Skip to content

Replacing Natural Gas

November 26, 2016

By Paul Homewood 




John Fuller asked me what effect it would have if natural gas was replaced by electricity.


We can start by looking at DECC’s numbers for gas consumption last year. Note that these are in GWh.




Excluding electricity generation, we are looking at 580 TWh.

Total electricity generation last year was 339 TWh, we would virtually have to treble this figure to replace natural gas.

It does not end there, because demand for gas, domestic at least, is concentrated during winter months. The respective figures for Q1 last year were electricity generation of 96 TWh, and gas consumption (excl generation) of 226 TWh.

Thus in winter we would need to increase electricity generation by 235%.

Worse still, since gas demand is heaviest in early mornings and evenings in winter, peak loading would make matters even worse. (I did publish a graph on this a few weeks ago, but annoyingly I can’t find it!!)


Not only would we need to find the generating capacity to cope with all of this, but we would also need to drastically ramp up transmission capabilities.

  1. Dave Ward permalink
    November 26, 2016 7:50 pm

    The Elephant in the Room being that gas is easily stored to meet sudden fluctuations in demand. Electricity (in any meaningful amount) cannot…

    • Joe Public permalink
      November 26, 2016 8:04 pm

      I’m a slow typist!

    • Gerry, England permalink
      November 27, 2016 11:00 am

      And we have very little gas storage as was shown a few winters back as it came close to exhaustion. The dwindling of the North Sea flow means we import gas as well now.

  2. Joe Public permalink
    November 26, 2016 8:02 pm

    Those figures are only part of the story.

    We can’t, and into the foreseeable future won’t be able to, store significant quantities of electricity economically.

    The UK’s 4x Pumped Storage facilities have a total capacity of approx 28.7 GWh, enough to supply the current UK demand on a winter’s day for about ….. 40 minutes.

    The challenge of keeping the UK warm is illustrated by the diagram (chart in section 58 on p13) which is the work of Robert Sansom of Imperial College. It shows estimated national half hourly heat demand (red) for 2010 and actual half hourly national electricity demand (grey).

    Current max electricity demand is ~58GW; Maximum heating demand is ~350GW!!

    [Google the pdf:
    Report to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy from the Parliamentary Advisory Group on Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) September 2016]

    In comparison, phenomenal quantities of gas are already stored.

    Existing (2016) gas storage facilities = ~51.15TWh

    Withdrawal capacity ~1.926 TWh/DAY Duration up to 67 days

    We have proposed additional storage projects (2016) for 79.2TWh

    Even in the winter, extract from storage makes up only a small proportion of GB’s total gas supplies. Most is from linepack.

    Click to access Rough_gas_storage_undertakings_review_final_report.pdf

    Click to access 57327_HC_717_Print.pdf

    • AlecM permalink
      November 26, 2016 8:15 pm

      As I worked on the two international CCS programmes in the 1990s, I have a certain ‘feel’ for that subject.

      1. The chemical processes (amines, reverse cement) are ~40% efficient.

      2. The pumping cost for liquid CO2 is enormous.

      3. To minimise (2) we’d have to spend about as much capital to adapt the depleted oil reservoirs to accept the CO2 as was spent to develop them in the first place

      4. Real CO2-AGW is near zero: that science is easily proved by any professional scientist or engineer to be a 40 year fraud: 4 mistakes and 2 frauds.

      5 Of course, I could be wrong, which makes me a professional!

      • Barry Cullen permalink
        November 26, 2016 9:07 pm

        Why would anyone suggest a switch to electricity??? Gas at >90% eff vs. electric at -30%

        As an aside:
        Just spent Thankgiving day discussing a new simple solvent/membrane process for flue gas cleanup w/ my 17 yr old nephew. He owns the technology. CO2 cost will be ~5$/ton. I don’t know what pumping costs will be or if the is an outlet for commercial CO2 in the U.K. There are many here in the US.
        But again WHY??

      • Tom Dowter permalink
        November 27, 2016 5:29 am

        If it really is easy to prove that real CO2 AGW is near zero, would it not be better to demonstrate this proof rather than merely making assertions.

        I am sure that we would all be grateful for such a proof!

