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Freezing Britain Running Out Of Gas And Electricity

March 1, 2018

By Paul Homewood





Britain’s energy system is getting close to critical status, with the current spell of cold weather.

With demand close to 50GW, coal power is running flat out. There is still about 10GW of CCGT capacity available, but only thanks to wind still providing a similar amount. Unusually for such cold weather, it has been pretty windy this week, particularly with Storm Emma knocking on the door.

These figures would suggest wind power is currently running at about 70% of capacity, but this won’t be maintained with quieter weather forecast from Saturday into next week.

What happens when that coal capacity is finally shut down is anybody’s guess.


The French I/C is also running at full blast, with France itself generating at near to full capacity:





But it is not only the power grid that is creaking. Supplies of natural gas are also at critical levels. This morning the National Grid released this news:




On the face of it, we could not increase CCGT generation if we wanted to, as there is no gas spare.

These problems have re-ignited calls to get on with fracking. Proactive Investors report:

Dramatic weather hitting the United Kingdom is providing ammunition for the proponents of the embryonic shale gas industry.

After more than 24 hours of snow and freezing conditions, with most of the country’s kids staying home from school, The National Grid PLC (LON:NG.) has cautioned that it is running low on gas.

It has sparked calls for the UK to seize the shale opportunity which promises to be a significant domestic source of gas which would reduce the country’s dependence upon foreign imports.

“The UK is worryingly dependent on gas imports and this is forecast to increase to 80% by 2035,” said Ken Cronin, chief executive of industry group UK Onshore Oil and Gas.

Cronin added: “Given that nearly 50% of our electricity is produced by gas and 84% of our homes are heated with it, the need to ensure we have our own homegrown source of gas rather than pursuing this continued over-reliance on imports has today become very evident.

“We believe that the right way forward is to produce British natural gas from shale onshore and we are working hard to achieve this goal.”

Firms such as Cuadrilla, IGas Energy and Third Energy are at the forefront of Britain’s shale gas industry and new projects are lined up for 2018 and 2019, but, progress has been slow – at least partially due to local politics and permitting issues.

Platts report that the GMB union want to push on with fracking as well:

The GMB union urged the UK government to urgently review its energy policy.
"When National Grid issues a worrying gas warning like this you know things are serious," Stuart Fegan, GMB National Officer for Energy, said.
"Our government needs to wake up to the reality that an urgent inquiry in costly gas price hikes caused by interrupted supply is needed. The Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy needs to get off the fence with numerous planning applications it is presiding over and help the UK onshore gas industry establish itself to support our energy security," Fegan said.


The UK relies on imports for more than half of its gas, mainly from Europe which is itself suffering from extreme cold and shortage of gas.



The Wind Europe lobbying website shows how windy it was yesterday, with loading of 43% and 78% for onshore and offshore wind respectively across Europe. This equates to about 71GW.




71GW is close to the record set last year, and is in no way sustainable.

As we saw during winter months last year, wind output often dropped to below 40GW.


To increasingly rely on imported gas and electricity, as the government plans, is taking unacceptable risks with our energy security.

There are two obvious steps we should be taking now:

1) Abandon all plans to phase out coal power stations, until we have something else to replace them.

2) Get fracking

  1. saxonboy permalink
    March 1, 2018 7:17 pm

    The GMB will be disappointed if Miliband lite Corbyn gets his hands on the wheel, his bunch of Lefty Greens won’t entertain Fracking…problem.

  2. TinyCO2 permalink
    March 1, 2018 7:29 pm

    I thought it was odd that our nuclear isn’t at capacity.

    • Geoffrey Bancroft permalink
      March 1, 2018 7:39 pm

      3 are down 2 refuelling and ones tripped, another one has a marine life problem and is running at 50% its on the edf site

    • Stuart Brown permalink
      March 1, 2018 8:33 pm

      You can see what they are up to here, although it’s only updated daily:

      As you can see, somebody decided it would be a good idea to have a planned statutory outage at Hartlepool 1 in the middle of winter. Hartlepool 2 has just been restarted after a planned outage in the middle of winter, and hiccuped. Sizewell B has just restarted after refuelling in the middle of winter and had a hiccup on one turbine. Looking closely, you may note that Hinckley Point B4 is about to be taken out for a statutory outage – in the middle of winter.

      Did I mention it’s the middle of winter?

      • quaesoveritas permalink
        March 1, 2018 9:06 pm

        Technically meteorological winter is now over, although astronomical winter still as a couple of weeks to go.
        There were obviously expecting spring weather by now!

