The UK governments much delayed sustainable heating strategy is still eagerly awaited, not least given the UK energy cost crisis. With gas prices high, a coal plant had to be cranked up to meet power demand when offshore wind input was low and then a cross-channel power link went out of service. The resultant rise in power prices and the prospect of more energy prices rises, raise major, political, economic and social issues. However, more optimistically it was argued that, longer term, higher gas prices could help accelerate the shift from gas to renewables, backed by energy storage. That might include solar with hydrogen back up and more offshore wind projects further out to sea in windier areas with higher load factors, and also tidal stream projects with inherently high levels of power availability. So renewables could become more reliable. They could also be a hedge against future wild gas price swings. Certainly, some claimed, we could have avoided the mess by pushing the alternative options more. Of course, not everyone saw it like this. Predictably, the Global Warming Policy Forum saw the price rises as being due to green taxes and green policies, with even worse to come if the government insisted on pushing for high cost heat pumps to replace gas boilers and natural gas. With energy and economic chaos predicted, it even called for the COP26 meeting to be cancelled! Interestingly, Ecotricity also came out with a ‘save our boilers’ campaign, in conjunction with the Daily Express, claiming, like the GWPF, that the heat pump route was too expensive. But its campaign proposals were very different from the GWPF’s. Whereas the GWPF want to stay with fossil gas for heating, Ecotricity wants the UK to go for green gas, with biomethane produced from grass in their planned anaerobic digestion (AD) gas-mill plants. It said running the gas mains and existing boilers with biogas would be much cheaper and easier than trying to install and then run electric heat pumps. Its UK wide green gas-mill plan would, it said, cost £30 bn, a tenth of what it claimed the heat pump plan would cost, ‘with zero % of the hassle, upheaval and waste.’ It would also insulate the UK from the vagaries of imported gas prices.
Renew Extra 2nd Oct 2021 read more »