would off load the excess at a discount price to get rid of it!

      N.b. the root cause for this may have been under-investment in the past because we had enough supply from the north sea and now that that is drying up we've been caught out .... sounds similar to what is about to happen in the electricity supply industry as the previous generation of Nuclear Power stations are decommissioned and we realize that we forgot to build (or didn't have the political strength to build) the next generation.

      Also, perhaps all the people responsible should be taken to see Joseph and his Technicolour Dreamcoat as that covers the concept of storing up excess in times of plenty to use to cover a subsequent time of famine in some detail!

      1. Irongut

        "now that North Sea production is ramping down"

        What gives you that idea? There are still billions of boe of gas available in the southern North Sea gas basin with new fields coming online all the time.

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          What gives you that idea? There are still billions of boe of gas available in the southern North Sea gas basin with new fields coming online all the time.

          Source?

          AFAIK British North Sea gas production has <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peak_gas#United_Kingdom>already peaked</a>.

    4. James Micallef Silver badge
      Holmes

      "Does it mean that we're saving money by not storing all this gas at our end but instead relying on our EU / international neighbours to do it for us? (Which would be a good thing, no?)"

      No, the money that other countries spend on storage is being charged to the UK via higher prices.

      I think the point of the article is that UK supply cannot cope with very high demand levels. Specifically it seems to be a problem with supply rate rather than supply availability but typically with oil/gas the two are linked - there is less flow rate available because the UK is getting close to the end of it's supplies.

    5. Rob 21

      Because we have so little storage, we always buy on the spot price, and when heavy demand continues, we get to find out just how badly we want it, which balances out the cost saving of not storing it in mild weather and low demand. We did this partly because N. Sea gas was abundant and it seemed silly to pump it out, pipe it 100 miles, and store it again. Oh well.

      The most recent decent post on TOD is this:

      http://europe.theoildrum.com/node/6329

  6. Dr_N Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Gas-based energy policy for a country with no (more) natives reserves?

    What morons where involved in that decision?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Gas-based energy policy for a country with no (more) natives reserves?

      You mean apart from the 200 trillion cubic feet under Lancashire?

      The morons haven't gone for a gas based energy policy, they have gone for a wind based energy policy with gas as a reserve. The wind simply can not provide what we need.

      Using other means to generate electricity will not help with those who use gas for heating and cooking.

      1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

        Re: Gas-based energy policy for a country with no (more) natives reserves?

        "The morons haven't gone for a gas based energy policy, they have gone for a wind based energy policy with gas as a reserve."

        Yes, and the "Future Prime Minister" Ed MicroMiliband was the one happily signing us up for the stupid enviro-commitments while he was in the Labourast Government together with his bro.

        1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Unhappy

          Re: Gas-based energy policy for a country with no (more) natives reserves?

          "Yes, and the "Future Prime Minister" Ed MicroMiliband was the one happily signing us up for the stupid enviro-commitments while he was in the Labourast Government together with his bro."

          He didn't sign anything.

          That would be Tony Blair. And despite being told it could be done for electricity but not all UK energy needs went ahead and signed it into law anyway.

          He wouldn't have to implement it and it was a nice ..|.. to Gordo on the way out as well.

      2. Mike Richards Silver badge

        Re: Gas-based energy policy for a country with no (more) natives reserves?

        You mean the 200 trillion cubic feet that may, or may not, actually exist?

        Drilling two wells and claiming 200 trillion cubic feet of gas is a good way of propping up a share price; but it is a long way from proving there is actually 200 trillion cubic feet of gas (for which you need hundreds of wells) and even further from proving there is 200 trillion cubic feet (or even a tiny proportion of that) that is economically viable and can be recovered in a reasonable time.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Gas-based energy policy for a country with no (more) natives reserves?

          According to the Times a leaked report from the British Geological Society is going to put the official estimate at 1300 trillion cubic feet.

          Aside from that the 200 tcf was only from Cuadrilla's Bowland Shale license area and it was the minimum amount there. You also have other operators like Island Gas Ltd, Greenpark Energy, Composite Energy etc who all have licenses for other shale gas areas.

          You also have to consider the nature of the drilling that previous reports are based on. The boreholes were drilled looking for oil and gas. When you drill looking for these you tend to look for hill shaped rock formations and drill at the top. When drilling for shale you look for basin shaped formations and drill at the deepest part. This means that boreholes looking for conventional hydrocarbons tend to underestimate shale deposits.

      3. Dr_N Silver badge

        Re: Gas-based energy policy for a country with no (more) natives reserves?

        "Using other means to generate electricity will not help with those who use gas for heating and cooking"

        I think you'll find if you're not burning gas to generate 'leccy then there's no shortfall for domestic heating & cooking.

        Domestic use of gas isn't the problem:

        40% of UK electricity being generated from gas is the problem.

        1. taxman
          Flame

          Burning Gas = Electricity

          Something that's been getting me seeing red for years now. Stop our mining and investing in burning coal cleanly and use up all the gas that's used by people to heat their homes or cook with on making electricity. Transfroming one form of energy to form another and losing energy during the process of transformation. And where are all these CHP stations that were supposed to have sprung up all over the country?

          That's the problem with past politicians looking at a 'global economy;' and not looking further than the end of their nose.

          And for listening to all these third party 'political' and non-political advisors and experts. You hear me guys in GDS!

          Sooner, rather than later, the walls turn brown!

          1. Caoilte

            Re: Burning Gas = Electricity

            It's more efficient to use gas in homes than in power stations. Gas is an excellent store of energy and you get a lot more power out of burning it in your home than out of burning it in powerstation sending it to your home as leccy (losing 40-60% during transmission) and then turning it back into heat (and losing some more).

            We should stop using gas in power stations. The only reason we do is because it's cheap and easy to throw up a gas turbine whereas it takes years of planning to build equivalent wind turbines or work out where you're going to bury nuclear waste.

            1. MrXavia

              Re: Burning Gas = Electricity

              CHP is what is needed for gas... Combined Head And Power... so much power is wasted in gas....

            2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
              FAIL

              Re: Burning Gas = Electricity

              "sending it to your home as leccy (losing 40-60% during transmission) and then turning it back into heat (and losing some more)."

              Don't be daft. Grid losses are around 2% - 4% (slightly more on the low-voltage grid), and when you turn electricity back into heat you can't lose any, all energy ends up as heat in the end.

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Burning Gas = Electricity

              > The only reason we do is because it's cheap and easy to throw up a gas turbine whereas it takes years of planning to build equivalent wind turbines

              And for every watt of electricity the wind turbines factories can produce you need the equivalent in conventional generation (gas usually) for when the wind dont blow

              1. Wilco 1

                Re: Burning Gas = Electricity

                Which means that every Watt a wind turbine produces is ~2.5Watts worth of gas saved. Easy?

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Burning Gas = Electricity

                  Except they have to use OCGT as backup which is only 66% as efficient as CCGT therefore you end up using more gas than if you had just used CCGT to start with instead of wind.

                  1. itzman
                    Boffin

                    Re: Burning Gas = Electricity

                    No, that is incorrect, we still largely do load balancing with CCGT because running at reasonably decent capacity factors there is not the financial incentive shut CCGT and |to build OCGT plant for occasional peaking use.

                    That may however change when more wind is applied. In addition the determination of how much extra gas we do burn by having more hot standby and spinning reserve to cope with the massive wind fluctuations, which are NOT predictable to within a GW or so even 8 hours ahead..when high winds are expected, is complex and to put it bluntly, no one has done them, or even bothered to do them.

                    You might think it strange that we have a policy predicated on the assumption that every kwh of wind power is a kwh of gas or coal we will save (times putative power station efficiency factors) when everybody knows that whatever the true figure is, its not that. And that furthermore no one has ever made a point of finding out what the true figure is.

                    You might think that. I couldn't possibly comment.

                  2. Wilco 1
                    FAIL

                    Re: Burning Gas = Electricity

                    Not true at all. Just look at the graphs: http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/index.php

                    You can clearly see CCGT following the demand curve and going down dramatically when the wind picked up last Thursday. There is no OCGT at all.

                    And it doesn't make any sense either, you'd only need OCGT for unexpected peaks, while wind and solar are very predictable.

                    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

                      Re: Burning Gas = Electricity

                      Wind's not as predictable as you think.

                      While wind penetration stays low (10% or so), it's fine. Push it much higher and it becomes almost completely unpredictable.

