Global warming, harsh winters and the instability of energy supplies from around the world have contributed to the fear that Britain is running out of energy. Now a report from OFGEM suggests we will be facing power shortage risks by 2015. But how close are we to being in the dark?
Where does Britain’s energy come from?
Currently the countries energy supply is made up from Gas, nuclear and coal power stations as well as other renewable energies such as wind farming. Coal power stations make up 31%. However in order for the UK to reach its 80% decrease in carbon emmissions by 2020 many coal power stations have closed, including the iconic Didcot A power station.
There is also action to close all but one of the ageing nuclear power plants in the country by 2016, which currently attribute 19% of the energy supply, further pushing towards alternative fuels.
This action has led to a greater demand on the gas supply. Which there are fears that the country is unable to cope.
What does a greater dependancy on gas mean?
In the recent years a greater reliance on Gas power has occurred due to it being ‘cleaner’ than coal. This will cause a greater dependance on Gas power stations. It is not certain that Britain can cope.
Britain currently produces a supply of gas that is boosted by imported supplies. The harsh winter has meant that the power stations have been running at overcapacity. During the most recent cold snap a tankers from Qatar had to be sent over in order to supply Britain’s energy demands.
There are conflicting views on whether the country will run out of gas. The fears have risen from the lack of gas storage in the country. The government were forced to release a statement in order to calm concerns surrounding the lack of security in the energy supply.
Supplier Norway expects to idle around 40 mcm of its offshore gas infrastructure for maintenance from April 1, piling further pressure on Britain’s gas market.
A core problem is that Britain has far less gas storage capacity than its peers – 15 days’ worth of demand when full versus more than 100 days’ worth in France and Germany.
“The lack of incentives for storage investment appears indicative of the UK’s wider gas sector, where investors currently see regulatory risk as an insurmountable hurdle,” said Roderick Bruce, analyst at IHS Global Insight.
What can be done?
The fear of rolling black outs harken back to a darker day that those born in the 70’s will remember. There is the need to sustain and conserve energy for as long as possible. However the inclement winters have left little choice than to turn up our heating.
A massive investment is needed into the creation of sustainable energy sources. Although unpopular, more wind farms will need to be created, supposedly the UK is the Saudi Arabia of wind. Surely if we have such a rich resources we should be capitalising on it?
It can be argued that there is a greater need for more work improving the waste caused by the generation of nuclear power. In order to make it a more environmentally safer option.
What does this mean for us?
It is unlikely that Britain will run out of energy. To truly run out of energy it would depend on the severity of the winter, the reserve gas supplies would have to be below 60% at the beginning of winter. It would take all the wrong circumstances to arise. However stranger things have happened.
It is very likely that the strain put on to the energy supplies will lead to price increases. Already gas customers are paying extra annually. With the pressure on the gas supplies this can only be seen to increase.
Whilst the demand for alternative energy remains our pockets will feel the effects.