(10 Jul 06)
It's important that the UK avoids an energy crisis.
An expansion of nuclear power and a bigger contribution from
renewables are the long term objectives, but these will not solve
immediate headaches - like a shortage of gas and its storage.
This was noticed last year; prices rose sharply in response.
This has created apprehension amongst domestic and industrial
consumers. Six months later, measures are in place to increase
gas imports and storage, but it's not certain that they will be
enough to cope with a bad winter.
The dash for gas in which gas largely replaced coal means that
Britain now depends on gas for 40% of its electricity. Short-sightedness
and the abundance of offshore reserves resulted in under-investment in
storage, with only one "reservoir" (the old Rough gas field) as a back-up.
Rough was out of action last winter because of a fire, and the storage
issue became more obvious. A number of industrial customers were cut off at
New pipelines and import terminals are being built to ease
supply problems.Two pipelines should be completed this year, from Norway and
Holland. The existing pipeline from Belgium is having its capacity increased
by 50%. These should be on stream by 2007. There will also be a
terminal for importing liquefied natural gas by ship at Milford
Britain uses about 200 billion cubic metres of imported gas a
year, of which about half is imported.
Present storage capacity is 3.8 billion.
By 2010 it will be 4.5 billion.
Present imports are approximately:
27 billion (from Norway)
23 billion (from Belgium)
16 billion (from Holland)
16 billion (imported via Milford Haven, liquefied)
12 billion (imported via Isle of Grain, liquefied)
Adding this lot up gives 94 billion. (source - Daily Telegraph, 10 Jul 06)
For comparison, UK gas production figures, in the same units, are:
2000 114 (when it peaked)
2004 101 (source- www.energybulletin.net)
Nigel Deacon, Habitat21
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