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        March 1, 2018 9:09 pm

        Well, officially winter ended today in the electricity market: it’s the first day outside the triad period (no, not some Chinese conspiracy, but the period when large consumers get assessed and billed on how much power they use in the three heaviest demand half hours). So today they had less incentive to economise during the evening rush hour. We saw the highest demand of the year at just over 50GW – which rather throws into question whether the recent t-4 capacity auction procured sufficient capacity.

  3. March 1, 2018 7:31 pm

    Be careful over there and stay warm!

  4. Chilli permalink
    March 1, 2018 7:35 pm

    It’s come to a pretty pass when it takes a union to try and talk sense to the green loonies running UK energy policy. The prime objective of Tory energy policy appears to be virtue signalling to bedwetting teenage voters who’ve been brainwashed into thinking non-solutions to the non-existent threat of global warming should be the top priority of government.

  5. mikewaite permalink
    March 1, 2018 7:39 pm

    Any word from Claire Perry ?
    Just a tweet even?

    • Athelstan permalink
      March 1, 2018 7:49 pm

      like er………….#champagnesocialist@claireperry 22.00 hrs and no solar – WHY, I demand to know WHY?

  6. Keith permalink
    March 1, 2018 7:46 pm

    No there will be no word from Perry, she is totally out of her depth and is a warmist greenie anyway, so is totally incompetent and unsuited for the job. All wants to do is find a way of putting up more useless windmills.

  7. SteveT permalink
    March 1, 2018 7:58 pm

    Slightly o/t, but I’d be interested about how EV coped with being stuck on snowbound roads for some time; in the cold. Pretty sure you wouldn’t be able to keep warm in the car all night. Then it would need recharging, along with everyone else’s EV.
    Did anyone else see that coming…?

    • John F. Hultquist permalink
      March 2, 2018 5:10 am

      If your EV owners are dumb enough to be out in a predicted blizzard — they are due a Darwin Award.

      If I lived there, and if I owned an EV, it would have been fully charged and parked a week ago.
      I would have a bottle or 2 of Port and a warm blanket over my feet.

    • Paddy permalink
      March 2, 2018 7:46 am

      This will encourage EV sales, won’t it?

  8. March 1, 2018 8:02 pm

    “There are two obvious steps we should be taking now:

    1) Abandon all plans to phase out coal power stations, until we have something else to replace them.

    2) Get fracking.”

    They are obvious to scientists and engineers, but are beyond the comprehension of arts graduates and PPE graduates. They think electricity just magically comes out of a wire and gas just magically comes out of a pipe.

    • Athelstan permalink
      March 1, 2018 8:28 pm

      that very sadly is a very true synopsis, a very stark observation, small wonder it is then, why an imminent energy crisis is nigh.

      One more thing I might add, albeit it certainly was not a return to energy policy sanity. However, during the days of call me dave and gidiot, if they themselves didn’t see and read writing on the wall it was being at least noticed (somewhere in Whitehall) an – imminent energy crisis, thus was deemed, the closure of coal fired plant was almost reversed.

      IN another mental turnabout – pushed by mutti and micron?……….. under the curse of old mother treeza of mayhem this sensible idea (preserving coal fired plant) was booted out into deep space whence they cameth and green loonies both, amber and claire allowed to shut coal plant with unbridled as it is numb brained glee.

    • Bitter@twisted permalink
      March 2, 2018 8:24 am

      PPE- the greatest destroyer of common sense known.

      • 3x2 permalink
        March 2, 2018 5:47 pm

        Thought PPE was one of those fancy new ‘disco’ drugs all the kids were taking these days. One where years of use subtracts significantly from whatever IQ you once may have had.

      • catweazle666 permalink
        March 2, 2018 7:43 pm

        “PPE- the greatest destroyer of common sense known.”

        And, when combined with an MBA…

    • Bitter@twisted permalink
      March 2, 2018 8:27 am

      Whilst the arts graduates are too busy waiting for Godot to know what day of week it is, never mind how useless “renewables” are.

      • Athelstan permalink
        March 2, 2018 9:03 am

        Arts grads, even in my day they were the thickies but at least they could add up and write, nowadays as concerning functional literacy and ‘sums’ – they can’t even do that.

  9. Joe Public permalink
    March 1, 2018 8:20 pm

    Our Dutch friends have been helping where feasible.

    Historic flows over the past year from Balgzand (NL) into Bacton (‘Forward flow’) are shown in detail here:

    Notice how they rose as our heating season began.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      March 1, 2018 8:59 pm

      You can see the wider supply picture here:

      Note that Belgian supply is really mainly by pipeline from Norway and LNG landed at Dunkirk, while Dutch supply also includes Norwegian gas landed just over the border at Emden. It does not include any Groningen production, which gets distributed in its own dedicated network, as it is low calorific value.

