“It’s peak demand, stupid”

18th Mar 2019


During Bill Clinton’s first Presidential election campaign, his team were determined to keep the focus on what they knew mattered – so they pinned a message in their war-room, it read “It’s the economy stupid”. For policy-makers grappling with how to decarbonise heat, they need to keep focussed on peak heat demand – “it’s peak demand stupid”.

Firstly, when it’s cold no-one wants an energy system that cannot keep people warm. That is a given. That is also why heat pumps are not seen as the best way of heating our homes. Even the Climate Change Committee now recognise this (about time too you say), with their option of hybrid heat pumps (a boiler and a heat pump).

So meeting heat demand on those cold days, such as last year’s ‘Beast from the East’ is key. Non-energy experts, seem to forget this bit. If we all did, frankly people would die from the cold in greater numbers than they do now. So the flexibility of an energy system to store and then use energy, such as through line-packing of the gas network saves lives.

A reminder from the study conducted by Birmingham University into last year’s peak, saw 214GW of local gas demand on 1st March; the day before, between 5am and 8am, saw gas consumption increase by 116GW. To put this number into perspective, peak electricity supply over the 2017/18 heating season was just 53GW with the highest 5am to 8am being a paltry 16GW.

It doesn’t take Einstein to realise that electric heating will not keep people warm when they need to be. So a warning to those who want heat without gas, you push this agenda putting lives at risk. When policy-makers say we can build homes without gas heating, I wonder if they understand what matters, “it’s peak demand stupid”.

Best wishes

Mike Foster, CEO