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Gas Demand Peaks In Winter

March 21, 2018

By Paul Homewood


h/t Dave Ward



I have shown this graph before. It is an estimation of half hourly demand for natural gas for heating, as compared with total electricity demand, and was included in a report by the Parliamentary Advisory Group on Carbon Capture and Storage in 2016.


I was wondering what it would look like during the recent spell of cold weather. The chart below is from the National Grid, and gives daily data in million cubic meters:




It would deem that demand for gas actually spiked much higher than the Imperial College reconstruction showed, which itself was based on the cold winters in 2010. Moreover, the NG daily figures would themselves underestimate peak half hourly demand.

This poses enough problems for gas supply, but could cripple the electricity system, if domestic heating and other users of gas were to be electrified. We could easily be looking at a situation where demand for electricity could peak at ten times the current peak.


The Parliamentary Advisory Group’s Report concluded:




They were, in a polite way, basically saying that electrification of heat on any large scale was a non starter. Given what we have learnt in the last few weeks, the message is even starker. If the country had been relying solely on electricity this winter, the grid would probably have melted, figuratively if not literally!


Oxburgh’s Report went on to recommend a large scale switchover to hydrogen networks, if decarbonisation targets were to be achieved:





I have looked at this “solution” before, and as we know it would be a horrifyingly expensive system, both to set up in the first place and to run.

But steam reforming does not even solve the problem of CO2, as Oxburgh goes on to acknowledge:




Although small amounts of CO2 might be usable, the default position is that it would still all have to be piped away for storage.

It seems we are no nearer solving the problem of how we heat our homes and at the same time meet decarbonisation targets.

  1. Chris, Leeds permalink
    March 21, 2018 7:42 pm

    You are right about the costs of a hydrogen network. I live in Leeds, which apparently is set to be the ‘experiment’ for converting the domestic gas supply to a hydrogen network. The local media reported that capital costs would be £2billion for Leeds alone. With a population of 750,000 scaling up to the full UK population of 66 million would imply a capital cost for the UK of approx £180 billion – and presumably much more given the extensive pipelines to serve rural areas…

    • Keith permalink
      March 21, 2018 7:55 pm

      Oh no problem as far as Claire Perry is concerned, just get the consumed to pay for it. I believe that is her stance.

    • Athelstan permalink
      March 21, 2018 8:28 pm

      wouldnot it be better just to NUKE Leeds?

  2. March 21, 2018 8:04 pm

    The energy policy madness beggars belief. But then again, we have been governed for over 20 years by an establishment made up mostly of people who can at best be described as deluded idiots, and at worst, something not repeatable.

  3. Athelstan permalink
    March 21, 2018 8:27 pm

    I kept waiting and waiting for the graun to announce the big news flash from the BEIS:

    #shock and lies, ‘dead of winter, the beast from the east is beaten by wind energy, no gas used on coldest day evah’…………………

  4. Joe Public permalink
    March 21, 2018 8:30 pm

    “It would deem that demand for gas actually spiked much higher than the Imperial College reconstruction showed, ”

    They use different y-axis units.

    The parliamentary chart is GW over 1/2-hour; National Grid’s is ‘mscm’ (million standard cubic metres) per day.

    A standard cubic metre of gas is approx 10.42kWh to 11.94kWh (i.e. 37.5 MJ/m3 to 43.0 MJ/m3).

    “Calorific value (CV) is a measure of heating power and is dependent upon the composition of the gas. The CV refers to the amount of energy released when a known volume of gas is completely combusted under specified conditions. The CV of gas, which is dry, gross and measured at standard conditions of temperature (15oC) and pressure (1013.25 millibars), is usually quoted in megajoules per cubic metre (MJ/m3). Gas passing through our pipeline system has a CV of 37.5 MJ/m3 to 43.0 MJ/m3.”

    Assume say 11.2 kWh/m3

    Therefore 1mscm is approx 11,200,000 kWh or 11.2GWh; the 1st March peaked at a *rate* of approx 480 x 11.2GWh = 5,376 GWh – BUT THAT INCLUDES SOME INJECTION INTO STORAGE

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      March 22, 2018 2:50 pm

      That is GWh/day, which translates to average demand of 224GW. How that relates to peak demand intra day is a trickier question. But we could work it out the other way on by taking say 19 million 15kW boilers plus 15 million stoves being run at 5kW which comes to 360GW. Replace some domestic consumption by industrial consumption to taste. Those with NEST and HIVE systems will of course need their boilers to be running flat out to warm their homes while they commute home, since they will have let the temperature drop back during the day.

  5. Joe Public permalink
    March 21, 2018 8:45 pm

    “Oxburgh’s Report went on to recommend a large scale switchover to hydrogen networks ….”

    Everybody (now!) knows storage is the overarching issue.

    Energy storage capacity of natural gas per unit volume is approx three & a half times greater than for hydrogen. Nat gas at approx 39.05MJ/m3 ± 2.47 11.88MJ/m3 ± 0.01

    If we’re short of energy storage using Nat Gas, we’ll have merely a quarter of that amount if that energy is in Hydrogen.

    • Mike Jackson permalink
      March 22, 2018 11:00 am

      Is emitting water vapour preferable to emitting carbon dioxide?

      Since both are greenhouse gases and water vapour apparently more potent than CO2 in that regard the answer, in the real world, would appear to be ‘no’. It would be interesting to get an answer from an enviro-activist. With reasons!

      • JasG permalink
        March 22, 2018 4:18 pm

        Said activist would give you a reply about long CO2 residence times versus short H2O residence times.