                      1. Wilco 1

                        Re: Burning Gas = Electricity

                        Actually as wind penetration increases, it becomes more rather than less predictable (thousands of turbines give a better "average" than any single turbine does - basic statistics). It does become harder to manage of course - if it is windy too much power may be generated (yes that can be a problem too), and if there is little wind across the UK, you need to find enough capacity of gas/coal and interconnectors to make up for the shortfall.

                  3. Anonymous Coward
                    Stop

                    Re: Burning Gas = Electricity

                    Transmission losses are only a couple percent in an industrialized country. They aren't even 40%-60% in the worst, most corrupt transmission systems.

                    Now, if you are talking thermal efficiency, then yes, 40%-60% of the energy in the gas burned (so on an oversimplified level you could think of it as 40% to 60% of the gas) is lost to radiated heat, incomplete heat transfer and frictional loss during the electrical generation process--but that is not transmission loss.

        2. itzman

          Re: Gas-based energy policy for a country with no (more) natives reserves?

          er over the last three years its been 30%

          mysql> select sum(ccgt)/sum(demand) from day;

          +-----------------------+

          | sum(ccgt)/sum(demand) |

          +-----------------------+

          | 0.301006310097201 |

          +-----------------------+

          And in 2012 with the coalers running flat out to use up their hours it was

          mysql> select sum(ccgt)/sum(demand) from day where timestamp like '2012%';

          +-----------------------+

          | sum(ccgt)/sum(demand) |

          +-----------------------+

          | 0.258664160658894 |

          +-----------------------+

          ...25.8%.

          source: http://gridwatch.templar.co.uk

          That's probably about optimal cost wise. 75% nuclear or coal, 25% gas. 0% renewable. (apart from the smattering of hydro we already have).

        3. John Smith 19 Gold badge

          Re: Gas-based energy policy for a country with no (more) natives reserves?

          "40% of UK electricity being generated from gas is the problem"

          Time to consider more biogas?

          Centrica reckoned it could be good for 40% of UK gas requirements and would make the UK less vulnerable to Russian extortion "negotiation."

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    er.. those graphs don't actually show a big problem, as far as I can tell. reserves fall as people use more gas in the winter and are then (one assumes) rebuilt over the summer when people don't have their heating on and there's less electricity requirement for lighting & etc (I'm also assuming industrial consumption is relatively constant). A pipeline failing is a short term panic (which of course got speculators... speculating) but there doesn't seem to be any medium/long term issue here..

  8. JetSetJim Silver badge

    Well, the Russians and the Yanks are making lots of gas, now, perhaps they'll be good enough to pipe some our way.

    Or perhaps this is a veiled piece to garner support for UK fracking? We seem to have an abundance of water at the moment, at least...

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Russian production is actually stagnant and will be kept that way to maintain prices.

      1. FrankAlphaXII

        And to get cheap access to gas from North America (Canada produces quite a bit too, as does Mexico, its not just the US) the UK's either going to need a transatlantic pipeline hyperproject, or Transocean and the like would need a much bigger fleet of LNG tankers, as well as greatly expanded shore terminal infrastructure to support said fleet. Which also brings up NIMBY concerns. However unlikely it is, one of these terminals exploding in an accident (or something more nefarious) would make the Texas City nitrate explosion in 1947 or the PEPCON explosion in Las Vegas in 1988 look small.

        Either way its not cheap or easy.

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Don't forget that US can't doesn't actually have any terminals that can produce LNG. It has quite a few ones that can accept it rusting on the Gulf Coast with maybe one or two being converted to produce it. However, once they get going then that gas will be sold to the highest bidder and they currently all sit in Asia where the spot price is far higher than in Europe.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Boffin

      @ JetSetJim

      Nobody is going to build a 2500-3000 mile long pipeline under the North Atlantic. I'm not even sure that can be done in an economical manner. If they did, the only pipeline terminus that have enough capacity to make a dent in British demand and are along the Eastern seabord in the Philadelphia-Boston area, and its a LONNGGG run from there to Cornwall or Scotland. That is also the part of North America that traditionally has the most problems with gas supply, since the population density is so high most of the gas is brought there from Texas and the Gulf Coast. Pennsylvania is now becoming a major shale oil and gas producer though, so there is a new local supply to draw from, but I am not sure how much. Still you'd probably have to upgrade the pipeline infrastructure from the Gulf Coast to the Northeast if you were going to ship to Britain by pipeline.

      LNG terminals would be a way to go. The U.S. and Canada certainly have the gas to export, even without tapping potentail large shale gas reserves that are still undeveloped in New York and California.

      Obviously, none of this is going to help Britain within the next 2 weeks unless someone has a suitable tanker lying around and the export and import terminals are ready.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The politicians have prioritised accordingly. ®

    By that I assume you mean;

    The politicians have invested in energy and energy supply companies accordingly. ®

  10. Steve Crook

    Not according to Beddington.

    On Today BBC R4 this morning he was asked about the cold wet weather we've had and how the forecasts were for warmer and drier. He couldn't bring himself to deal with it and only wanted to talk about extreme events, so he ignored the question.

    Which is exactly what I'd expected. I don't have a problem with forecasts being wrong, but these were handed to us with the full authority of the scientific establishment and were given the weight of being near incontravertible fact. Poicy was based on them, why else did we run out of salt when we had the first cold winter à couple of years ago.

    1. Zolko Bronze badge
      Holmes

      Re: Not according to Beddington.

      What I've read is that a global warming would cause the Gulf-stream to weaken, thus causing locally in Atlantic-Europe a cooling. Therefore, the cool winter in Europe is not at odds with global warming.

      1. James Pickett

        Re: Not according to Beddington.

        According to the Grauniad (and other warmology sites), the current cold is a result of the Arctic warming up. I'm not sure I follow this logic, but one flaw is that the Arctic is cooling quite rapidly at the moment, although I dare say it will warm by the summer and might even melt a bit. Like it usually does.

        When "the climate is behaving normally" becomes newsworthy and is not a bar to research grants, we may get some sensible advice and policies...

      2. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Not according to Beddington.

        I'd be much more impressed if your excuses were generated BEFORE the incidents they refer to rather than after.

        At the moment we have:

        1970s and the temperature drop - We're all going to die in an ice age

        1980s and the temperature rebounds - We're all going to die from something else - chlorofluorocarbons?...

        1990s and the temperature goes up - We're all going to die from the heat

        2000s and the temperature rise halts - We're STILL going to die from the heat (after fiddling the figures)

        2010s and the temperature starts dropping - We're going to die from...er, um.. the climate changing!

  11. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. James Micallef Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Fortunately I live <2km away from a 100MW hydroelectric power plant

      "PutinGazprom starts cutting off Europe's gas supply "

      That IS a strategic concern for Europe, however Russia is also highly dependent on EU money that pays for that gas. So Russia will only use that card if there is a huge crisis, not for 'day-to-day' disagreement.

      1. Flatpackhamster

        Re: Fortunately I live <2km away from a 100MW hydroelectric power plant

        A crisis such as the EU helping itself to the Cypriot banks which are full of laundered Russian money?

        1. Zolko Bronze badge
          Flame

          Re: Fortunately I live <2km away from a 100MW hydroelectric power plant

          there might be more to Russian money than that: what if the Russian money in Cypruss was actually that of oligarch opposed to Putin ? In that case, the Eurozone is helping Putin (by getting rid of his opponents) and thus assuring the future gas supplies.

          It wouldn't help "democracy" but since when does the EU care about such annoyances ?

  12. gbru2606

    Leaky

    Leaky common brick homes abound and will continue to. Cavity insulation causes damp, and subfloor is often shallow and very, very cold. Ode for a minister who could put trades to work retrofitting all these properties, house by house, street by street. Perhaps with subfloor and external wall insulation on Northern and Eastern aspects to start with. But that's bot how things are done here, is it? Actually paying ordinary people and businesses to develop new skills and roll out cutting edge technology to deliver solutions.

    No point in relying on the green deal (with the energy companies acting as bankers and collecting interest on energy saving measures); nor on the construction industry's shameful record on the energy consumption levels of new-builds of the last decade-the boom years of wasted opportunities. And as for the cost of smart meters? Poor old Blighty eh, always putting it's coppers in the same old industries pockets. Plus ca change...

    1. Crisp

      Re: Leaky

      You're right about the damp (and the inevitable mould that comes along with it).

