Gas Emergency Looms

It has been apparent since the summer of 2005 that gas supplies this winter were going to be tight. Despite this the UK energy minister Malcolm Wicks had the audacity to state that the country was "awash with gas" when the evidence showed the situation to be tighter than ever.

Events are transpiring against us now and John Hemming MP, chairman of the Independent Energy Scrutiny Panel has issued this warning:

Sunday's gas consumption was 357 mcm and involved taking 320GWh from Short Term Storage leaving 724GWh. Today's demand according to the National Grid Website is predicted to be 380 mcm. All else being equal this would involve taking the maximum 526 GWh from Short Term Storage leaving just under 200 GWh. Tomorrow's Gas Demand is predicted at 372 mcm which (all else being equal) would require about 400 GWh from a store of Short Term Gas which only has 198 GWh in it. This would cause a Phase 1 Gas Emergency with disconnections of large users.
Continued below.
Obviously one would expect some demand reduction as a result of the Gas Balancing Alert. It is also possible that imports via the interconnector will pick up. The cold weather, however, is predicted to last a while longer. Medium Term Storage is likely to be running below 30% by the end of Tuesday's Gas Day. It is, however, now likely that there will be a gas emergency this week (likely estimated as a probability of over 50%)

Prices started rocketing on Sunday and have spiked intraday today at £2.55 per therm. This is symptomatic of the nature of the gas market where most demand is not sensitive to the spot price. That is why the demand reduction from the Gas Balancing Alert is likely to be lower than expected by government and Ofgem.
John Hemming's Gas Issues

The problems really started Thursday 16th February with an accident at the Bravo gas rig some 18 miles off the East coast of Yorkshire. This platform is a key component in the Rough gas storage facility, the UK's long term gas storage facility holding the vast majority of our stored gas. The facility is not expected back online until at least 1st May now.

With Rough out of the picture daily gas supply over what can be directly extracted from the North Sea gas fields and imported through the continental interconnector has been met from the medium and short term storage. Whilst this storage is capable of meeting all but the most extreme demand daily flow rates (luckily we haven't had any really cold weather) the flow rates can't be maintained for long since the volume just isn't there.

After almost four weeks, the short term storage has been reduced to just 724GWh and medium term to 2,311GWh. At the maximum rate of extraction (likely due to cold weather and long term storage being offline) these reserves will last for 1.1 and 7.6 days respectively. At immediate threat is the short term storage with a maximum flow rate of 526GWh (~48 million cubic meters). That 48mcm represents 13% of current daily demand.

On it's own the accident at Rough and the late cold spell would appear enough to disrupt supplies but there are some other details compounding the problem:

Statoil ASA, Norway's largest oil company, said today its Troll A platform in the North Sea was producing 10 percent below its capacity because of unspecified difficulties.

Gaz de France workers this morning seized control of two liquefied natural gas import terminals and eight gas storage terminals.

Malfunctions at the platform, which pumps a maximum of 110 million cubic meters of gas a day, had reduced output in February at Troll, the largest gas field in the North Sea. The field, which accounts for about 60 percent of the gas found off Norway's coast, was slated to resume full output on March 8.

Norsk Hydro said last week that production from the Oseberg field would remain at reduced levels during the weekend after faulty equipment curtailed production.

ConocoPhillips, the third-largest U.S. oil company, said it will shut its Ekofisk field in the North Sea for four days this week, halting some 600,000 barrels a day of oil and gas production.

About 375,000 barrels of crude oil a day from the Ekofisk area will be shut down in the early hours of March 17, Ingvar Solberg, a spokesman for ConocoPhillips in Norway, said in a telephone interview today. Gas production from Ekofisk and oil and gas from several neighbouring fields also will be halted, bringing the daily production loss to about 14 percent of Norway's daily output

I was also told this morning that the Bruce gas field was experiencing reduced flow rates due to compressor failure and the there was a stoppage at the Britannia field though I haven't been able to confirm this.

