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The price of Britain’s mad fracking ban

February 8, 2023

By Paul Homewood




The UK spent £60bn importing gas in just four months to stave off a winter energy crunch, according to analysis from storage experts Highview Power.
Its data reveals that in the absence of renewable energy storage to make the most of record wind generation, the country was forced to purchase expensive fossil fuels when the weather became more volatile over winter.
Britain experienced an unusual combination of wind conditions between this winter between October and January.
Low-carbon power produced 82.5 per cent of Britain’s electricity from 27 December to 9 January, however, the UK also experienced ‘dunkelflaute’ – a German term used widely in the energy sector to refer to cold, still days – when the country experienced little to no wind but still needed energy for heating.
This occurred in both November and mid-January and lack of renewable energy storage during these periods meant the UK was left with no choice but to rely on £60bn of foreign imports of gas to meet consumption needs.
The £60bn figure reflects a vast increase in imports, with data from the Office for National Statistics revealing the UK brought in less than £20bn of gas in 2021 as a whole

Quite why they are surprised by our weather is a mystery. Every winter we get the same mix of windy and wind-less days.

Meanwhile fracking is still banned and Labour want to shut down North Sea gas.

    • February 8, 2023 9:50 am

      Right on

    • Devoncamel permalink
      February 8, 2023 10:36 am

      That should be compulsory reading for everyone.

    • Mike Jackson permalink
      February 8, 2023 1:14 pm

      The point Ed Hoskins makes at the end is the one that needs to be shoved up Sunak’s nose: why would anyone buy a car that costs 10 times more than your current model to run and only works one (random) day a week.
      And why would anyone argue that that would be a sensible basis on which to run the country’s economy?

    • February 16, 2023 1:12 pm

      Graph 1 shows the average output as % of Capacity

  1. Jack Broughton permalink
    February 8, 2023 9:44 am

    Of course our “great and good” leadership will not take notice of this as the mainstream press will not publicise it. This is because they are all obsessive about the amazing CO2 molecule and its magical and mystical powers. Even the madness of Net Zero is not discussed in most of the press who believe that they are saving the world from the devil’s own gas.

    • Mr Robert Christopher permalink
      February 8, 2023 10:10 am

      There is a deindustrialisation agenda in play.

      And the scary Carbon Dioxide molecule, the Gas Of Life, is leading the attack.

      And, to survive the confusion, a Science degree is not helpful 🙂

      You might have noticed that Germany has a bad dose of it, especially their Green Party.

      Is this what makes the EU so attractive to Remainers? Surely not.

      • Harry Passfield permalink
        February 8, 2023 8:02 pm

        Hi Robert. The point I’ve tried to make many times about the vilification of the CO2 molecule is that it is designated as ‘carbon’ – which is black (a bogeyman, if you will) – which is subliminal racism.
        And then? What do I find in the DM/DT today, but a story of the great and the good having a go at the Globe’s new production of Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. Apparently, when you buy a ticket on-line you get a warning – and I quote – ‘Content guidance: the play contains language of violence and racism’. According to the ‘experts’ in these things, in the play Shakespeare creates a ‘dark/light binary’ which casts dark or black as negative and white or fair as positive. So they have decided to hold ‘anti-racist Shakespeare seminars’ to counter it.
        Maybe those who cast CO2 – a colourless gas (often seen as white because of dry ice) – as ‘Carbon’ – a black element, should attend one of these seminars. They have obviously created a ‘black/white binary’ of their very own. It is one of the reasons I hate the use of ‘carbon’ for CO2.

        (Just wanted to get that off my chest…)

  2. Philip Mulholland permalink
    February 8, 2023 9:56 am

    Britain is ruled by the Uniparty.
    We are damned whichever way we vote.

  3. fretslider permalink
    February 8, 2023 10:03 am

    Labour – sorry, Parliament- really hates us

    • February 8, 2023 10:39 am

      And I know it is not April 1st but in the Mail today a group of MPs think that when they lose their seats they should receive a medal for their service to us and a wad of more of our cash. Detached from reality or what?