  6. Coeur de Lion permalink
    March 21, 2018 8:51 pm

    Didn’t Lord Oxburgh chair the whitewash of the Climategate gang that was described as ‘ beyond parody incompetent’?

    • Paddy permalink
      March 22, 2018 7:37 am

      Yes he did, and how anybody can believe a word this charlatan says is beyond belief – except the pollies themselves, of course.

  7. March 21, 2018 9:47 pm

    But, but, but…..What about Global Warming??? We don’t need no gas burning to heat our hearts, er, ah, hearths. Just carry on, as normal! We’ll be toasty!

    • March 22, 2018 6:29 am

      Yes, which makes him the ideal person to chair a Parliamentary Advisory Group.

  8. Derek Buxton permalink
    March 21, 2018 10:01 pm

    Simple, Scrap the no carbon plan and scrap the Climate Change Act…..problem solved.

    • March 22, 2018 11:47 am

      That is what we did. And, as a bonus, we are scrapping much of the EPA under Director, Scott Pruitt.

      The dangerous WOTUS (Waters of the US) would have made a puddle in your yard following heavy rain grounds for a wetland decree and Federal regulation of your whole property. Under Pruitt, that has also been “swamped.”

  9. Joe Public permalink
    March 21, 2018 10:23 pm

    It should be noted that the gas ‘bars’ on Robert Sansom’s chart show *estimated* national half hourly *heat* demand (red) for 2010.

    The National Grid chart is of *total* gas supplied – which includes the proportion burnt in power stations, and, that *peak-capacity* figure has risen since 2010. (Annual gas consumption by power stations has decreased, but during a lull, especially after sunset, the peak has risen.)

  10. stuartlarge permalink
    March 21, 2018 10:44 pm

    I have worked with hydrogen,
    It is horrible stuff it is so less dense that stopping it leaking is extremely difficult.
    That was a small system designed for generator cooling, imagine a nation wide system.

    • roger permalink
      March 21, 2018 11:04 pm

      I suggest trials begin immediately in the Houses of Parliament.

    • Joe Public permalink
      March 22, 2018 8:36 am

      It was a hydrogen explosion (not a nuke explosion), which blew the roofs off Fukushima’s containment buildings.

      • March 22, 2018 11:49 am

        Remember the Hindenburg. Hydrogen instead of helium.

  11. stuartlarge permalink
    March 21, 2018 11:00 pm

    Also any system has to be purged of air, because any hydrogen/air mixture is dangerous, we used CO2 to drive out the air before we could fill with hydrogen, a long complicated task.
    How they would do it on installation and maintenance, I can’t imagine.

  12. March 22, 2018 7:11 am

    There is no current solution except abandoning the decarbonization efforts. Since new energy technologies take about 100 years to become wide spread it seems we can not expect a solution this century. The other reality is that CO2 emissions are not a problem but a solution to world hunger.

  13. Phoenix44 permalink
    March 22, 2018 8:55 am

    Why is this a surprise? Why would we not now have the best way of providing energy? That’s not to say that tomorrow some bright spark might come up with something, but these politicians seem to think that because the state hasn’t been involved before, we have just used whatever is to hand.

    Fossil fuels are by far the best energy source we have because they are relatively safe to store and transport, relatively high in energy and can be stored relatively cheaply forever (because they already have been).

    The idea that having a bunch of MPs sit down and listen to a few people will somehow change any of that is totally insane.

  14. March 22, 2018 9:48 am

    Night storage heaters could become popular if gas heating is ever restricted/banned.

  15. Jack Broughton permalink
    March 22, 2018 10:58 am

    Maybe not explicitly planned but the outcome of all this is that industry will reduce / leave the UK, so far less productive jobs. Insufficient green-power and heat available: therefore prices increase rapidly; killing-off the poor and old, reducing pension liabilities and welfare costs massively; bigger crematoria with full CCS linked to district heating …… … problem solved and fully green. OMG, maybe this is the plan!

    • March 22, 2018 12:00 pm

      That was certainly the plan in the US. Obama took us a long way further down that road and Hillary was to finish us off. Instead we finished her off and she is still wandering around in the world’s woods mouthing excuses for her loss and falling down stairs.

      Her latest was to a group of women in India where she declared that President Trump would not want Indian women to have jobs. Apparently she missed that former South Carolina Governor, Nikki Haley (a first generation Indian-American woman) is President Trump’s choice as US Ambassador to the United Nations. Not only is she kicking butt, she is taking names. Hillary, your name might just be on her list.

      The Democrats want her to “shut up and go away.” However, we love her as their accurate face. She is the poster child for entitled leftists everywhere.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      March 22, 2018 2:54 pm

      Instead of Soylent Green, Carbon Captured Cremation?

  16. JasG permalink
    March 22, 2018 4:34 pm

    It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the government needs better advisors.

  17. It doesn't add up... permalink
    March 22, 2018 7:48 pm

    It’s worth noting that the UK was exporting gas to Belgium (the light blue at the base of the chart) in the height of the gas shortage at the end of February. The system buy price soared to 499p/therm before the flow was reversed. In January, it fell below 50p/therm. In essence we have a bidding war to keep the home fires burning and the lights on.

    • Jack Broughton permalink
      March 23, 2018 12:32 pm

      As well as the mad economics, the UK is at massive security risk by depending upon non-storable unreliable energy. Coal was an excellent energy store that protected the UK from external events: we will soon depend on pipes and shipped LNG. Insecure politically and financially given the ignored lessons of history.

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