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Decarbonising Heating

July 24, 2017
tags: ,

By Paul Homewood



Stove Gas Stock Photos


I’ve posted about this before, but it is something which cannot be swept under the carpet.

Heating accounts for about 18% of the UK’s CO2 emissions, but eliminating these simply by switching from gas to electric is not a straightforward as it sounds. This is because demand peaks during winter months, and of course at certain times of the day.

Below is a chart from the Imperial College, and incorporated in a report by the Parliamentary Advisory Group on Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) last year. It shows the estimated national half hourly heat demand (red) for 2010, and the actual national electricity demand (grey).




As the report points out, peak heat demand exceeds peak electricity by a factor of 5 to 6.

Clearly, to replace gas for heating would necessitate a massive increase in electricity generation capacity and transmission capacity. And that assumes that the electricity will actually be available when we need it.

So far, government plans have not got far past heat pumps and a bit of district heating networks. But as the Report points out, this is just spitting in the wind. Instead, it recommends a mass roll out of hydrogen production, via steam reformation.

Both decarbonisation scenarios require CCS on a massive scale, something that does not even exist in any viable form.

I have looked at the hydrogen option before, and we know it would be astronomically expensive, simply just to set up. Ongoing costs of transforming gas into hydrogen, and then paying to pipe all of the CO2 under the North Sea would add considerably to the cost to consumers.


Harrabin prattles on about smart energy, battery storage and solar panels. If that is all we have to rely on, heaven help us all!

  1. July 24, 2017 5:21 pm

    Under present plans, for those with a gas supply, a nice quiet Stirling driven generator could earn you a Bob or two! A bit like the Northern Ireland fiasco.

    • AlecM permalink
      July 24, 2017 6:52 pm

      Better to have a CHP – 55% CH4 – electrons………………………….

  2. markl permalink
    July 24, 2017 5:24 pm

    The road to Utopia is littered with failures and fools.

    • David Richardson permalink
      July 24, 2017 9:10 pm

      So is the road to disaster Mark

  3. Howard Stein permalink
    July 24, 2017 5:26 pm

    Those of us who understand the numbers involved in repacing fossil fuels for electrical generation,manufacturung processes, domestic heating and cooking and transport generally with renewables I believe are missing the point of what the green zealots want. They want it to be impossible so that we are forced back to Victorian & earlier levels of energy use to satisfy their political goals. I’m pessimistic that no amount of pointing out the reality will alter their strategy, and those with the power seem to support their aims.

  4. A C Osborn permalink
    July 24, 2017 5:28 pm

    Paul, they really don’t have a clue do they?
    There aren’t any real Scientists or better still Engineers in the whole lot of them, so they listen to the snake oil salesmen and nod their heads and come up with this kind of nonsense.
    It is time someone took them to task, but there isn’t anyone, Booker and Dellingpole just get ignored.
    I don’t know what it is going to take to bring them to their senses (if they actually have any).
    And what is really worse is I am starting to not care.

    The BBC is really pushing the envelope on Energy and Climate crap today, it is teeth grinding to have watch.

    • HotScot permalink
      July 24, 2017 6:29 pm


      It seems Pruitt’s Read Team/Blue Team proposal is gathering momentum so perhaps there is hope yet. If the main climate change alarmist suspects have the prospect of submitting their science for examination, or have it discarded because they refuse to submit it, we’ll then find out just how committed people like Michael Mann are.

      I also suspect that if it goes ahead, there will be a shortlist of subjects considered critical to the debate and it’s going to be pretty difficult to convince anyone that global temperatures are about to take a monumental leap to move from current observed data, up to the computer projections. Similarly, sea level rise, and the disparity between stable temperatures rise, and increasing CO2.

      And the fact is, Trump/Pruitt et al must be fairly confident in this undertaking, because if it does fall flat on it’s face, Trump would be put under enormous pressure to get back on board with the Paris Accord.

      My real interest is in what form any conclusions on the subject would take and who would deliver results that contradicted the AGW concoction.

      • A C Osborn permalink
        July 24, 2017 8:58 pm

        This is one place to start.

  5. July 24, 2017 6:09 pm

    Don’t forget the millions of households that are not on the gas main but rely on oil for heating.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      July 25, 2017 1:09 pm

      They are the lucky ones. They won’t get blown up in a hydrogen leak and oil is cheap.

  6. mwhite permalink
    July 24, 2017 6:15 pm

    I see Shukman’s in denial.

    • HotScot permalink
      July 24, 2017 6:41 pm


      I do laugh sometimes when I see comments like the one under the photo of pack ice

      “Biological darkening has not been built into scientists’ climate projections”

      So what else haven’t they dialled into their calculations.

      You don’t know, what you don’t know. Not only are there too many variables in the planets climate to possibly stitch them all together to reach a definable conclusion, there is also so much scientists don’t yet know.

      So it seems anti scientific to find the culprit before embarking upon the investigation.

      But I’m not a scientist. I was a policeman and we frequently found a suspect before we collated the evidence, however, we had to be prepared to set the suspect free if the evidence didn’t pan out. The alarmists don’t want to absolve CO2 because its the only suspect they have, and all they’re doing is trying to build a case, which is corrupt.

      • July 25, 2017 11:38 am

        You perfectly stated the situation: “You don’t know, what you don’t know. Not only are there too many variables in the planets climate to possibly stitch them all together to reach a definable conclusion, there is also so much scientists don’t yet know.”

        This is exactly why the so-called “models” don’t work. Not enough is known about anything to result in a reliable model. And we don’t know what is we don’t know and what is important.

        So “models” can be tweaked and shaped to say whatever the Michael Manns and his fake science colleagues wish. Handy.

    • Athelstan permalink
      July 24, 2017 6:45 pm

      Shukman, another prize beeb knob head and where, the competition is fearsomely stiff.

      On other matters, I do declare that de-carbonization of the UK economy has not been properly……..”properly”…well should I say that no proper thought was ever involved in this lunatic green vision – but what’s new? Evidently the people who propose this [these] sorts of dumbass schemes are dumber than dumbass.

      Ever so much Paul, this sort of lunacy vexes me a tad, allegorically too.

      Imagine, a puff of ether static, a pebble will shift ever so slightly and no one at first would bat even a dermal hair. Next, someone will notice that – there’s been no birdsong for 48 hours, no critturs spotted anywhere and after that, the western most part of California will shear off into the briney.

      And the experts will say, “God dang! no one saw that coming!”

    • richard verney permalink
      July 25, 2017 4:00 am

      From the article;

      Algae were first observed on the Greenland ice sheet more than a century ago but until recently its potential impact was ignored. Only in the last few years have researchers have started to explore how the microscopically small plants could affect future melting.


      One concern now is that rising temperatures will allow algae to flourish not only on the slopes of the narrow margins of the ice-sheet but also on the flat areas in the far larger interior where melting could happen on a much bigger scale.

      And yet Greenland today is no warmer than it was in 1940, and this year there has been extensive snowfall leading to an extensive increase in the mass of the central part of the Greenland Icecap

      Typical of a BBC journalist not to check the facts.

      • dave permalink
        July 25, 2017 7:22 am

        The chain of fear is something for psychiatrists to comment on – especicially experts in obsessive-compulsive anxiety. Apparently if I burn some gas in my home, the CO2 will make it warmer in Greenland, where algae will grow on the surface and absorb so much heat from the sun that thousands of gigatonnes of ice will be melted every year*.

        How much sunlight can algae absorb before exploding? Science without quantification is not even stamp-collecting.

        *Do not talk to me about meltpools. Half of Greenland is already covered in meltpools at this time of year.

      • dennisambler permalink
        July 25, 2017 8:46 am

        They always report on ice matters in the height of the Arctic summer, when they can show lots of clear water and hopefully some icebergs calving. Meanwhile Greenland ice accumulation is at a long time high.

        Pen Haddow is embarking on another mission where he will need rescuing:

  7. John Cooknell permalink
    July 24, 2017 6:33 pm

    Global warming will sort this out, according to climate scientists models, soon we will not need to heat our houses in winter.!!!

    • Gerry, England permalink
      July 25, 2017 1:10 pm

      Ask them how that is going in Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and a large part of Brasil? And for the second winter in a row. Little Ice Age starting in the southern hemisphere?