    • February 8, 2023 11:09 am

      So does the HoL following the vote on the Public Order Bill….

      • fretslider permalink
        February 9, 2023 8:17 am

        Parliament- both corrupt houses

  4. Peter MacFarlane permalink
    February 8, 2023 10:06 am

    This is one of several legacy media pieces recently all basically saying “if only we had more storage”.

    Obviously these are coordinated, such campaigns always are.

    So what’s coming? Anyone know? Anyone care to guess?

    • Jack Broughton permalink
      February 8, 2023 10:14 am

      The answer is a rapidly increasing number of battery farms at a site near you. Even if they are safe (unlikely) they should be at the generating end of the grid.

      • Devoncamel permalink
        February 8, 2023 10:40 am

        They wouldn’t be low carbon of course. Not the UK’s problem, more of an out-of-sight out- of-mind, somewhere in an African mining site problem.

      • February 8, 2023 10:40 am

        An unaffordable non-solution to a problem we don’t need to have.

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      February 8, 2023 11:15 am

      It’s just CCC wishful thinking. Batteries are horribly expensive and very short term but the CCC believes that they will become much cheaper and provide much more storage capacity because…otherwise we won’t have enough electricity. That’s how we think now. Make a huge plan to change our economy fundamentally based on things we need to happen happening. And take a hiome a vast salary for doing so.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      February 8, 2023 12:28 pm

      I think it is angled at fast tracking a subsidy regime for hydrogen. It will be humungously expensive, but we will be told it is essential, and (a lie) it will give us low carbon industry.

      • February 8, 2023 2:11 pm

        Well said. Hydrogen is another green chimera; fools tilting at windmills. Just because hydrogen fusion powers the Sun don’t make it practical as a green fuel on Earth.

    • Douglas Dragonfly permalink
      February 8, 2023 5:11 pm

      ‘So what’s coming? Anyone know? Anyone care to guess?’
      War ?
      A destinct possibility the way our puppet government and opposition are behaving. Yet again.
      The politicians who are currently in parliament don’t appear to care about such mundane things as gas supplies.
      So by default do not care about the people of this land.
      Make no mistake this is by design not accident – making it so much worse.
      Round my way they are digging up the road to lay new pipes. We are being told this is necessary due to hydrogen supply.

  5. AC Osborn permalink
    February 8, 2023 10:07 am

    “Low-carbon power produced 82.5 per cent of Britain’s electricity from 27 December to 9 January”
    According to gridwatch it was 69% if you include both Nuclear (19%) and Biomass (9%).

    • Gamecock permalink
      February 8, 2023 5:49 pm

      What have you done for me lately?

      Until they can provide continuous power, not just a few weeks, they . . . wait . . . they can’t provide continuous power. Tell ’em to come back when they can. We won’t leave the light on.

    • Carol Baker permalink
      February 9, 2023 3:47 pm

      Thank you for that. I did think that 82.5 per cent was an exaggerated figure.

  6. Shalewatcher permalink
    February 8, 2023 10:15 am

    The Telegraph reports that the new Department of Energy is charged with “securing more home grown energy that is clean and affordable. Sunak said this was “mission-critical” for his government, charging Shapps with “securing more home grown energy that is clean and affordable, as fast as possible”. Looks like that will be good for the N Sea and onshore conventional development but I’m not sure fracking will be permitted until the energy emergency breaks through as much as climate.

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      February 8, 2023 11:17 am

      No, it’s code for more wind. Wind is apparently “home grown” even though we don’t make the plant nor do we have the raw materials to either make or maintain the plant. It is just faddish lies.

    • Gamecock permalink
      February 8, 2023 10:19 pm

      “securing more home grown energy that is clean and affordable”

      Pick one.

  7. Mikehig permalink
    February 8, 2023 10:18 am

    I suspect that figure for gas imports masks a key point. We have relatively large capacity for LNG importation and regasification. Aiui, that was in heavy use to help supply the Continent with gas directly and power from gas-fired plants.
    Rather than looking at LNG imports, they should have used the consumption figures, excluding gas burnt for power exports.

