Renewables to lessen gas reliance for UK homes this winter

Since October, renewable power has generated more than 13TWh of clean energy, an amount that would need to be doubled if it were to come from gas – the equivalent needed to heat 2.9 million homes this winter.


Renewables to lessen gas reliance for UK homes this winter

Generating this power using gas power stations instead would have required 27TWh more gas, which is currently the primary cause of skyrocketing energy bills.

New analysis from the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) has found that promoting a pipeline of renewables projects, supported by battery and pumped hydro storage can dramatically reduce the UK’s reliance on gas imports

Starting from the beginning of October, which the energy firms class as winter, the ECIU has been tracking wind and solar generation. It found that power from these sources has totalled 13TWh.

Generating this power using gas power stations instead would have required 27TWh more gas, which is currently the primary cause of skyrocketing energy bills.

The UK’s gas dependency has caused energy prices to rise to unprecedented levels. Gas accounts for 40% of power generation in the UK and 85% of domestic heating, despite the UK’s housing stock being the least efficient across Western Europe.

The ECIU argues that the more renewable power that’s generated the less gas needs to be sourced and paid for, and the more the UK can keep its gas storage topped up.

Indeed, the ECIU’s new Winter Power Tracker, which will continue to run over the coming months, found that renewables displaced the equivalent of 3% of UK annual gas demand and 6% of UK net gas imports – 8% of what we import via pipelines or 30 LNG shipments, since the start of October.

If this renewable generation from wind hydro and solar, which accounted for 30% of our annual electricity demand, did not operate, we’d need to burn around 70% more gas annually. The ECIU states this would add 23% to the UK’s total gas demand, increasing imports by 45%.

For the rest of the UK’s generation, nuclear and biomass generated around 6TWh over the same period. The ECIU calculates that using gas power plants for this generation would have required more gas equivalent to 1.5 % of annual UK gas demand.

Of the groups that are dissuaded by the intermittent nature of renewables, the ECIU also notes that the UK has gas power plants on stand-by for when other power stations develop faults or operate at lower capacities, but that energy storage and pumped hydro can overtake the need for gas. Battery storage capacity is up to 2.5GW with a further 20GW in the pipeline, while pumped hydro storage capacity is set to rise by 130% to 6.5GW.

The ECIU’s head of analysis Dr Simon Cran-McGreehin said: “Last year the power grid stood solid throughout the winter, but this time round there are concerns over whether gas will be able to play its role. We have enough gas power stations – the question is will we have a steady supply of gas to both feed power plants and heat our homes?

“Every swoop of a wind turbine blade means less gas that we have to buy. As batteries and pumped hydro expand, we’ll be less dependent on gas to play its ‘balancing’ role, insulating us from international gas markets. The same goes for insulation and electric heat pumps. If government ramps up investments, next winter could be less challenging for the grid and less worrying for households.”

It comes as research by BOXT found that UK citizens are paying more for their energy bills than any other country in the world.

BOXT looked at Government data on electricity and gas prices from the past five years to analyse the impact of the current cost crisis and have showcased which nations have had the biggest year-on-year increase in energy prices.

The UK unfortunately leads the way. The energy price cap was recently raised from 28p to 34p per kWh, in comparison, the Republic of Ireland has the second highest electricity cost, paying 18.99p per kWh.

In terms of the biggest percentage increase, Norway leads the way with a 91% increase on energy bills over the last five years. The UK is third, behind Finland, with an increase of 35%.

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Comments (2)

  1. Richard Phillips says:

    The salient feature of RENEWABLES is their origin in natural sources, sun wind and possibly tidal power.
    None of trio is faintly under our control. They are grab them while you can get them sources.
    And they are not “free”, or even cheap!
    I cannot recall seeing any feature on nuclear power on your pages; yet this power is quite as clean as renewables, totally reliable, and completely under our control.
    I understand that it remains economically viable source of power, and reactors remain viable units for some 80 years.
    New units are under construction, but surely all our base load should be clean, proven nuclear, and preferably not in private hands, but that is another issue!
    Richard Phillips

  2. Philip Aspinall says:

    What nonsense. CCGT power plants are up to 60% efficient. Condensing domestic gas boilers are 95% efficient if installed correctly. The claims in this article are not realistic and add to the propaganda that blames the energy crisis on Russian Gas and the war in Ukraine for what is really a political FUBAR. Europe has ignored all the warning signs from Putin and shunned long term gas contracts in favour of spot prices. Next you will be stating that heat pumps are 500% efficient which is again nonsense. Start telling the truth to the British public and begin with that fact that EV cars use fossil fuel 70% of the time!
    Rather than nonsense such as “If this renewable generation from wind hydro and solar, which accounted for (JUST) 30% of our annual electricity demand, did not operate, we’d need to burn around 70% more gas annually. The ECIU states this would add 23% to the UK’s total gas demand, increasing imports by 45%.”

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