Time for some to wake up to gas

24th Sep 2018


I’ve been catching up with some research outcomes from UKERC recently and a study into the winter peak demand (2017/18) caught my eye ...

(here’s the link)

The paper compares local gas demand (from the GDNs) with electrical supply over the period April 2017 to March 2018. Importantly, it covered the “Beast from the East” event.

Its findings confirm what many of us have been saying for a while and provides some important evidence that will hopefully inform policymakers (read this as, ‘stop them doing something stupid like electrifying heat’).

Firstly, some key facts. Peak hourly gas demand of 214GW occurred at 6pm on March 1st 2018, compared to peak electric supply of 53GW at the same point. I’ll do the maths, that’s a gas: electric ratio of 4. With no obvious means of increasing the electric supply (to meet peak demands) affordably, then the ability of gas to vary pipeline pressure for storage is incredibly valuable.

One of the key challenges highlighted by the report is meeting the rapid increase in demand between 5am and 8am each day. This morning peak is narrow compared to the peak evening demand. People are waking up to a gas heated home; having a hot shower and perhaps cooking their porridge on a gas cooker. Hardly an over-indulged lifestyle, just normal behaviour.

But this demand uses energy – on the 28th February 2018, the local gas demand rose from 89GW at 5am to 205GW by 8am, a difference of 116GW. The entire GB electrical supply changed from 38GW to 49GW, up just 11GW. These huge disparities in demand are typical in the heating season (October to March) with a quarter of all days seeing a 3-hour difference in excess of 100GW. Put bluntly, either electric generation is massively increased (unaffordable); a new means of storage found (unlikely); people are rationed on energy use and go cold (do I really have to point out this might not be popular) or policymakers do what most of us do, that is ‘wake up to gas’.

 Best wishes

Mike Foster, CEO