    • Mikehig permalink
      February 8, 2023 11:21 am

      A quick websearch reveals:
      Gas: Production +17%; Imports +58%; Exports +369%
      Electricity: Production +12%; Imports -71%; Exports +771%

      So that huge cost for importing LNG has probably been a nice little earner!

      • February 8, 2023 2:31 pm

        Yes, as far as you view the picture, but moving on, had we the fracked gas, we could have still exported the the 771% for an even bigger Brucey Bonus.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      February 8, 2023 12:36 pm

      Indeed so. It will be a while before we get official figures to be able to estimate the mass balances and financial flows, but we can estimate by looking at typical daily exports via Bacton and electricity exports. Some of the gas may be Norwegian production being routed via the UK.

      • Mikehig permalink
        February 8, 2023 2:52 pm

        Those figures were taken from Energy Trends, July to September, published by BEIS. In the write-up they say:
        “Gas used for electricity generation increased by 15 per cent, reaching its highest level since Quarter 1 2018. This was a result of increased overall electricity generation to meet demand for exports to France due to maintenance on the French nuclear fleet.”
        “In Quarter 3 2022 gas exports reached a record high of 82 TWh, higher than total annual exports in 2021. The UK supported European efforts to move away from Russian gas, utilising substantial LNG regasification infrastructure and interconnectors with mainland Europe. Exports were over four times that seen in Quarter 3 2021 and 29 per cent higher than the previous record in Quarter 2 2003. Exports to Belgium and the Netherlands during the quarter were substantially higher than many annual totals from previous years.
        Imports increased by 58 per cent, largely the result of increased imports of LNG. Pipeline imports were sourced entirely from Norway, as Belgian and Dutch interconnectors have been solely used for exports since April 2022.
        LNG imports were almost six times higher than the previous year as the UK operated as a land-bridge for European markets.”

        The article quotes Highview, an energy storage company. They are using this extraordinary situation to advance the case for storage when it is actually fake news.
        If not countered it will become another meme like Milliband’s “gas is 9 times costlier than wind” nonsense.

      • February 8, 2023 10:23 pm

        Gas export ‘bonuses’ are to some extent temporary, as we call upon the European storage of it when things get tight in the UK over winter, having shut down most of our own storage. Then they can charge us a high rate when our options are very limited.

  8. MrGrimNasty permalink
    February 8, 2023 10:25 am

    Shapps is a clueless lunatic, don’t expect anything sensible or helpful.

    • Mike Marsh permalink
      February 8, 2023 11:15 am

      He is indeed, but this might be a plan “so cunning you could brush your teeth with it”… the same lunatic responsible for Net Zero is now also responsible for energy security. Might result in a stalemate in the Net Zero madness.

  9. February 8, 2023 10:36 am

    And now Sushi has created the Department for Lack of Energy and Nut Job Zero. How do such stupid people get to be millionaires?

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      February 8, 2023 11:21 am

      I believe he become one by marrying well.

      His supposed successful business career looks decidedly thin when you really look at it.

      • Stephen H permalink
        February 8, 2023 12:19 pm

        Indeed. He only just stayed long enough at GS to finish the analyst training program

  10. February 8, 2023 10:36 am

    60billion,it’s just a number when it’s not your money you are pissing away

  11. peter lawrenson permalink
    February 8, 2023 10:56 am

    Hello, Mr Osborn. Yes you’re right about wind being the prime electricity generator between those dates quoted,. But either side of those dates, CCGT is the prime source (and looking at the rest of the year as well). Wind is useful in that it reduces the amount of gas burnt for electricity but it is intermittent and gas has to be there to fill in the period when the wind doesn’t blow.

  12. February 8, 2023 11:05 am

    Having UK sourced gas would help a great deal. Fracking is the best and possibly only way to achieve this. As is seems in lightly to happen we are all collectively exporting our wealth to the US shale frackers. This will continue as we loose more and more manufacturing and processing plants as they can’t afford their energy bills. What a mess we are in.