      We have been using up some Russian gas landed at Dragon LNG by the Christophe de Margerie: we could probably do with diverting her present voyage to Montoir into Grain which is only 20% full – i.e. almost empty.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      March 1, 2018 10:25 pm

      A longer timescale perspective on imports – back to 2000 – split by origin and type. In reality, Norwegian pipeline supply dominates (especially when you add in more coming via Belgium and the Netherlands), and has been squeezing out LNG, which is in turn historically dominate by supply from Qatar (partly because of long term contracts).

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        March 1, 2018 10:37 pm

        Norway was 75%+ of UK gas imports in 2017.

  10. RAH permalink
    March 1, 2018 8:38 pm

    There is absolutely no sane reason for a developed nation like the UK to be worrying about fuel and electrical generating capacity when they get a cold blast or a heat wave. No sane reason! What is going to happen if we are in fact slipping into colder times like the 1970s? Or worse yet, the great fluctuations of hot and cold as during some of the 30’s?
    BTW, a little OT but I thought it was great. Actor Michael Caine was asked were he stood on Brexit. His answer was brilliant:
    ” I’m in favor of Brexit actually, because I’d rather be a poor master of my own fate than a rich servant of someone else’s.”

    • 3x2 permalink
      March 2, 2018 8:02 pm

      If you have a firm belief that those conditions can never return then anything is possible.

      It’s like a dog chewing off it own leg because it firmly believes that it will never need it.

      Insanity. At best, if you are a climate botherer, you are off-shoring your carbon guilt. Atmospheric C02 isn’t going to change trajectory until we run out of fossil fuel. All you are doing is buying eg Chinese Steel instead of British. The CO2 requirements are exactly the same.

      Keep an eye on …

      Tell me when the trajectory changes …

      (Point out the signing of Kyoto or any other agreements for that matter)

      • 3x2 permalink
        March 2, 2018 8:12 pm

        “Atmospheric C02 isn’t going to change trajectory until we run out of fossil fuel. ”

        To be clear … If we assume that we there are no other options that are currently under investigation.

  11. It doesn't add up... permalink
    March 1, 2018 8:44 pm

    The gas situation remains extremely tight. Here is a chart showing gas stocks in storage including at LNG terminals:

    It’s easy to see that there is less than a week of storage at present levels of delivery before it runs out altogether. So we need problems with North Sea production to end, warmer weather, and plenty of LNG cargoes: a Q-max from Qatar is about 1.8TWh, and a Yamal cargo is about 1 TWh. We’ve been running down the storage at 1 Q-max per day in this cold snap. At present, there are no LNG tankers expected in UK ports in the next 72 hours.

    The total remaining storage with Rough now closed is just 26TWh: that is not a lot to play with.

    • Joe Public permalink
      March 2, 2018 12:27 am

      Very interesting; disconcerting even.

      • Athelstan permalink
        March 2, 2018 9:01 am

        good post, very interesting and at the same time, extremely depressing.

    • Jack Broughton permalink
      March 2, 2018 3:21 pm

      What on earth happened on 4th December: did someone sell off most of our gas?
      Great details of the gas situation, thanks.

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        March 3, 2018 12:39 pm

        The sharp down moves in ullage – storage availability – (green line) are the result of progressive closure of Rough. The dark blue is the total in store. Because Rough was closing there was no attempt to fill it ahead of winter (indeed, its remaining volumes were run down). We started winter with storage about half full – but most of the empty space was at Rough, so the rest of the storage was quite full. We’re ending with it close to empty.

  12. March 1, 2018 9:31 pm

    Another weather angle is the very (unacceptably) poor performance of electric cars in cold weather. Not only does running the heater drain the battery like crazy, but the battery capacity itself drops badly in low temperatures.

    Luckily none of the stranded motorists was in an EV, otherwise there might have been the first genuine “climate change” death in the UK.

  13. duker permalink
    March 1, 2018 9:47 pm

    is there a reason why French total electricity demand is so much higher, 87GW against UK demand of 50GW ? They are roughly comparable in size, industry and population.

    • mikewaite permalink
      March 1, 2018 10:24 pm

      I read ( it might have been here) that the French use electricity for most of the domestic purposes like heating and cooking whilst here many of us have gas combi boilers and gas top hobs and ovens.

    • clipe permalink
      March 1, 2018 10:25 pm

      I read somewhere that electricity heats most French homes.

    • Joe Public permalink
      March 2, 2018 12:33 am

      We use much gas for heating; they use electricity from the era when their nukes were favoured.