      I live in a flat converted from an old pre-war house designed to be heated by two fireplaces. But someone, for some unknown reason, decided to cap the chimney. So now I'm trying to heat my home with a gas fire. Which, because of the price of bottled gas, I can only afford to run in one room at a time.

      Now this creates a massive temperature gradient across the whole flat. The gas heater with no real exhaust on it creates a fair bit of water vapour as a by product of burning the gas. Which in turn travels to the colder rooms in the house, condenses on the wallpaper, which starts it peeling, providing a great home for mould.

      /rant

    2. Nuke
      Facepalm

      @gbru2606 - Re: Leaky

      gbru2606 wrote :- "Cavity insulation causes damp, .... Ode[sic] for a minister who could put trades to work retrofitting all these properties Perhaps with ... external wall insulation"

      Of course, external insulation will not get damp, and bring it into the house structure like a wet cold poultice, will it? It is not like it is outside exposed to the rain, flakily covered some flimsy plastic layer, and fitted by the same sort of cowboys who do the cavity wall insulation, is it?

      1. gbru2606

        Re: @gbru2606 - Leaky

        Heat exchange fans after external insulation?

      2. gbru2606

        Re: @gbru2606 - Leaky

        Or you could put 100 mm insulation on the internal side - you'd still have bigger rooms than you'd bet on a new build :-)

  13. IronSteve

    Good thing they just secured more from the US so...

    http://www.breakingnews.ie/text/business/ojidsnauqlcw/

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  14. jungle_jim
    Joke

    If we run out of gas

    Then I predict a spike in the number of babies born. January 2014

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If we run out of gas

      Yes, it is a brilliant master stroke, when "they" decided to use gas to solve our problems:

      1. let people make babies (with fertility rate so low in Europe, and 10 million Chinese born every day, etc.)

      3. kill off the wrinklies (saving the budget now and for many years to come).

      What's not to like?

      1. Nuke
        Headmaster

        @AC (11:24) Re: If we run out of gas

        AC wrote :- "let people make babies (with fertility rate so low in Europe)"

        Recognising your irony, the population level is part of the problem. Whatever the fertility rate, because of immigration the UK population keeps on rising (don't know about the rest of Europe - perhaps going down in the East where many come from). We are now well beyond the point of self-sufficiency in energy (and much else), leaving us depending on the whim and price-setting of other nations who have us over a barrel at the moment.

        Funny you never hear politicians talk about such strategic considerations - only about the latest scandals and short-term issues.

        I understand that we can supply ourselves with only 75% of our gas needs, and we also import electricity through the Channel links. Meanwhile we have shut our coal mines.

  15. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    The solution

    to this problem is fracking simple...

    1. Crisp
      Coat

      Re: The solution

      We build a BattleStar?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        re: We build a BattleStar

        yes! maybe those martians have gas we can have....

        1. Crisp

          Re: re: We build a BattleStar

          Or they might have some Tylium we can borrow.

  16. Perpetual Cyclist

    Too right we are running out of gas.

    UK North Sea production of gas peaked 13 years ago. It has been in steady precipitous decline ever since and has now declines to less than a third of its peak production, and is likely to decline a lot further in the next decade, regardless of onshore fracking, which will not be cheap or extensive enough to save our bacon.

    We are in the middle of decommisioning most of our coal and nuclear power stations, and no new ones will be built for at least a decade. We import most of the coal we burn anyway, and we import nuclear powered electricity from France.

    We also import an increasing percentage of the oil we consume. We even import wind generated electricity from Denmark. Sterling has devalues 10% in the last year. That is 10% on our bills straight off.

    Add to that that global supply of oil has peaked, more or less, and the price has increased 5 FOLD in the last decade, and we are now competing directly with Japan and Germany for LNG imports at twice the price of North Sea gas, and China is buying an ever larger fraction of world coal exports, we are up the energetic creek with an empty fuel can for outboard motor.

    We do have one small glimmer in this cloud. Wind turbines have been producing a continuous 5GW of electricity for the last 3 days in this stiff NE wind that has been freezing us. Without that exta power we would already be facing powercuts.

    1. horse of a different color
      Mushroom

      Re: Too right we are running out of gas.

      If it gets too cold, perhaps we can all go down to Westminster and set fire to some politicians?

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: Too right we are running out of gas.

        > If it gets too cold, perhaps we can all go down to Westminster and set fire to some politicians?

        Too wet to burn, I fear.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Too right we are running out of gas.

      UK North Sea production of gas... has been in steady precipitous decline

      Could you explain to me how something's decline can be simultaneously steady and precipitous ??

      Precipitous:

      extremely or impassably steep

      Synonyms

      abrupt, sheer, perpendicular.

      Steady:

      even or regular in movement

      free from change, variation, or interruption; uniform; continuous

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Precipitous vs Steady

        They are not mutually exclusive as they refer to different attributes of the slope - steepness vs regularity/uniformity

        A uniform/unchanging steep/sheep slope is both 'steady' and 'precipitous'.

        Likewise you can have a steady shallow slope, an unsteady shallow slow, or an unsteady sheer slope.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Precipitous vs Steady

          Yes, but if the slope (of North Sea Gas production) had been precipitously downwards for 13 years (as alleged), it would have gone negative ages ago

      2. itzman
        Headmaster

        Re: Too right we are running out of gas.

        easy. steady means uniform, precipitous means steep, So uniformly steep. Like a ladder leaning against a wall..

    3. David Pollard

      Re: Too right we are running out of gas.

      Had we continued with nuclear energy we could have had much more than 5 MW. Not just for the last three days, when the wind started to blow again, but at 80% or better capacity continuously.

      One of the reasons why the UK is close to running out of gas is that it's used to generate electricity during the two days out of three when there isn't enough wind.

      http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/

      1. Wilco 1
        WTF?

        Re: Too right we are running out of gas.

        If we didn't have the 5GW wind capacity we would have run out of gas weeks ago. It's not just the last 4 days were wind power was close to 100% continuously and produced record amounts of electricity (when will we see a story on El Reg about that?), but the last few months were extremely good as well.

        Blaming a potential future gas shortfall on wind power when wind power in fact saved us from gas shortages in the first place is spin one could expect from some with an agenda, but making those claims when it is especially windy right now and has been for months is absolutely unbelievable!

        1. itzman
          Alert

          Re: Too right we are running out of gas.

          I wondered how long before some total ***wit would say 'saved by wind' with a straight face.,

          How much gas really, has that wind saved us over the last three months? with ccgt stations being asked to perform like traffic light racers to compensate for its wild and unpredictable fluctuations?

          Why is Denmark, with at least 30% wind on its grid, still one of the highest CO2 emitters per MWh in Europe?

          Why is Germany, with at least 30% wind and solar on its grid, still one of the highest CO2 emitters per MWh in Europe?

          Why are France and Swizterland with nearly all nuclear and a nuclear/hydro mix, respectively, among the two lowest CO2 emitters per MWh in Europe?

          Short answer? ideology isn't engineering.

          1. Wilco 1
            FAIL

            Re: Too right we are running out of gas.

            CCGT is already doing daily demand curve: http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/index.php

            If you look at the graphs, wind power simply shifts the CCGT curve downwards (ie. we burn less gas). It doesn't change the difference between daily peaks and throughs at all. Also wind power looks highly predictable and changes quite slowly. For example the ramp up from low wind to maximum wind power (1-5GW) took about 16 hours. 0.25GW/h is quite slow compared to how fast demand changes constantly.

            Germany, UK, Denmark and many other countries use mainly coal for baseload. That's extremely polluting indeed - can you imagine how bad it would be without wind power? It can be improved by replacing dirty coal with a mix of renewables, gas and nuclear.

        2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          WTF?

          Re: Too right we are running out of gas.

          "It's not just the last 4 days were wind power was close to 100% continuously and produced record amounts of electricity "

          Is that 100% of 24 hours in a day or 100% of the usual 26% of the time that onshore wind is expected to run for.

          Not trolling just being clear on the baseline you're using.

          1. Wilco 1

            Re: Too right we are running out of gas.

            I meant 100% of max capacity, it stayed above 5GW for 4 days, a lot more than the 26% average. As far as I can tell it's a new record for the UK. You can see it in these graphs: http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/index.php

            1. Wilco 1

              Re: Too right we are running out of gas.

