While inflation-adjusted natural gas prices for US consumers in December (most recent month available) were the lowest in more than a decade (since 2001) thanks to our abundance of plentiful shale gas, it’s a much different story in the UK — they’re having a gas crisis, with low reserves, chronic shortages, price spikes, and rising gas and electric utility bills, which along with unseasonably cold winter weather, is potentially forcing more than one-third of UK households to turn off their heat entirely. Here are two recent news reports about the grim energy situation in the UK that provide a stark contrast to the much more positive energy situation in “Saudi America.”
1. From The Independent: “Gas crisis: consumers face shock £200 ($300) rise in bills as cold weather and snow lead to low fuel reserves.”
Energy bills are set to jump by as much as £200 ($300) over the next year as a result of continuing gas shortages, potentially forcing more than a third of households to switch off their heating entirely, energy consultants warn.
As emergency deliveries of liquefied natural gas from Qatar brought some relief to Britain’s rapidly diminishing gas reserves, specialists cautioned that supplies remained strained and would lead utility companies to raise gas and electricity bills.
“It’s probably inevitable that the energy price is going to go up this coming winter and customers better fasten their seatbelts. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the rise is in double-digits which would push many families close to the edge,” said Ms Robinson, director of consumer policy at uSwitch, the energy consultant.
Big Six energy providers buy the vast majority of the gas they supply to households and businesses a year or more in advance. This makes a price rise next winter almost inevitable, since the sustained period of heightened demand for gas as a result of Britain’s unseasonably cold spring weather has pushed the wholesale price considerably higher.
Britain’s gas reserves fell to just 36 hours worth of consumption on Friday, raising the prospect of gas rationing – although the emergency shipments from Qatar have added 12 more hours of supplies.
The Government sought to calm fears about gas shortages yesterday as Centrica, the owners of British Gas, signed a new £10bn deal with the US to import enough gas to power 1.8 million UK homes each year for two decades.
Commenting on the deal, David Cameron said: “Future gas supplies from the US will help diversify our energy mix and provide British consumers with a new long-term, secure and affordable source of fuel.
This second article identifies one of the major reasons for the UK’s energy crisis this winter that is forcing some UK residents to turn off their heat entirely — a misguided energy policy that has relied too heavily on expensive, inefficient, and unreliable “green energy” sources:
2. From The Telegraph: “Too much green energy is bad for Britain“:
With the worst snow conditions in the country since 1981, it’s worrying, to say the least, that gas supplies are running low. A month ago, The Sunday Telegraph warned in this column of the problems of an energy policy that puts expensive, inefficient green power before coal-fired and nuclear power. There have been a few signs that the Coalition is at last turning its attentions to the issue but,
still, not nearly enough has been done. Now we are reaping the consequences.
Because of a misguided faith in green energy, we have left ourselves far too dependent on foreign gas supplies, largely provided by Russian and Middle Eastern producers. Only 45 per cent of our gas consumption comes from domestic sources. All it takes is a spell of bad weather, and the closure of a gas pipeline from Belgium, to leave us dangerously exposed, and to send gas prices
soaring. Talk of rationing may be exaggerated, but our energy policy is failing to deal with Britain’s fundamental incapacity to produce our own power.
There are good intentions behind a green energy policy, and no one would wilfully want to damage the environment. But green technology – in its current
incarnation, anyway – is just too inefficient and expensive to meet our energy needs. In some of the worst weather for more than 30 years, green power still only provides a tiny fraction of our energy needs. Solar power is of limited use in our cold, dark, northern climate. And wind power isn’t much better – cold weather doesn’t necessarily mean windy weather.
HT: Scott Lincicome