Even if the lights stay on, we still have another problem. How do we keep ourselves warm and fed? In a recent survey carried out by the Natural Gas Coalition, 70 per cent of people said that they felt heating and cooking were the most important aspects of energy in their daily lives. That’s why we need gas. The UK’s maximum demand for electrical power can approach 60 gigawatts at around 6pm on a really cold winter’s day. But at exactly the same moment, 22m homes (84 per cent of us) are using gas central heating while 63 per cent of us cook our dinner using gas. This requires over 300 gigawatts of gas-derived power – five times what is needed to keep the lights on. I’ve yet to see an answer as to how we could meet the challenge of providing this amount of power without using gas. Even if the UK were to install enough electrical generation capacity to heat all our homes and cook our dinners, we would then face two more problems. First, every household with gas central heating would have to rip out their boiler and radiators and install a completely new system – ground source heat pumps (driven by electricity) with under-floor heating or electric heaters – as it’s not possible simply to replace our gas boilers with an electrically powered equivalent. This would be extremely expensive for each individual consumer. Second, the National Grid would require significant investment to strengthen it in order to carry the much higher currents to communities for heating – with the prospect of digging up thousands of miles of roads to replace underground cables up and down the country.
City AM 15th Aug 2016 read more »