Spy chiefs have warned the bosses of Britain’s key power companies to boost their security amid fears of a Russian cyber-attack that could put the lights out. The National Grid was put on alert last week by officials from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) — a branch of the signals intelligence agency GCHQ — and given advice on how to improve its defences to prevent power cuts. Electricity, gas and water firms, the Sellafield nuclear power plant, Whitehall departments and NHS hospitals have all been warned to prepare for a state- sponsored assault ordered by the Kremlin after the nerve agent attack in Salisbury.
Times 18th March 2018 read more »
Government officials are undertaking a rash of reviews into energy security as political tensions between Russia and the UK continue to escalate. For the first time, the Government’s official quarterly energy report at the end of the month will lay bare the UK’s reliance on Russia for winter gas. Meanwhile, officials are in crunch talks with key gas stakeholder groups to understand the cost of the UK’s growing reliance on foreign gas imports to major industrial energy users. The first event concluded in frustration on Friday, according to one attendee, after officials told the 80 strong group that it still believes Britain’s gas system is resilient despite two major price shocks this winter, which experts believe will raise bills for millions of homes and companies.
Telegraph 17th March 2018 read more »
Ministers should launch a review of Britain’s dwindling gas-storage capacity amid the escalating diplomatic row with Russia, according to an energy industry trade body. The Energy and Utilities Alliance (EUA) said the recent decision to close Centrica’s Rough facility off the coast of Yorkshire would leave Britain more reliant on imports when temperatures plunge. Rough, which is being wound down, accounts for an estimated 70% of the UK’s gas-storage capacity — or six days of winter demand. “With little gas storage capability, it makes us more dependent on imports and at greater risk to shocks in the system,” said Mike Foster, chief executive of the EUA.
Times 18th March 2018 read more »
The problem of Britain’s dependence on fossil fuels as a source of heat remains. About 85 per cent of the UK’s heating comes from natural gas, which is delivered through the gas network. By contrast, electricity is generated from a mixture of gas, coal and renewables. During peak demand in the recent cold snap, wind contributed 30 per cent of power. The mix highlights that while the country has made significant progress in decarbonising electricity supplies, heating has yet to make a similar leap. 85 per cent of the existing housing stock heated with natural gas; it’s what householders and installers know. The alternatives are not so well known and may be more expensive”.The government’s Clean Growth Strategy, published last October, set out targets to improve the energy efficiency of homes and businesses but many of them lacked detail, according to experts. The strategy also called for poorly insulated “fuel poor” homes — households that spend more than 10 per cent of their income on fuel — to be upgraded to the more efficient Energy Performance Certificate band C by 2030 — and for as many homes as possible to be EPC band C by 2035. In a report on the future of gas published last week, National Grid said that, while a “combination of solutions” was expected develop to decarbonise heat, hydrogen was “gaining momentum”. A report by KPMG published in 2016 also put the cost of decarbonisation through conversion to a form of decarbonised gas (including hydrogen) at about a third of the estimated £300bn cost of full electrification.Experts say that whichever technologies are adopted, the cost will remain a challenge. Domestic electricity bills include “green” charges that subsidise renewable power. Whether carbon-free heating can be paid for with a similar levy is still a matter of debate.
FT 17th March 2018 read more »