              I found an article on the record: http://www.renewableuk.com/en/news/press-releases.cfm/2013-03-23-record-breaking-day-for-wind

    4. cnapan

      Re: Too right we are running out of gas.

      "We do have one small glimmer in this cloud. Wind turbines have been producing a continuous 5GW of electricity for the last 3 days in this stiff NE wind that has been freezing us. Without that exta power we would already be facing powercuts."

      What is the country coming to when we're having to rely on base-load from effing wind turbines. Oh well, let us all pray that these fickle objects continue to receive just the right amount of wind.

  17. John Arthur
    Happy

    Maybe not quite as bad as it's being painted

    http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/03/25/uk-britain-gas-price-idUKBRE92L07J20130325

    1. Aldous
      Big Brother

      Re: Maybe not quite as bad as it's being painted

      Who knew Trinidad was a player in the Gas industry? Looks like the pipeline from Belgium is working again as well .

      Nothing to see here, everything is fine and if anyone objects they are a planet killing Nazi (hi Godwin!) who wants to kill your precious children....

      If they got cold fusion working tonight the powers that be in the UK would still object and build windmills anything that is not mud hut and hairshirt is evil!

      1. Mike Richards Silver badge

        Re: Maybe not quite as bad as it's being painted

        'Who knew Trinidad was a player in the Gas industry?'

        Trinidad has lots of hydrocarbons; including a groovy asphalt lake and mud volcanoes.

        http://www.richard-seaman.com/Travel/TrinidadAndTobago/Trinidad/PitchLake/

  18. MJI Silver badge

    What did Millipede say?

    I am not clicking on some NSFW Millipede clip, so can we have a summary of what he was spouting off.

  19. Mike Richards Silver badge

    This privatised energy market really is delivering isn't it?

    They've had decades to build gas storage facilities and instead spunked money and effort on developing credit cards, buying the AA and DynoRod only to sell them off shortly after.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Nail on head

      Of course, the uncertainties of energy policy over the last 20 years haven't really encouraged investment, but what you say is the main problem.

  20. Bluenose
    FAIL

    Is the author a gas trader?

    So we have three graphs to purport to show the UK running out of gas; unfortunately that is not what they show at all.

    The gas network as operated by our own National Grid is designed to work with a specific volume of gas exerting a level of pressure to ensure that the gas flows around the network. If there is a problem with the pressure then then accidents can happen (like explosions) if to high or the gas will stop flowing if the pressure is to low. This creates a problem for National Grid in that large gas users in industry can be cut off from the gas supply network but people like me (ordinary consumers) can't be cut isolated from the grid and an unreliable supply is likely to cause me and my home problems. Therefore to manage the pressure a certain quantify of gas is required to be stored in order to maintain a safe pressure in the gas network. These charts deal with that problem and not the supply of gas for use.

    The gas network receives supplies from a number of sources e.g. the pipeline from Norway (currently providing 113 mcm/day) as well as Belgium and the shipments in to the UK's LNG terminals. Therefore the imports are used to a)feed the gas network and b)the storage facilities used in the safety monitoring system. As the pipes from the continent can be directly connected to the UK gas network then the flow of gas is maintained.

    The UK was never in danger of running out of gas. Three shipments are due before the 3rd April 2013 and as the charts show, the cycle of demand v deliverability works around a 1st of the month pattern of peak and run down as gas is used to maintain the pressure and then replenished. If these charts really showed the gas storage for the UK then according to that interpretation between Christmas and New Year the whole gas network would have shut down and there would have been no Christmas lunch (the chart shows no gas in that period).

    Suggest people go on Yahoo which reports the deliveries and flow of gas from the continent has caused a 10-12% fall in trading prices of gas today as there is no lack of gas in the UK following the forecasted three deliveries, one or two of which are going to an underused facility called Dragon in Wales.

    People need to read the detail plus backing information and not just the headlines.

    1. Thought About IT

      Re: Is the author a gas trader?

      Probably not, but he does have an obvious agenda. In pursuit of that agenda, a wave of propaganda was unleashed after the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 to make it politically impossible to constrain greenhouse gas emissions. That's been so successful that we now have the predicted extremes of weather that leave us short of energy.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Is the author a gas trader?

        Did these 'predicted extremes' include snow in spring? I though they were for floods/rain/hurricanes and general temperature rises. If so, the 'I told you so' is at best premature.

      2. itzman

        Re: Is the author a gas trader?

        burn a polar bear then. You know it makes sense.

    2. Mayhem

      Re: Is the author a gas trader?

      Agreed. I also liked the implication that the tanker arriving was some form of urgent relief, and not as in reality a regularly scheduled service planned (and paid for) several months ago.

      Large LNG Tankers aren't exactly something for which you can phone up Crazy Ahmed's Gas Emporium down in Qatar and ask for another shipment for delivery on Friday.

  21. JaitcH
    FAIL

    The gas providers fix the market and how to reap excess profits

    There is little difference between the various gas consuming markets except in the way are run and the rules governerning them. The charts are interesting, as things were proceeding on goal until mid-January. So why would the storage facilty operators not start pumping more gas in to the ground?

    From what I understand there is a damn great direct feed from a monster tank farm off Norway, as well as feeding Europe through separate feed connectors. So was the Norwegian farm 'head' failure a manufactured failure? A fix? After we all are dealing with oil/gas men who don't enjoy the best of reputations.

    This is a typical gas supply system, one duplicated the world over. We have several of them in Canada and they have never failed on such a massive scale. There would heads flying and contracts being r,ipped up.

    The people running UK government obviously favour energy 'providers' so little will happen other than the public gets shafted again as Cameron awards the fat-cat gas business 'emergency' gas rate increases to cover these 'losses' and then, all of a sudden, the 'emergency' will fade.

    Any emergency increases should be refused and the money should be from fuel pigs profits.

  22. bill 36
    Devil

    where i live

    Gas comes in bottles and is used exclusively to drive a deep fat fryer and a steam oven.

    Cooking is done using induction plates, very efficient !

    Lights are all low energy bulbs

    Heating and hot water is supplied from an non profit organisation using a wood pulp burning boiler and supplies a whole village of ~ 1800 people. Costs around 5.6 cents kw/h.

    As for the snow,the position of the jet stream is responsible for Europes cold weather this year, dragging cold air south from the Arctic and therefore snow and blizzards are always going to happen.

    The UK is over dependant on fossil fuels and requires a complete change of mindset including, and i can't recommend this highly enough, the fitting of winter tyres by law on every vehicle and the mandatory carrying of snow chains as is the norm in most of Europe. Then you start to minimise bad weather chaos that is the norm in GB.

    Thorium is the way forward.

    1. TeeCee Gold badge
      Meh

      Re: where i live

      ...the fitting of winter tyres by law on every vehicle and the mandatory carrying of snow chains as is the norm in most of Europe.

      Er, you can count the number of European countries where it's mandatory to fit winter tyres on the fingers of one hand........and have enough fingers left over to count those where it's mandatory to carry snow chains.

      1. bill 36

        Re: where i live

        Eh,,,,,,,,,

        last time i looked you would have one finger left. Most others say that chains must be carried.

        The point is that below 7 degrees, summer tyres become very inefficient and where it is mandatory, having two sets of wheels is no big deal.

        According to the Met office, the average winter temperature across the UK in 2011/12 was 4.2 degrees.

        But don't let the facts get in the way of a good bit of chaos eh?

    2. Anonymous Blowhard

      Re: where i live

      Winter tyres are optimised for low temperatures and speeds; at higher temperatures and speeds they will just wear out really fast. Some designs of winter tyre also use metal studs, these are not good for roads if there's no snow or ice (like 80% of the UK winter)

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snow_tires

      The problem with the UK is that, in winter, one day it's -5C and the next it's +10C; and there is rarely a solid covering of snow. So it's not practical to fit a winter tyre. You'd end up having to swap tyres twice a week or halfway through a journey from North to South (or vice versa depending on which half has snow).

      I work for a Scandinavian company, and the places where it is compulsory to fit winter tyres have constant low temperatures and snow coverage for extended periods of the year.

      1. itzman

        Re: where i live

        It is however practical to fit all terrain tyres that will give a reasonable all year round performance and be pretty good on snow ..which I did. The the rear of the freelander. Nasty moment when travelling a leetle to fast on 6" of snow.. and the back gripped but not the front.