      • AlecM permalink
        November 27, 2016 9:45 am

        Watch this space.

        A Japanese researcher is publishing on the same lines, but he has missed two key aspects of physics which Cess and Hansen got badly wrong.

      • wert permalink
        November 27, 2016 9:58 am

        Yeah it is near zero. 1.5 to 4.5 K per doubling, with feedback, according to IPCC.

        I’d personally guess the long term effect is discernible, but considerably less than AOGCMs have been used to assert.

        The jury is still out, the science is not settled in terms of sensitivity to CO2.

      • Gerry, England permalink
        November 27, 2016 11:07 am

        18 years of flat temperature with rising CO2 levels – bar a strong El Nino – should cover it. Although in reply you could say that there were 60+ explanations for ‘The Pause’ from the ‘Settled Science’ Team and that Karl et al finally got rid of it by just raising the temperature of the sea. But then this subject has moved on from science to religious dogma so scientific facts aren’t really relevant. Sadly we will have to suffer the failure of their policy before they realise it is stupid.

    • November 27, 2016 11:15 am

      Brilliant – that’s the chart I lost!!

    • John Fuller permalink
      November 27, 2016 1:04 pm

      Thanks Joe Public, your peak demand ratio for gas and electricity appear to tally with the comment made to the Lords by Mr Sheppard from National Grid, that there is 5-6 more energy in the UK gas grid than the electricity grid. Paul, Thanks also for supplying the numbers in your article. I hope we don’t give up on gas for some time yet!

  3. Svend Ferdinandsen permalink
    November 26, 2016 8:52 pm

    It shows how the green dream is a fatamorgana. It wont happen in a near future, not even in a distant one.
    Not that it wont happen at all, but in due time unless the politicians meddle too much to ruin it all. You can delay new developments by forcing them premature.

  4. November 27, 2016 6:44 am

    I think you have too little faith in such luminaries as the members of the “independent” Committee on Climate Change. At the stroke of a pen they will be able to overcome any minor concerns there are about converting all our gas use to electricity and they will be backed up by every NGO you can think of, by all the experts at BEIS and most importantly, by Harrabin, Shukman, Heap, Attenborough and all the other experts at the BBC. The gullible Government will lap it up.

    Talking about Attenborough,and totally O/T, but the BBC documentary Wildlife II this evening is about deserts, which Attenborough will tell us are getting hotter, bigger and drier. I wonder what is causing it! I can see another complaint to the BBC is on the cards.

    • November 27, 2016 8:11 am

      Sorry, that should be ‘Planet Earth II’, not ‘Wildlife II’.

  5. AlecM permalink
    November 27, 2016 9:47 am

    Reding between the lines, Clarke and Hurd are pushing for the Swansea Tidal Barrage instead of reality. Expect more power cuts as the engineers force sanity onto government.

    • Joe Public permalink
      November 27, 2016 1:59 pm

      Proponents of tidal lagoons skirt over the inconvenient fact that:

      As there are always two high and two low tides every day, tidal lagoons will generate electricity over four periods a day, every day of the year. As we hold the tides for 2.5 hours four times a day, we can generate power for up to 14 in every 24 hours.

      Their answer to which is “We’ll build more, all around our coast.”

  6. November 27, 2016 10:08 am

    Nominations now open for Climate Prat of the Year 2016.


  7. Gerry, England permalink
    November 27, 2016 11:16 am

    Excellent work, Paul. Nice to have a handle on their sheer stupidity. Now, what about all cars being electric too?

    Actually, mentioning cars, in their La-La-Land the batteries of all our electric cars are supposed to form part of the grid are they not? They act as mass battery storage as they charge up overnight – assuming you can afford to run a car with the cost of electricity of course and still have a job to drive to but we must make assumptions. So as the kettle goes on, the toast is in the toaster, you have had your power shower, your car battery is helping out. You just have to hope there is enough in the battery to power the heated windscreen to clear the thick frost and give you heat on the way to work. When they write the story of this in the future and your great grand children come to read it they just won’t believe it! (H/T the Monty Python sketch)

  8. tom0mason permalink
    November 27, 2016 11:47 am

    Look people you are not to think about this.
    Your elite leaders and 97% of all betters have deemed this reasonable and thus it is so.
    Now get back to watching Eastenders and Sir David Attenborough, or Farsebook your hive of ‘friends’.