      • Hivemind permalink
        July 25, 2017 1:22 pm

        Let’s not allow a few inconvenient facts to get in the way of a perfectly good theory.

  8. stuartlarge permalink
    July 24, 2017 11:24 pm

    Using gas for heating and cooking is the most efficient way of using it (maybe 90% plus) using it to generate electricity is at best 36 to 40%.
    It is inconceivable to have a supply of gas and not use it, and not use it in the way that is most efficient, flexible and reliable.

    • Athelstan permalink
      July 25, 2017 7:26 am

      Bloody well said……………..if the world – nay Britain even paid lip service to rationale, logical thought – the green agenda would be still – what it always was, a figment.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      July 25, 2017 1:12 pm

      Yes, I noticed that a change in just a few units of gas consumption changes my overall energy consumption far more than changes in electricity used.

  9. daveR permalink
    July 25, 2017 12:16 am

    Spent a few hours earlier today splitting shales within a stones throw of the now redundant coal-fired Longannet power station. Rated 2.4GW, latterly reduced to about 1.9GW, alone it regularly produced the equivalent of between a third and a half of Scottish electricity demand, knocking out reliable kWhrs at about 4 pence a unit. This from a site occupying maybe about a thousand acres, with enormous coal reserves literally beneath its foundations (qv. Drax).

    Whilst the ancient ‘shark’ prospecting didn’t prove too successful, it was notable on driving back into Stirling that the entire 32x2MW Braes O’ Doune wind fleet was essentially static, This was 6pm – peak demand time – yet not a generated Watt,

    Can I ask: do/will the operators at BO’D (despite undoubted good site wind speeds) receive constraint payments for peak load time inactivity?

    A not inconsequential wee aside: the BO’D windfarm generates about a £Million/pa for the landowner, the Earl of Moray (Estates), or about three grand a day, guaranteed by government. Says it all, really.

    Interesting to know, too, that Scottish renewables generation policy is a ‘non-reserved’ matter, with current Scot’s Gov CO_2 reduction/electrification targets exceeding UK Gov targets. I’ll betcha them 3mm cusps were near laughing their denticles off…

    • Athelstan permalink
      July 25, 2017 7:28 am

      depressing, very depressing stuff.

  10. CheshireRed permalink
    July 25, 2017 8:32 am

    Yet more attempts by Michael Mann to revise climate history, this time from pre-industrial times.

    20th century data against AGW? Solution, adjust data.
    21st century data against AGW? Solution, adjust data.
    And now if 19th century data is against AGW? Solution, adjust data.

    • July 25, 2017 11:45 am

      Well, Mikey just got a slap-down by the Canadian courts. He has a case against Mark Steyn in the US courts. Hopefully, he will received another slap-shot. To disagree with Mikey is to incur his wrath and that of his lawyers.

  11. Max Sawyer permalink
    July 25, 2017 10:30 am

    “Astronomically expensive” – no problem, just confiscate even more of our money. Governments have always regarded taxpayers as bottomless pits, especially where pointless “greenery” is concerned.

  12. July 25, 2017 11:36 am

    Professor Paul Howarth, CEO of the National Nuclear Laboratory, explains that decarbonisation of our energy system involves increasing the grid size fourfold – from 80 GW to 320 GW to cater for 75 GW [or maybe even 100 GW] of nuclear power.

    This is 12:30 minutes-worth of video worth watching by everybody. At 7:50 “…ramp up the nukes…” and then the model works and decarbonisation [electrically] is muted:

  13. Dung permalink
    July 25, 2017 1:52 pm

    Right now it is not necessary to involve science in condemning our government, we just need to look at the Paris agreement (it should be X rated).
    The UK is supposedly decarbonising its economy to fight climate change at the exact same time as large parts of the world are building coal fired power stations like they are (really are) going out of fashion. Coal is cheaper than renewables and therefore our government is clearly depriving our economy of the cheap energy that other nations are free to use all the time. This has to be based on the UN policy of the developed world paying while the developing nations advance. The UK government is clearly and demonstrably acting against the best interests of the UK economy and of its people.

    • Jack Broughton permalink
      July 25, 2017 6:40 pm

      exactly right, Dung, but the moral high ground is being maintained irrespective of future damage and common sense.

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