        From now on, all terrain all round. :-)

  23. MrXavia
    Mushroom

    Build Nuclear

    Only option we have... Build Nukes, we HAVE the technology, so why don't the gov just bite the bullet and pay for it? surely compared to our massive aid budget. building nuke power stations is a good investment!!

    IIRC there was a new paper published recently about a molton salt reactor, minimal waste with that design, so get it built, use UK labour where possible (preferably british passport holders to encourage the money spent to STAY in the UK).....

    Much easier to transport a few tons of Uranium to a reactor than it is to transfer the gas we need for power....

    1. Wilco 1
      Facepalm

      Re: Build Nuclear

      Didn't you hear? The UK recently decided to build new nukes. Don't expect to see a story about it on here though as it shows the true cost of nuclear: £14 Billion for just 3.2GW. And electricity from it is going to cost twice the market rate, on par with off-shore wind power.

      Thorium, molten salt etc all looks interesting to research further, but even if it works (and I hope it does as we do need simpler fail-safe designs), the question is whether it is going to be cost effective. Especially given that old-fashioned nukes are already expensive before even considering the waste.

      1. MrXavia
        Holmes

        Re: Build Nuclear

        I agree with many of your points, BUT, Cost is almost irrelevant IF the cost is funnelled back into the UK economy, just use UK Owned companies, British engineers, British scientists, British cleaners.... we might be in a global economy, but unless we don't have the skill set available, I think it should be a requirement for any large project such as this to use a home grown workforce as much as is possible. and if it is on par with Wind, why consider wind? it is ugly and takes up space.... Nuclear is small & manageable...

        Spend £14Billion out of government coffers on a large project such as this, keep the money going into UK resident hands, and you would be surprised at just how much goes right back into the government purse the very same year... Although I'd like a not for profit organisation to run new nukes..

        As for the radioactive waste, only idiots would think of burying the byproducts.. If it is radioactive enough to be a hazard, then it is radioactive enough to be useful! Reprocess, repurpose and reuse!

        I do agree that the other reactors are still experimental or theoretical, but we need to invest in fission reactors, not just the pie in the sky Fusion....

        1. Wilco 1

          Re: Build Nuclear

          I don't agree cost is irrelevant even if all of it is funnelled back into the UK economy - it still means higher electricity bills for all consumers. And if costs were not an issue for nuclear, then it shouldn't be an issue for solar/wind either.

          Wind turbines are far simpler to design and build, and it's much easier to get planning permission. A nuclear power station takes several decades from planning to operation, while a wind farm takes a few years at most.

          As for nuclear waste, we have tried and abysmally failed at reprocessing. Precisely because it is very radioactive, it's very dangerous, expensive and polluting. Do you have any idea how many kilograms of plutonium were "lost" at Sellafield? So rather than reprocessing, we need reactors that can burn existing waste and produce very little of their own. And that needs more research.

          1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

            Re: Build Nuclear

            How KGs of plutonium lost at sellafield?

            Lets see.. you have a fuel rod weighing in at 2 kg thats been in a reactor for 5 yrs, depending on the power load put on the reactor over those 5 yrs and the position of the rod in the reactor you may have 1 gram of plutonium or 1.0001 grams (example figures only) so on average a rod has 1.00005 grams and theres no way to tell if theres more or less in a rod until its been reprocessed, so you can end up with say 1 tonne of plutonium expected after processing lots of fuel rod or 1 tonne and a kilo.....

            As for actually getting more nuclear stations built.... until you deal with a planning process that lets everyman and his dog have a say no matter where they are in the country, the 'green' movement will delight in clogging up any inquiries into building anything right upto the point where the mob , fed up with the constant blackouts, breaks into the 'green' party's HQ and uses its members to light the streets roman style.....

            1. Wilco 1
              FAIL

              Sellafield disaster

              Boris I am not talking about small inaccuracies here but about enormous amounts of radioactive material leaking into our environment. Let's just consider plutonium. For example ~200 kilos of plutonium was dumped in the Irish Sea. Plutonium was found in unfiltered air ducts in various buildings. Around 1300 kilos are thought to be in the leaking open pool "dirty thirty". Nobody actually knows how much radioactive material it contains - radiation around it is so high one cannot get near it for more than a few minutes. It'll cost many billions to clean up just that open air pool. Total cleanup cost of Sellafield is £67.5 Billion: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cumbria-21298117 Yes, that's several thousand pounds for every tax payer.

              If that sounds like a safe and successful way to reprocessing waste to you then I don't know what to say. And you are surprised that many people are against nuclear power? Seriously, read up on the facts before posting ridiculous nonsense about killing the very people who actually care about our environment: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sellafield

              1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
                WTF?

                Re: Sellafield disaster

                1300 kilos of Pu in that pool...

                a quick google gives Pu at $4000/gram so theres somewhere in the region of $5.2 BILLION dollars worth of Pu in that pool.

                Heck I'd drive a sheilded JCB in there and scoop the stuff out myself for that price.... what I suspect is theres 1300 kilos of waste there of which Pu has a small fraction...

                1. Wilco 1
                  Happy

                  Re: Sellafield disaster

                  No there are many tonnes of stuff in that pool, mostly from Magnox reactors. One single reactor generates 25 tonnes of highly radioactive waste containing ~300kg of plutonium per year. Yes, that's a lot more than you thought, right?

                  So the 1300kg is just the actual plutonium that might be there. Lots of it has now corroded into radioactive mud on the bottom as Magnox reacts with water. And it is going to cost a lot more than $4000/gram just to get it out of there. So I wish you good luck with that JCB!

                  Btw I guess you didn't know the UK is sitting on a stockpile of 112 tonnes of high grade refined plutonium, worth... absolutely nothing. Nobody wants it, we can't even PAY other countries to take their own plutonium back! We could make a killing on it by selling to North Korea for $4000/g...

      2. itzman

        Re: Build Nuclear

        well offshore wind which delivers 25% of its capacity works out a £3bn a GW* and lasts at best 10-15 years. And it needs additional fossil fuel capacity to back it up. And additional grid capacity to handle peak flows when occasionally the wind does blow hard.

        Nuclear - even at £4.375bn a GW is way cheaper at 85% - 90% capacity factor and a 60 year life span.

        But hat is of course EDFS negotiating position. Even Okiluoto is only coming in at around £3bn a GW. And Hitachi will sell you reactors a lot cheaper than that.

        Assuming you can count beyond ten without taking your socks off, of course.

        *The quoted installed cost of the London (offshore) Array.

        1. Wilco 1
          FAIL

          Re: Build Nuclear

          Off-shore in the UK achieves 32% capacity factor (Denmark is ahead here with several farms doing 44-52% and a 40% average). Greater Gabbard achieves 40% and costs about £1.3 Billion/GW for the turbines - quite a lot cheaper than a nuclear power station. Turbines last for 20-25 years and existing 20 year old farms are still going, so 30 years seems achieveable. No additional capacity is required as power stations already exist, they just have to work less hard, in particular burn less gas - every Watt produced by a wind turbine saves about 2.5 Watts of gas.

          Note the electricity cost of Hinkley C is twice the market rate, on par with off-shore wind power.

          1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
            Meh

            Re: Build Nuclear

            "No additional capacity is required as power stations already exist, they just have to work less hard, in particular burn less gas - every Watt produced by a wind turbine saves about 2.5 Watts of gas."

            The problem is not that wind cannot reduce gas consumption (like most other renewables, including biogas).

            It's that it cannot do it reliably. Calm wind can persist for weeks over the whole of Europe

            Without a very diverse set of renewables (with the support infrastructure, including the necessary energy market mechanisms) to take up the slack and handle many small(ish) generators this plan is doomed.

            Yes the UK has windy sites, but it's also got tidal, wave, micro hydro, geothermal (every well in the North Sea, of which there are several thousand, could generate 500-1000kw) and biogas resources.

            All of them are more reliable than wind, but they are a bit complex to explain to thickies ministers.

            BTW You are aware that roughly 20% of the UK's electricity is nuclear generated and most of that is due to go out of date over the next next 5 years or so?

            1. Wilco 1

              Re: Build Nuclear

              Calm winds will still produce some power with the latest low-speed turbines. Yes it is true you will need CCGT to supplement wind when that happens, but why is that an issue? I don't understand why we would be doomed if we need to burn more gas (or even coal) occasionally. Even using cheap/inefficient OCGT generation for a few total wind still days a year would be fine.