    • November 27, 2016 1:09 pm

      I have one of Attenborough’s books from a series on earth in the 1980’s. When I learned he wanted people such as myself killed in order to save the planet, I got the book out for discarding.

      Not wanting to pollute any minds, I decided not to donate it. It is now on my brush pile awaiting the next conflagration. Decided to put David into the carbon cycle.

      Why is it these wizards who want me dead to save the planet never lead by example?

      • tom0mason permalink
        November 27, 2016 1:42 pm

        I utterly agree, and thank-you for removing the pollution!
        It is to the shame of broadcasting that the thick as pigshıt Attenburger was allowed to stay in broadcasting when others who were better educated, had more talent and were more naturally entertaining as Professor David Bellamy, and Professor Robert Winstone were unceremoniously removed for not kowtowing to the broadcaster’s AGW propaganda.

        Just goes to prove —
        With the BBC it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

  9. Dung permalink
    November 27, 2016 12:09 pm

    There is a great deal of sense talked on this blog! I would imagine that everyone here could debate any scientist on the issue of CAGW and leave the unfortunate soul as a nervous wreck so why do we have such a problem?
    How can anyone justify CCAS when the planet has been successfully capturing and storing CO2, with no brains, no subsidies and no problems.
    One problem is that our opponents refuse to debate with us and this has been a very successful tactic.
    I have tried to fight this by (for example) asking (FOI) the DECC for one single piece of evidence that supports the assertion that CO2 could cause CAGW, they refuse and instead refer me to thousands of papers referenced by the IPCC. They know it would take a lifetime to disprove everyone of them.

    • Robin Guenier permalink
      November 27, 2016 12:49 pm

      My apologies for making the same point over and over again – but, as I said here (, question the “assumption that climate change is caused by man-made CO2 and you’ll get sucked into endless, tiresome, fruitless and often insulting argument. In contrast, present the argument – based on the facts to which I and manicbeancounter refer [see the link above] – that, whatever the science, the whole exercise is, in any case, utterly pointless and you’ll have your opponents floundering. Try it and see.”

  10. HorshamBren permalink
    November 27, 2016 1:43 pm

    In a WUWT artice on 23/1/16, Philip Foster reasoned thus:

     16 million UK households connected to the UK gas grid
     Average household boiler rated at 60 kW
     To replace this with electric heating would require the same electrical capacity


    16 × 10^6 × 60 kW =~ 10^9 kW = 1 TW

    Given that the Drax power station in Yorkshire generates about 4 GW, we would need to build some 250 Drax sized power stations

    He adds that, if all our cars were electric, we would need a further 2 TW of electrical capacity to charge these vehicles, or a further 500 Drax sized power stations!

    • tom0mason permalink
      November 27, 2016 2:01 pm

      Ok lets ‘think’ Green —

      Move all UK residence to France and cover all of the UK in windmills and supply continuous power to all of Europe. OK…

      Err. what do you mean not in the EU?
      But isn’t that what BREXIT means — Britain to exit it’s land for Europe?
      So what does it mean?


    • Dave Ward permalink
      November 27, 2016 3:06 pm

      “Average household boiler rated at 60 kW”

      I don’t know where that figure came from, but it’s at least twice the typical domestic gas boiler here in the UK. Even if 60kW was the heat INPUT, and you were talking about an inefficient old non-condensing boiler, it’s still too high. Most 2-3 bedroom properties manage comfortably on boilers in the 20-30kW range

  11. Gamecock permalink
    November 27, 2016 3:14 pm

    Always the presumption of centralized power production. The people will develop their own energy supplies as government kills centralized supply.

  12. John F. Hultquist permalink
    November 27, 2016 5:03 pm

    Proposal in NY State for tall towers generates opposition:

  13. spetzer86 permalink
    November 27, 2016 8:53 pm

    Wonder how Canada will manage? Probably just build more solar for those cold winter nights??

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: