The man running Britain’s gas network has said the country will need fossil fuels to prevent blackouts for decades to come despite calls for the Government to begin shutting off the pipes. The Telegraph has more.
Jon Butterworth, Chief Executive of National Gas, said a growing reliance on intermittent power sources such as wind and solar meant Britain would be increasingly reliant on gas to make up for shortfalls when renewable energy sources are not generating power.
Mr. Butterworth said: “In 2022, the wind didn’t blow enough or at all for 262 days. And in those 262 days, we would have had rolling blackouts, or a full blackout across the UK if it wasn’t for gas.”
He believes Britain will still need gas to keep the lights on as far out as 2040.
“I actually think we’ll be moving more gas but we’ll be moving gas to power stations to make electricity rather than to homes.”
His conviction comes despite calls for the Government to begin shutting down the gas network as part of the shift to Net Zero.
The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC), headed by Sir John Armitt, last week called for the U.K.’s domestic gas network to be decommissioned at a cost of £70bn to encourage people to switch to heat pumps and help the country meet its Net Zero targets.
The cost of decommissioning would most likely be added to consumer bills but the NIC argues the policy would help halve domestic energy costs by 2050.
The Government plans to replace the U.K.’s 25 million domestic gas boilers with heat pumps to end our dependence on both gas and global gas prices. That dependence is why energy bills have doubled since 2021.
However, heat pumps need electricity and in a country committing itself to generating most of its power from wind farms, there will be many low wind days when gas is still needed.
Mr. Butterworth foresees a time when millions of ‘green’ heat pumps will be whirring away – but using un-green power produced in gas-fired power stations.
He said: “That is actually far less efficient than burning gas in your house. Domestic gas boilers are about 90% efficient but the best power station is about 50% efficient.”