  13. Phoenix44 permalink
    February 8, 2023 11:12 am

    “that in the absence of renewable energy storage to make the most of record wind generation, the country was forced to purchase expensive fossil fuels when the weather became more volatile over winter.”

    This is just gibberish. We didn’t have much overgeneration from wind that we could have stored and storage would be far more expensive than “expensive” gas. As for “become more volatile” what is that supposed to mean?

    The media is apparently now wholly inhabited by poorly-educated and horribly ignorant children.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      February 8, 2023 12:48 pm

      Almost all the curtailment was motivated by lack of transmission capacity to handle Scottish wind farm output. We did have a limited time with zero or negative prices. Storage would have done little to alleviate this.

      However, as capacity is increased we will see much more frequent surplus with no demand via interconnectors at anything above heavily negative prices. However, storage economics would remain challenging for surpluses that are irregular and intermittent and variable in size. You need something at least as predictable as a reasonably regular daily solar surplus over a good portion of the year.

  14. Mike Marsh permalink
    February 8, 2023 11:12 am

    And a tax cut that might cost at most £2b but arguably might equally well have been revenue neutral, brought down a Prime Minister.

  15. Gamecock permalink
    February 8, 2023 11:13 am

    ‘Its data reveals that in the absence of renewable energy storage to make the most of record wind generation’

    ‘This occurred in both November and mid-January and lack of renewable energy storage during these periods meant the UK was left with no choice’

    Petitio principii.

    It is not in evidence that storage would do a damn bit of good.

  16. Gamecock permalink
    February 8, 2023 11:24 am

    ‘the UK was left with no choice but to rely on £60bn of foreign imports of gas to meet consumption needs’

    For how long will you still have power plants that can burn it?

  17. Chris Phillips permalink
    February 8, 2023 12:20 pm

    The basic lunacy of all this seems to rest on the assumption that if all fossil fuel use is discouraged either by cutting off supplies or forcing people to ditch their gas and oil powered boilers, then use of “renewables” (wind and solar) will somehow magically increase. This is despite the fact that there isn’t enough of these to provide all our energy needs and never will be.

  18. W Flood permalink
    February 8, 2023 12:42 pm


  19. February 8, 2023 1:13 pm

    No quotes from the UK Energy czar, Gretta Tuneless? The real problem with the windmills and solar is, the powers that be did not spring for the Magic Unicorns necessary to make the green energy sources work. Do not blame the weather, blame the feckless leadership to cheap to pony up sufficient cash to guarantee an endless supply of Magic Unicorns. Get real, people.

  20. MrGrimNasty permalink
    February 8, 2023 2:29 pm

    Well that’ll be the last time we see her on the BBC!

    • Malcolm Fraser permalink
      February 8, 2023 6:24 pm

      Having scrolled the replies on that video, no wonder we’re in a mess, brainwashing at its best!

  21. John Brown permalink
    February 8, 2023 5:12 pm

    If the purpose of this article is to promote hydrogen storage, then I’m afraid this will not work as it will be necessary to build/install between 8.5 GW and 14.5 GW of wind turbine capacity for each 1 GW of dispatchable power:

    Suppose we want to use the excess energy from wind turbines to store energy for when the wind doesn’t blow using compressed hydrogen as a store of energy:

    This involves electrolysis -> stored, compressed hydrogen gas -> electricity from standard generators as and when required (viz when the wind drops).

    The following simple calculation, based upon power (GW), rather than energy (TWhrs) and thus not requiring an integration of the power/time graph and an estimate of the maximum period of insufficient power when the wind doesn’t blow, gives the amount of installed wind power required for each unit of dispatchable power required :

    Suppose we want P GW of power to be “dispatchable”, meaning always available “on demand”.

    Let us start with P GW of installed wind turbine power and calculate the extra installed capacity required to produce P GW of dispatchable/always available power.

    Taking the “BEIS UK Energy in Brief 2022” figure of 65 TWhrs for 2021 for both onshore and offshore wind and an installed/nameplate capacity of 25 GW gives a capacity factor of 30% [ 65 TWhrs/(25GW x 24 x 365) = 30%

    A capacity factor of 30% means the average amount of power over a year supplied by a wind turbine is 0.3P GW and consequently we will require 0.7P GW of storage.

    Taking the efficiencies as:
    Electrolysis : 60%
    Compression : 87%
    Electricity generation : 60%
    Gives an overall efficiency of 60% x 87% x 60% = 31%

    So the amount of excess power required to produce the missing 0.7P GW is 0.7P GW/0.31 = 2.26P GW

    Since the capacity factor is 30%, this means we will need 2.26P/0.3 = 7.5 P GW of additional installed wind power to provide the needed 0.7P GW of dispatchable power.

    Hence a total of P GW + 7.5 P GW = 8.5P GW of installed wind turbine capacity is required to provide 1 P GW of dispatchable power.

    This is a best case scenario. Electrolysis efficiency will be less than 60% because the power will be intermittent (say 50%) and the hydrogen burning generators will not have an efficiency of 60% because they will not be running at a constant power and hence more like 40-50% efficiency. If these worst case efficiencies are used then the same calculation gives a figure of 14.5 GW of installed wind capacity is required for each 1 GW of dispatchable power.

    So for each 1 GW of reliable/dispatchable/always available power it will be required to install between 8.5 GW and 14.5 GW of wind turbine capacity.

    • February 8, 2023 5:33 pm

      Ecellent analysis, thank you for the effort.

      • John Brown permalink
        February 8, 2023 6:25 pm

        Thank you. I have just sent it again to my MP and I would recommend everyone who is worried that unilateral CAGW/Net Zero will destroy the UK economy to write regularly to their MP on the subject. It does have an effect if they receive sufficient mail.

      • Micky R permalink
        February 8, 2023 10:10 pm

        “… unilateral CAGW/Net Zero will destroy the UK economy ”

        National Grid cost estimate to achieve net zero by 2050 is £3 trillion.

        My estimate is £500 billion to date, which would fix a lot of the UK’s current problems. However, there is another factor to consider: the ongoing lost opportunity cost created by lack of cheap, reliable energy. I don’t know how that would be quantified, but a starting point could be the loss of spending power for many people created by the tripling of domestic energy costs:

        c30 million households, c£2k per annum additional energy cost created by the lack of cheap, reliable domestic energy = c£60 billion per annum.

      • February 8, 2023 11:18 pm

        Excellent points, Micky R. All this green nonsense is straight-up Marxism.

    • Graeme No.3 permalink
      February 9, 2023 12:38 am

      Excellent JB: May I add a few comments?
      Australia is the driest inhabited continent so using 9 tons of water to generate each ton of hydrogen means that the cost of desalination (plant and operating) must be considered here. Also we have plenty of sunshine (largely where rain is less) so some believers in the hydrogen economy think that there could be ‘unlimited & cheap’ electricity available** from PVsolar cells at 23% efficiency (not normally reached the real world).
      Electrolysis is a theoretical 62% efficiency using the high pressure potassium hydroxide method so your 60% estimate looks good. Intermittent (which is what the gullible will work) is 38% theoretical).
      Running hydrogen fuel in a gas turbine would be difficult as the high combustion temperature is likely to ruin the blades. On the other hand there will be a good? output of nitrogen oxides. The maximum efficiency for a single stage turbine is about 40% for continuous operation, and more like 35% for intermittent use.

      **this phrase dates from the start of the “hydrogen economy” in the early 1960’s when fusion was expected to be up & running in 3 years. It reappeared in the late 80’s early 90’s when the “hydrogen economy” was going to be the answer to the non-problem of CARBON sic!

      • Graeme No.3 permalink
        February 9, 2023 4:49 am

        30 years i.e. from 1958, 1968, 1978 etc.

