Heating, gas reserves and very cold weather

If I was completely isolated from the world (and fortunately I am not) I could often tell the weather by looking at the views on these pages. For the past week the most viewed item was https://robertkyriakides.wordpress.com/2009/01/10/why-your-gas-condensing-boiler-may-stop-working-in-very-cold-weather/ which has been viewed by many people whose gas condensing boiler has stopped working, and from this I could deduce that we have had very cold weather.

More snows are threatened it is cold (it is after all January) and it being cold has given some journalists ill educated in the laws of physics and thermo dynamics the “evidence” they crave that climate change is a myth. That is a fond and foolish wish.

Although some gas condensing boilers have stopped working (and if they have I hope that my article will help people fix them quickly and get warm again) Britain’s gas network has managed to cope with the exceptional demand.

Greg Clark, the Shadow Energy Secretary, has pointed out that there is only eight days worth of gas stored. Extended colder weather will bring that storage figure down. The “just in time” policy on gas supply is failing and will fail sooner rather than later is the cold weather continues.

Businesses will be first affected, and domestic consumers affected last.

Mr Clark states that this was eminently foreseeable; he is right. I did foresee it and wrote about this precarious position five years ago in “the Energy Age” and it is heartening to see a politician raise this point at last.

The Government claims that the North Sea is the United Kingdom’s gas storage system. That illustrates the foolishness of Government thinking. Only about half the UK’s gas comes from the North Sea, and that proportion is shrinking every year. Rather than treat the North sea as a gas storage facility (which it is not, it is a finite resource, not a store) we ought to be purchasing gas from abroad in summer, when the price is low, and storing it until we use it in winter.

The North Sea should be retained as an iron reserve, not as a reserve against the contingencies of weather.

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