              I agree we should diversify renewables far more than we have done so far. That will improve the stability from renewables and further reduce gas/coal usage. The main issue is that most are not as well developed as wind turbines and are often more expensive (the Severn barrier is a huge investment for example, but one we may be forced to do anyway). We should also ensure every new building must have solar PV+thermal panels - the additional cost on a new building is low as panels have become cheap.

              About 3.4GW of nuclear power will be decomissioned in the next 6 years, which is replaced by Hinkley C in 2020. It's 2023 before another 5GW goes offline (although extensions to 2030 are expected).

              1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
                Meh

                Re: Build Nuclear

                " I don't understand why we would be doomed if we need to burn more gas (or even coal) occasionally. "

                Because it will not be occasionally. As many have pointed out on this and other threads the target for onshore wind is 26% and offshore is 30% That's a little over 6 hrs in every 24 or 8 hrs in every 24 running. The expected situation is that A.N. Other power source will pick up the slack the other 16-16.8 hrs a day. Which sounds like a lousy use of that money.

                The reason you're so impressed by the figures for the last few days is they are so damm rare. BTW at least one onshore UK site racked up 6% run time last year.

                You seem to have a problem remembering those figures, despite them being mentioned frequently when this debate comes up and you seem interested in this subject.

                1. Wilco 1

                  Re: Build Nuclear

                  Well let's look at the actual UK capacity factors then, shall we? Average over 2007-2011 was 27% for wind. Nuclear in the UK achieves 60%. Gas does 62%. Coal in the UK does just 42%. So you need ~50% more wind capacity to match coal and ~120% more to match nuclear/gas assuming no technology improvements (we know new wind and new nuclear do much better, new coal/gas might too).

                  Yes we agree you need more wind capacity to produce the same output - I have never denied that. But why is that a lousy use of money? New nuclear costs more than new wind per MWh. And ultimately the price per MWh matters more than how many wind turbines one needs to match a power station, right?

                  Also, you seem to believe, like many, that the capacity factor means that wind turbines are turning only a fraction of the time. In reality wind turbines generate power almost every day of the year, especially if dispersed over a large area. It's just that lower wind speeds result in a lower output. Note that nuclear power stations do actually have extended downtimes (months) where no power is produced. Ie. they cannot reach 100% nameplate capacity over a long period either. 60% capacity factor is pretty bad, does that mean they are doomed too or lousy value for money in your opinion?

                  The reason I'm impressed with the current wind power results is that the UK just broke the 5GW mark for the first time (a large windfarm came online late 2012) and stayed above 5GW pretty much for 4 full days continuously (and still going strong at 80% capacity today). That has saved a serious amount of gas - the subject of the article.

          2. ChilliKwok
            Meh

            Re: Build Nuclear

            I'm interested to see the calculations behind wilco's assertion that "every watt of wind saves 2.5W of gas"

            1) A CCGT is typically 55-60% efficient at turning gas into electrical energy.

            2) The wind farm requires 100% hot-standby gas-powered backup consuming as much as 10% extra fuel per KWH compared to continuous full-load operation. Not to mention reduced lifetime and increased servicing costs.

            3) sourcing power from remote windfarms typically incurrs an extra 3% transmission loss compared to power sourced from a conventional station near to the city.

            So I get: Gas saving = 1KWh wind * 0.97 Tx loss * 0.9 backup loss / 0.57 avg CCGT efficiency = 1.5KWH "saved"

            Of course this ignores the fact that that KWH of wind costed 4-to-7x as much as the KWh of gas power - due to the higher cost of the wind turbines, pylons and grid required to transport the leccy from the remote ruined beautyspot to the city + the cost of having the gas power station on standby for when the wind drops or blows too hard - plus the fact that the wind KWh maybe generated in the night when it is not needed compared to the CCGT KWh which can be generated on demand.

            1. Wilco 1
              Boffin

              Re: Build Nuclear

              1. I was using 40% efficiency based on overall efficiency of 36% of UK electricity generation (which is held back by coal). This claims 40-50% for CCGT, so the average is somewhere inbetween depending on demand: http://chp.decc.gov.uk/cms/centralised-electricity-generation/ Ie. your 57% average is way too high. It may be true for newly built CCGT's but it certainly isn't true for existing UK generation.

              2. Backup is not required beyond what is already needed anyway to follow the daily demand curve (both demand and wind are followed almost exclusively using CCGT, ie. no CCGT is at 100% continuous capacity, so is already running at lower efficiencies to follow demand). Also you don't require 100% backup on hot standby 100% of the time as wind power is predictable and changes rather slowly - you just need to have enough capacity for windstill days. This capacity may be provided by other sources such as links. So unless you can provide hard evidence of that 10% extra gas, it's just another anti-wind myth.

              3. Not sure where you get that 3% but a lot of windfarms are being built close to where most electricity is used. Think London Array. So losses are fairly small and not really different from power stations which need to be on the coast due to requiring huge quanties of cooling water.

              So actual saving might be closer to 2.20W gas per 1W of wind assuming 45% average thermal efficiency and 1% losses.

              Note that even off-shore wind power is about twice the market rate, so not anywhere near 4-7x. The standby claim is just a myth without evidence, and wind power generated at night is used 100% as we scale down CCGT. Look at this for example: http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/index.php

              You never see CCGT going all the way down to zero at night, even when it is very windy like in the last few days. In the summer coal is scaled back as demand is lower anyway. So nothing is dumped.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Build Nuclear

      The aid budget is tiny. If you want to raid a budget, then the MoD is the place. Annoy Lewis Page into the bargain by shutting down the Navy.

      1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge
        WTF?

        Re: Build Nuclear

        Aid is indeed tiny, but defence isn't that much bigger. If you wand to address the big spenders, these are:

        Pensions

        Social Security

        Health

        Education

        Together, those make up 80-90% of the state spend...

        1. Zmodem

          Re: Build Nuclear

          get a 6 mw wind turbine, take off the blade, and put a electro magnetic motor on it

          you can make a perpetual generator that is 99% with a domestic kit like in this picture http://s24.postimg.org/wvt4f8qt1/generator.png

          the battery or external source kickstarts the motor, which brings up the dynamo to generating power at minimum speed, which is stored and looped back through the battery and into the motor making the dynamo speed upto the maximum output generating speed of 20rpm and a constant 6 mw

          electro magnetic motors use input volts to power the electro magnets with poles oposite to each other which makes the axle spin meaning there is no mechanical shaft power involved

          when the maximum output is being generated you can upen up the loop to the main circuit

          1. Zmodem

            Re: Build Nuclear

            and if they are the size of houses, instead of dams, you just have a kickstart battery cell that gets charged by solar, or powering your spaceships etc, when they are taken offline for maintenance, which is not connected to the main loop, the batteries would fry with massive amount of power just passing through them

          2. Wilco 1

            Re: Build Nuclear

            That just runs on the battery, if you disconnect it, it stops immediately of course. Simples.

            1. Wilco 1
              Trollface

              Re: Build Nuclear

              Btw if you believe those motor generator claims or think that cars can run on water then I have an incredable investment opportunity for you. Remember how all that cold fusion was swept under the carpet by big oil corporations? Well I just need some money to continue researching it, and it will make you a billionaire when I find the answer.

        2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Happy

          Re: Build Nuclear

          "Pensions

          Social Security

          Health

          Education"

          You missed defense.

          And it also is a big item.

  24. Rol Silver badge

    A change is in order

    Currently, those who use the least energy pay the most per unit, while at the other end of the domestic scale, those heating outdoor pools pay a lot less.

    The system rewards higher users while penalising those who budget very carefully.

    I suggest a new approach.

    Each and every citizen gets an energy quota, which has a cumulative effect for the household.

    Each household pays a relatively cheap amount for the energy they use, until they overstep the quota, at which point the price goes up.

    Higher thresholds invoke more punitive charges.

    This would have the effect of raising people out of energy poverty and curtailing excessive use.

    A system where only those with copious amount of filthy lucre can cook up a tin of beans is not befitting of a modern, progressive society.

  25. Don Jefe
    Meh

    Don't Worry

    As soon as Germany has finished raping Cyprus for their cash, they'll demand rights to their relatively new gas reserves then the Germans can sell it to the UK. That's how the super chummy EU works right?

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: Don't Worry

      Germany isn't "raping Cyprus for cash". Along with Finland, the Netherlands and others, it is setting strict limits on how much money it will lend to Cyprus. They are bound to do so by treaty.

