By Paul Homewood


Yesterday, a not untypical January day weather wise, wind and solar power contributed just 11.1% and 0.7% of the UK’s electricity. As usual, the country is dependent on gas and coal to keep the lights on.

But electricity is only part of our energy mix. Demand for natural gas, for instance peaks during winter months, yesterday reaching a rate of over 380 million cubic meters a day.

To put this into an energy context, 380 mcm equates to 167 GW, which is about four times the peak demand for electricity.

The government wants to move rapidly towards ending the consumption of gas in homes and industry, and replace it with electricity consuming applications such as heat pumps.

But currently there is no way our power grid could cope with a fivefold increase in demand. It does not have enough generating capacity, and neither would the transmission and distribution be able to cope.

The plan, of course, is build more wind farms, but the chart below shows just how fanciful this notion is.

The government target is to increase wind capacity from 25 to 55 GW, of which 40 GW is to be offshore. But even assuming we can get around the problems of intermittency, doubling the current contribution from wind will barely begin to meet the demand switched from natural gas.

It is worth reminding ourselves that solar power is pretty much useless in winter. Also gas powered generation is often close to being maxed out on the occasions in winter when winds are light.

These changes won’t just happen in the dim and distant future either. The Committee on Climate Change, for instance, wants to ban all new gas boilers from 2033, and aims for 10 million heat pumps to be installed by the mid 2030s.

And, of course, we have not even discussed electric cars, which will put even more pressure on the power grid long before then.

Unfortunately our energy policies seem to be run by Greenpeace instead of energy experts.


January 28, 2021 at 05:36AM