      • Carnot permalink
        February 9, 2023 12:04 pm

        You might like to revise your water estimate. It would require 18 mt of water per ton hydrogen. It would actually be closer to 20 mt water as you would have to have some blowdown to remove impurities. It would have to be demin water. The cheapest option would be reverse osmosis followed by ion exchange. Desalination using mutli stage flash evapotators is more expemsive but can handle the higher salinity. RO becomes expensive when the water TDS increases, as the osmotic pressure is approximately proportional to the TDS (total dissolved solids). Here is a good study on a 1 GW electrolyser concept. If you do the maths and calculate the cost of hydrogen at $0.01 kWh the cost comes in at $5000 pmt just for the power. True cost likely to be $6000-7000 and quite probably much more.

        Click to access ISPT-public-report-gigawatt-green-hydrogen-plant.pdf

      • Mikehig permalink
        February 9, 2023 2:05 pm

        Graeme No3: “Running hydrogen fuel in a gas turbine would be difficult as the high combustion temperature is likely to ruin the blades. On the other hand there will be a good? output of nitrogen oxides.”
        This is a key issue which gets very little attention. According to a government-commissioned study for the UK, the ability of our gas-fired plants to accept hydrogen in the gas supply is very limited. One of the major turbine manufacturers said up to 10% would be feasible; another said none at all.
        So, even if hydrogen could be blended into the gas grid safely – a very big “if” – some or all of the GT plants would need new turbines.
        If they are looking at dedicated H2-fuelled power plants, there’s a way to go. I saw a report last year that Siemens are working to develop a turbine which can accept pure hydrogen. At that time they were up to 50%.

      • February 9, 2023 2:50 pm

        Hydrogen should be limited to chemistry class demonstrations where the electrolysis ends with a POP. Other than that, Hydrogen as a fuel source is a chimera. The problems are endless: metals embritalment, extremely high pressure, limited heat per unit, very his temperatures that will produce NOx. And nat gas utilities limit mixing to 2% H 98% Methane. Dream on. Build or recommission more nuke plants if you want clean energy. All the 100s of $Billions that have been wasted subsidizing green windmills and solar should be directed at solving Fusion reactors.

      • John Brown permalink
        February 9, 2023 5:45 pm

        My thanks to Graeme No. 3, Carnot, Mikehig and billydick007 for the engineering problems associated with using hydrogen as a store of energy. I did know of the NOx problem with burning hydrogen with air as it burns at a high temperature when burnt efficiently. Now, I’m not an engineer and know nothing about the gas turbines used to produce electricity and their physical limits, but why is it not considered to burn the hydrogen using the oxygen (so no nitrogen and hence no NOx) that is also produced during the electrolysis used to produce the hydrogen?
        Also, bearing in mind the enormous technical and safety issues of hydrogen I have also wondered if using the Sabatier process to convert the green hydrogen from electrolysis to green methane which can then be used for existing electrical generators, existing pipework, existing home boilers and even easily converted ices, would be worth the additional 20% loss of energy of this process?

      • Graeme No.3 permalink
        February 9, 2023 8:49 pm

        If you want gaseous fuel the cheapest source, apart from natural gas, is conversion of brown coal. You could also use black coal as was used in England from 1878 to the 1960’s(?) to make coal gas.
        Coal gas was a mixture of carbon monoxide (toxic), dioxide and hydrogen. Further reactions could generate various products such as diesel and lots of chemicals. I don’t know the economics of separating the hydrogen out but I saw one claim that it was one sixth the cost of electrolysis with renewables.

  22. Micky R permalink
    February 8, 2023 7:23 pm

    ” Breakdown of gas storage talks leaves UK exposed to price surges, say experts”

    Burn coal.

  23. Vernon E permalink
    February 9, 2023 11:30 am

    Sushi got caught with his pants down when he banned fracking. Cuadrilla ensured that they would provoke this response by asking for a seismic limit of 4.0 – well into the danger zone. The outright ban has now opened the door for them to sue the government for all the costs they incurred over the last ten years (reported recently). They had already demonstrated that we don’t have viable shale (too impervious) but the ban has put the ball right back in their court. This is all blindingly predictable (as I have said for years) but they should have been given a carefully monitored opportunity to prove that they could frack safely and profitably and thereby hang themselves.

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