      By the way, the levy on savers proposed by the Cypriot government, contrary to media speculation it was not the German government who suggested breaching the deposit guarantee, would be roughly similar to that which has already been imposed on British savers since 2008. Still, let's not let facts get in the way of some good, old jingoism!

      1. Don Jefe

        Re: Don't Worry

        More than anything it's a straight EU run on Russian money. The EU are stealing to add to the failing market in vain attempts to prop up their silly play union. They don't care about how 'levying' the savings of average people completely undermines the reason for working hard. Pretty standard European 'union nanny state' crap is what it is. Take from the commoner and give it to the ruling class so they can give it back to the commoner, less a percentage for services of course.

  26. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Black Helicopters

    "unfortunate" failure of Belgium connector *triples* spot gas price.

    Unfortunate for customers that is.

    Not so for suppliers or (in reality) the gas companies.

    Conspiracy theory. Moi?

  27. Dave 15 Silver badge

    back to coal

    Sadly (cough) it is time to tell the EU where they can go with their large coal power station ban. As India will this year build more than our entire stock of coal power stations, and with them burn far more than we do the environmental situation won't get worse by us continuing to use coal. More over despite importing a lot of coal (because we are too stupid to dig it out from our own ground) the coal supplies are far more reliable.

    Wind and solar are no alternative. Nuclear will take years to build. Didcot and other huge coal power stations are now standing idle. - get them back on as a matter of supreme national emergency. And keep them on.

    1. itzman
      Black Helicopters

      Re: back to coal

      If only it WERE just the EU. Sadly with Greenpeace acting as advisors to the government (I kid you not) the new energy bill goes WAY beyond EU LCP directives towards limiting the actual CO2 emitted per coal plant capacity., forcing new coal plant to operate below maximum capacity in order to be legal, let alone requiring it to absorb masses of limestone to de-sulphur the exhausts.

      The intention is to make coal plant in the UK completely uneconomic so no one will ever build more.

      Just as they have done with nuclear. Thus driving us towards the two most expensive and therefore profitable sources of electricity generation - wind and gas.

      1. Wilco 1

        Re: back to coal

        Shutting down coal is a good thing, it's by far the most polluting of all forms of electricity generation. It's a shame those costs are currently externalized (deaths and NHS costs due to bad air quality), but when you add pollution controls then you start to see the true cost.

        We've just agreed to build more nuclear power stations in the UK. It happens to be as expensive as off-shore wind power: $14 Billion for 3.2GW...

        1. Richard 12 Silver badge

          Re: back to coal

          While nuclear might be more expensive to build than wind for 'nameplate capacity', nuclear produces the actual nameplate capacity at any time we want it to.

          Nuclear power is also far safer than wind in terms of deaths per GWh.

          Seriously, wind power is very dangerous, accounting for a great many deaths every year - mostly due to falls during build and maintenance.

          They don't make headlines because they get lumped in with general construction deaths, and they only claim one or two victims each time.

          1. Wilco 1

            Re: back to coal

            Wrong. Our nuclear capacity is about 10GW, so that's 3.5 deaths per year - or TWICE as many deaths per year than wind power (5GW at 26% capacity). And if we switched ALL our wind to nuclear you'd save... just 1.25 lives per year.

            That hardly makes wind power "very dangerous, accounting for a great many deaths per year"... You've got to be a serious spin doctor to make that kind of ridiculous claim.

            The fact is gas, oil, coal and even hydro cause about 2 orders of magnitude more deaths. Switching our 20GW of coal to either wind or nuclear would save 2628 lives (or 48700 for Chinese coal) per year. And deaths per GWh doesn't include costs of pollution cleanup, treating illnesses and reduced economic output from work absence. Now that is something that adds up to a measurable quantity.

            1. Richard 12 Silver badge

              Re: back to coal

              Where on earth did you get that number?

              In the last decade, the reported nuclear-power related deaths in the EU are zero, and roughly 4 worldwide - a steam explosion in 2004 in Japan.

              (There was also a fatal accident at the Matapuri research reactor and some errors in medical usage of radiation, but that's not nuclear power.)

              During the last decade (to end 2012), Wind power has killed 5 or 6* in the UK alone - and far more in Germany.

              So UK-wide for the last ten years, 0 nuclear deaths per GW and 1 wind death per GW expected capacity.

              The reason is quite simple - almost all wind turbine work is at a height in areas with high winds and poor weather, and as there are a lot of turbines needed to have a decent output, there will be a lot of such work needed.

              One recent study (2011) gave the following worldwide death rates:

              Nuclear : 0.04 /TWh

              Wind : 0.15 /TWh

              By that measure, wind is more than three times as dangerous.

              Yes, it's three orders of magnitude less dangerous than worldwide coal - but just because cliff diving is safer than bungee jumping doesn't mean we should all go do that!.

              * Depends if you include collisions with offshore turbines. I think you should.

              1. Wilco 1

                Re: back to coal

                Well if you quote deaths per GWh then you can hardly complain when I combine the worldwide numbers (0.04 and 0.15) with actual production in the UK to get expected UK deaths. Nuclear produces more GWh today so also more expected deaths... You can do the math yourself if you like.

                As you say most of these are construction accidents. We haven't constructed any nuclear power stations or had a serious accident for decades, so it's no surprise there are 0 actual nuclear deaths in the UK. And 6 wind turbine deaths per decade is extremely low given the large number of turbines we have built. Let's see how Hinkley C changes the statistics.

                But it's just crazy to talk about 0.6 deaths per year as being significant. You must be interested in saving lives because that's why you quoted deaths per GWh, right? So we should do something about coal as it would avoid many thousands of deaths in the UK every year.

                Looking at the wider picture, even those are insignificant when comparing with deaths due to cars and their dirty exhaust (~1900 deaths due to accidents, ~13000 due to exhaust fumes). And you're proposing we should build nuclear rather than wind just to save 0.6 deaths per year?!? That's just insane. Even fitting RCD's to every home in the UK would save 2 orders of magnitude more lives - every year.

                1. Wilco 1

                  Re: back to coal

                  I forgot - I completely fail to grasp how you can possibly justify calling wind power "very dangerous, accounting for a great many deaths per year" when you yourself admit it's just 6 deaths per decade. Since when is 0.6 per year a "great many"???

                  1. Richard 12 Silver badge
                    Unhappy

                    Re: back to coal

                    I'm complaining because you've done the maths completely wrong.

                    TWh is a measure of energy (1 TWh == 3,600,000,000,000,000 joules), GW is a measure of power (1 GW == 1,000,000,000 joules per second).

                    The time component is important. How much energy has the installed plant actually generated? This is not a multiplier of nameplate rating, even with a capacity fudge factor, as the amount of installed plant has changed a lot during the last decade. It should be pretty easy to measure but the figures are hard to find.

                    Essentially, the problem is that Wind is getting more dangerous (more turbines in more dangerous locations), while coal, gas and nuclear are getting safer.

                    Also, 6 wind deaths is the UK alone. It's about 200 worldwide over the same time period - again, compared to 4 nuclear power deaths in the entire world.

                    I do agree with you that we should be shutting down our coal burning plants. I just think we need to be building nuclear to replace them - and the time to start building those nukes was about five years ago, instead of spunking all that money all over tiny wind and solar PV installs.

                    1. Wilco 1

                      Re: back to coal

                      There is nothing wrong with my calculations, eg. for nuclear I did 10GW capacity * 24 hours in a day * 365 days in a year = 87.6 TWh. Multiply with 0.04 deaths per TWh and you get 3.5 expected deaths per year. It's not that difficult is it? Actual TWh generated is very hard to find, so I was forced to use an estimate, but it gives a good feeling of the numbers.

                      Yes sure, deaths likely increase as we build more wind farms. But deaths are extremely low to start with, so it's not alarming even if it doubled. There are so many more important things which kill or injure thousands where relatively small investments could make a big difference in reducing deaths and cost to society - I already mentioned RCD's.

                      Well replacing coal with nuclear would certainly be a better option than keeping coal. Too much of Europe is powered by coal. I don't see how you can have issues with subsidising solar panels or wind power when nuclear/gas/oil subsidies are many times larger. Solar panels are now getting cheap enough that they don't require subsidies for much longer.

  28. Cipher
    FAIL

    This is what happens...

    ...When Policy is based on junk/political science.

  29. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Why not simply tap into the rich streams of methane emanating from the comment pages of El Reg?

