From The Guardian on 01-03-2018:

“National Grid has issued a warning that the UK will not have enough gas to meet demand on Thursday, as temperatures plummeted and imports were hit by outages. It is thought unlikely that the situation will affect supply to households, but if enough extra gas supplies by pipeline or ship are not forthcoming, it could affect industrial users.”

[Ed: see also this article from Tallbloke’s Talkshop: UK National Grid issues natural gas deficit warning for March 1st ]

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Since winter hit (Winter? That’s what those of mature years call it, not “The Beast From The East”!) I’ve been keeping an eye on Gridwatch (Google will take you there), and which facilities were doing the hard work of generating our electrical supply had me puzzled.

Coal output was bending the stops on the meter, but gas (closed cycle gas turbines) were well down. The most efficient power stations, CCGT, were running at less than full capacity while the old coal stations, carbon dioxide belching, expensive, were shouldering the load. What was going on?

Well, today we know. We’ve run out of gas again.

There’s a ministry in charge of this, loads of civil servants, a Minister for Energy, a Secretary of State for, among other responsibilities, keeping the gas fires burning and everyone’s lights on. The last time we had a prolonged cold spell (aka a proper winter) the Minister was young Matthew Hancock. On his watch we got down to a couple of weeks gas supply. That means we were two weeks away from the lights going out, two weeks before the old and the sick began to die.

This time it’s … stand up The Rt Hon Claire Perry MP, one of the Cameron cuties. She’s the one who hasn’t done her job and will not be held accountable for the risks the UK is taking yet again. OK, that’s a bit harsh, she’s only been in charge since June last year but if we don’t hold them to account because they change jobs so frequently (it must be like musical chairs in the Cabinet room) then we’ll never have anyone to blame.

The minister is responsible for:

  • Industrial Strategy
  • carbon budgets
  • international climate change, including International Climate Fund
  • climate science and innovation
  • green finance
  • energy efficiency and heat, including fuel poverty
  • low carbon generation
  • energy retail markets
  • smart meters and smart systems
  • oil and gas, including shale gas
  • security of supply
  • electricity and gas wholesale markets and networks
  • international energy
  • energy security, including resilience and emergency planning
  • Oil and gas, security of supply.

Remind me, Minister, how much do we pay you?

***

The largest gas plant in Texas, the Eagle Ford, went from zero to the equivalent of half the UK demand in five years. In the same time the possibly greater resource in the UK near Blackpool has still not been assessed.

Do we have our own shale gas?

We won’t know until we look. We haven’t looked since 2011.

First they’ll turn off industry. That’s not a solution, that’s jobs gone, reputations gone, work gone. To flourish after Brexit this country will have to do better than this.

***

We are run by a bunch of shambling amateurs who couldn’t do worse if they were trying.

Maybe they are.

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