      UK gas consumption ~892TWh

      French gas consumption ~468TWh

    • March 2, 2018 11:00 am

      I would guess we use a lot more gas

  14. charles wardrop permalink
    March 1, 2018 9:53 pm

    As to highup politicians who might be able to explain the dire UK energy problems to their higher up Tory (or other) colleagues, I guess Owen Paterson could do so, even if he is not yet recovered from a recent riding injury.

    Does anyone reading these blogs know him?
    If so, please encourage him to wise them up, and, for that matter, drop almost the whole Green nonsense, so deluding and wasteful, often insanely so!

    (The SNP/Green Party people would be refractory, however.)

  15. It doesn't add up... permalink
    March 1, 2018 10:45 pm

    Footnote: 10GW of extra CCGT in use would consume the best part of 0.5TWh of gas per day.

  16. March 2, 2018 6:00 am

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.

  17. Robin Guenier permalink
    March 2, 2018 7:51 am

    Once again, coal is this morning making a greater contribution (25.4%) to UK electricity demand than CCGT (21.9%) and even wind (24.2%) – despite it being a particularly windy day:

    • Athelstan permalink
      March 2, 2018 9:09 am

      Aye, it’s still fairly blowy outside, what I want to know is this, if as seems likely the easterlies drop away to nought during the next few days, temperatures will remain cold- ish, without the wind blowing the whirlygigs shut down and with gas reserves running very low (see above) – wtf are national grid going to do to take up the slack ie, compensate for wind @ ~ 24%?

    • A C Osborn permalink
      March 2, 2018 9:13 am

      And we are sitting on 250+ years of the stuff as well.
      Let’s leave it in the ground and become totally reliant on imports instead.
      Energy Security my Ar$e.

      • Athelstan permalink
        March 2, 2018 10:48 am

        UK ‘energy policy’ bodged, and fashioned by the green ar$e$ of Westminster.

  18. Derek Buxton permalink
    March 2, 2018 11:21 am

    I just heard that the “National Grid” have removed the scare story. And yet when it started it was said that there were no supplies of gas were en route. Why the sudden turnround? Incompetence would be my favourite added to stupidity. Simple answer, sack the top men without any benefits and put in someone who knows how to provide the Country with a secure, affordable proper National grid

    • Athelstan permalink
      March 2, 2018 11:39 am

      They can withdraw the story because erm maybe and just purely speculating you do understand.

      i. mother theresa doesn’t want the UK population to be scared shi7less.
      ii. the speculators have made it’s money after shorting the prices and telling the media that they were running out of gas and now returning to lower spot prices can buy back at cheaper, double whammy.
      iii, the EU has suddenly found some LNG. piped reserves it can let us have.
      iv, the national grid just like telling it how it ‘could be’.

      We’ll never know, what the real truth is, if I was being really cynical, how do we know the grid estimates are kosher, a couple of days ago they had solar running at 7% or summat, which is hard to credit, wind running now at 9 GW – maybe.

      Why would they fiddle?

      hmm, why wouldn’t they, if nothing else than to big up and to justify the £gazillions wasted on renewable palliatives – it’s ever so convenient, for the political claque and green blob, isn’t it?

    • March 2, 2018 2:11 pm

      Yes, I wondered where those miraculous “supplies” had suddenly come from!

      I suspect the NG have been leaned on by the govt, so they can avoid criticism

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        March 2, 2018 4:11 pm

        iii seems to be the right answer: there was an increase in shipments on the interconnectors from Belgium and the Netherlands: between them now shipping at 120mscm/d, compared with just 33mscm/d on 28th, against demand running at around 400mscm/d. Meanwhile the System Buy Price has reached 499p/therm – more than ten times its level in late January.

        It could well be partly Russian gas: the LNG terminals at Rotterdam and Dunkirk have both been taking deliveries from Yamal in recent weeks. The Fedor Litke discharged at Rotterdam on the 28th Feb, and the Eduard Toll on the 19th. Balgzand is the other end of the country though.

  19. March 2, 2018 11:29 am

    Reblogged this on WeatherAction News and commented:
    A warning of what lies ahead. This cold spell has been windy but quite often an anticyclone sets in behind snowfall with temperatures and winds dropping accordingly. W may not be so lucky in future.

  20. March 2, 2018 1:02 pm

    “What happens when that coal capacity is finally shut down is anybody’s guess.”

    Uh…..freeze in the dark?

    • mikewaite permalink
      March 2, 2018 6:41 pm

      My guess is that the subsequent rioting, arson and looting will produce plenty of light and heat.

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