  30. Andy Fletcher

    The British government's Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC)

    That would appear to be the problem right there. A Department of Energy's job would be to ensure energy security. A department of Climate Change - surely the exact opposite.

    I suppose we can all cry foul at Thatcher for destroying the coal industry, but it was that twat Blair who signed Kyoto. I suppose we're going to find out just how expensive that signature was. He won't of course.

  31. Dave, Portsmouth
    FAIL

    All your graphs show is "people use gas in winter". Where are the other 2995 words I apparently should have learnt by looking at your three pictures?

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    British Energy in a few Words

    Britain discovers North Sea Gas. Announces that country is sorted for foreseeable future. Government flogs it. Bastards.

  33. asdf
    Facepalm

    wow

    Wow one of those rare problems the UK has and the poorly ran US doesn't have. It must really suck having to rely on Russia for anything. Now that we are the Saudi Arabia of natural gas due to fracking this is one the few problems we don't have.

  34. Zmodem

    there is something called electric, modern cookers are just as fast as gas to heat up and cant get alot hotter,

    its not hard to replace a gas boiler for central heating that uses electric heat rods

    electric is 60% cheaper

    no1 cares for gas except those who want to be posh and grew up in the 1980s while the gov keeps forcing new house builds to have gas

    1. Wilco 1
      Thumb Down

      Gas is far cheaper than electricity

      For heating gas is far cheaper than electric heating, a really efficient boiler achieves 90+% for central heating and 85% for hot water. I pay 20p/kWh for electricity and 5p for gas including standing charges - that's pretty much the cheapest deal for low usage. So that makes electricity 3.5 times more expensive.

      With a really good ground source heat pump (COP > 3.5) one could beat gas, but most won't. If the electricity price is closer to 2 times the gas price then fitting new homes with ground source heat pumps as standard would work. Adding solar panels helps offset any extra electricity used.

      For cooking it's much closer, gas is still a little cheaper but electric is about as fast, less dangerous (especially induction) and avoids the extra water and exhaust fumes from burning gas. So overall electric cooking is the better choice, and it's used almost exclusively on the continent.

      1. Zmodem

        Re: Gas is far cheaper than electricity

        electric is alot cheaper, you usually have to pay £30 gas bill a quater even if you have'nt used none

        you can just swap your gas heating boiler with an electric boiler without any other work or having to be done or have to swap to rubbish electric storage heater that burn the electric and cost £5 a hour

        then you can always spend £600 on a 2kw wind turbine

        1. Wilco 1
          Boffin

          Re: Gas is far cheaper than electricity

          If you use very little gas then don't pay a standing charge. There are lots of deals that don't require you to. But electricity is 2.5-4 times more expensive per kWh, so using electricity for direct heating is the most stupid thing you can do. Electric storage heating is actually a far better option because you can use cheap night electricity at 1/2 to 1/3 of the day rate. It's still 50% more expensive than gas but closer at least.

          You're not going to get a 2kW turbine for £600, dream on. The cheapest are around £2000 and that is without the tower, inverter and grid connection. So it'll be at least £4000 before you're on the grid. In any case a small wind turbine on your roof is wasted money even if you can get planning permission - it'll never generate much power. Solar panels would be the way to go. I suggest you do some research on this, as you will lose a lot of money otherwise.

          1. Zmodem

            Re: Gas is far cheaper than electricity

            but most people only like gas central heating because it works, and all the hot water circulating around keep most of you house warm

            electric central heating just consists of crap storage heaters that you have to sit on to even warmup your ass cheeks

            its usually never todo with cost, when it comes to how to heat your house

            if you look hard enough, you can use a normal gas central heating system with an electric boiler

            1. Zmodem

              Re: Gas is far cheaper than electricity

              and in most small 3 bedroom houses, a few 500 watt heat rods instead of using a gas flame to heat up 4 ltrs of water for your central heating system would probaly take 30 mins like a gas flame

              1. Zmodem

                Re: Gas is far cheaper than electricity

                there already are gas to electric domestic furnaces, i doubt if any power company in the uk offers them

                http://www.ehow.com/info_12224143_illegal-convert-gas-furnace-electric.html

              2. Wilco 1

                Re: Gas is far cheaper than electricity

                People use gas central heating because it works well and is by far the cheapest option. I don't understand why you keep insisting electric heating is good when in fact it is horribly inefficient compared to a gas boiler or heat pump. I have electric storage heating in my house currently but it's about to be replaced by a combi as that is far cheaper and more efficient, gets rid of the 4 big tanks required and avoids the issue of needing to top up during the day if I use a lot of hot water. Overall the combi will significantly reduce my electricity bill as well as reducing my gas bill due to the increased efficiency.

                If you had solar panels then you'd make far more money selling it to the grid and buying gas back for heating rather than heat using electricity. Only if you somehow generated so much electricity that you couldn't sell to the grid then it might make sense to dump it into a storage heater.

                In the future we'll move towards heating and hot water using heat pumps. Resistive heating is a waste of energy as it only achieves 100% efficiency.

                1. Zmodem

                  Re: Gas is far cheaper than electricity

                  i keep saying electric heating, because the country is low on gas, and gas bills keep on going up and up, and is alot more expensive then electric

                  you can convert your existing gas central heating to use an electric boiler, that in british 3 bed room houses would only probaly need 2x or 3x 500 watt electric heat rods in the converted boiler, which is alot cheaper then 10x storage heaters that are rubbish and cost £5 a hour to have on

                  new houses builds should just have a gas central heating system with an electric boiler instead of gas

                  1. Zmodem

                    Re: Gas is far cheaper than electricity

                    if you have a good wind turbine, you get a boiler with a 3.5kw kettle coil for your central heating to start to work in 5 mins and not 30-40 mins

  35. Herby

    Tap France?

    They seem to have LOTS of gas!

    Unfortunately it is all in the form of hot air, but it might be used to spin turbines. I suppose the same goes for politicians.

    Make them ALL blow into a gas turbine to spin a generator.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    One last post on this subject.....

    What are the weather conditions and gas demand in Continental Europe right now? Are they in the middle of a cold snap with high demand as well? Failing that, is there somewhere that Britain could get a shipment of LNG from in the next 10 days (would have to be within at most 2000-3000 nautical miles to arrive in time, even if there was a tanker), and does Britain have the terminal capacity to take that LNG if it could arrive on time? And would a tanker or two of LNG make a real difference in a country of 60 million people? I'd have to think that would be the best you could scare up and get shipped in on time.

    1. Richard Street

      Re: One last post on this subject.....

      To answer your questions:

      >What are the weather conditions and gas demand in Continental Europe right now?

      Cold and demand is relatively high in NWE. Demad is less in the med however where LNG cargoes often go.

      >Are they in the middle of a cold snap with high demand as well?

      See above.

      >Failing that, is there somewhere that Britain could get a shipment of LNG from in the next 10 days (would have to be within at most 2000-3000 nautical miles to arrive in time, even if there was a tanker), and does Britain have the terminal capacity to take that LNG if it could arrive on time?

      Yes there are quite a few tankers that could (thoeretically) come to the UK. The company I work for (www.ICIS.com) track all these cargos.

      Yes we have plenty of import capacity. We have one of the worlds largest LNG capable harbours in the world in Milford Haven.

      It is more likely however that the Norwegians (mainly Statoil) will send us more gas down one of the 3 main pipelines that connect the NCS to the UK.

      >And would a tanker or two of LNG make a real difference in a country of 60 million people?

      Yes. LNG tankers contain a HUGE amount of gas. The biggest challenge is getting all that gas down the pipes in cold weather. The last couple of times that large industrial customers got cut off due to local shortages was due to the network companies not being capable of delivering the gas quick enough.

      >I'd have to think that would be the best you could scare up and get shipped in on time.

      Not really. You'd have to assume that LNG will always take some time to arrive as it takes time to unload and regas.

      The more likely scenario is that the French or Germans would use the gas they have in storage. This would reduce the amount that the Norwegains need to deliver to them and that this gas would then get sent here. This could happen within a few hours.

      Clearly none of this will happen out of the goodness of their hearts so its a question of paying them enough to do this. The truth is that the costs of paying them for the gas is likely to be less than building big gas storage facilities (according to a study by WaterWye in 2005).

      BTW The interconnector is no longer the only pipeline between mainland EU and the UK. There is also BBL.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021