On prices:

The price at the National Balancing Point, the main U.K. trading hub rose as much as fourfold to 255 pence a therm, according to broker Spectron Group Plc. The price is the highest since Bloomberg began tracking the market in 1999 and equals $33 per million British thermal units.

As John Hemming mentioned such dramatic price fluctuations on the spot market are to be expected since most demand is not sensitive to the spot price. Domestic demand is billed monthly or quarterly and even many industrial users will have contracts to fill forcing uneconomic consumption for short periods. It takes a fourfold increase in price to achieve the required demand destruction.

Here's an illustrative graph from the BBC:

Soruce: BBC Online

Looking at the weather reports for the coming week, Wednesday 15th March might be a little warmer but the end of the week is again looking cold.

It's seems clear that business as usual demand will not be met - this will result in demand being cut from industrial customers (the first Gas Balancing Alert of the winter was issued today). These are the heavy gas users such as chemical, fertilizer and glass manufactures but also the largest industrial gas customer, the combined cycle gas turbines (CCGTs). The real sting in the tail of a gas shortage is the impact extremely high gas prices have on the economics of gas power stations. Severe gas shortages could endanger the national electricity supply.

Perhaps the most surprising thing however is that as close as we are to a gas shortage that will at the very least seriously effect industry, costing millions today but also having a longer lasting effect on industrial investment in the UK is that the public aren't being told about it.

If Tony Blair or Malcolm Wicks would record a 3 minute video to be played a few times a night on the major TV channels (Like Silvio Berlusconi did in Italy last month) explaining the problems and asking everyone to turn their heating down just a little bit, have a shower not a bath, ask offices to do what they can to reduce gas and electricity consumption a little the problem might be avoided.

Detailed information on the UK gas status is available on the National Grid's Daily Summary Report.

One last point that must be highlighted is the complete silence on this subject from the DTIs Joint Energy Security of Supply Working Group (JESS).

They are meant to publish a report twice a year, it's description:

A key part of JESS's work is compiling information and making it available to the energy markets via published reports. These reports provide an insight into the work of the Group, information on background to the issues relating to security of supply and an update to the indicators on security of supply that the group is developing.

This was due in November 2005 but didn't appear - I was subsequently promised it by the end of February and it still hasn't been published. The latest promise from them is the end of March. I won't hold my breath.

I suspect it wasn't published last year since they couldn't get the numbers to add up in such a way to instil confidence and admission of 'the challenging situation' was not acceptable. If serious problems do develop JESS might be a good place to start an investigation.

I read an estimate that the Gulf Stream delivers something like 27,000 times as much energy to the UK as all of the power plants combined.   What is scary is that the predictions regarding rapid climate change in the following 2004 Fortune article seem to be coming true.    

The Pentagon's Weather Nightmare

The climate could change radically, and fast.
That would be the mother of all national security issues.
By David Stipp, FORTUNE Magazine, February 9, 2004
The Complete Report to the Pentagon

What rapid climate change?

 All that happened is that after a run of unusually warm winters we now have a winter with a late cold snap. Sods law (if it can go wrong it will go wrong - the toast laways lands on the carpet marmalade side down)  has resulted in it happening at the worst possible time, compounding a number of other negative factors.

And it's not that we've had a cold winter as such - it's just that after an extended run of very mild winters leading to very early springs we've had something resembling a winter. Nothing severe, mind you, just daytime temperatures consistently below 6C.

In the late autumn there were hysterical predictions flying around of a severe winter like 1963; if that had happened then we would have been in crisis mode back in January, even without the problems that have developed with the Rough shutdown.

was it 63 or 66?
Definitely 63. England won the world cup in 66.
There's been some estimates of a 90% probability of a Gulf Stream shutdown occurring within the next 20 years, which does not mean it won't happen tomorrow.  Check the weather headlines from the 1966 to get an idea of what the least of this could mean.  One effect;  The many overhead hi voltage transmission lines that have been built since 1966 would not not be expected to survive very well and power outages would be massive.  Effect 2;  property prices will rise in Spain.
Why would extreme cold be a problem for power lines? As far as I know it mostly means that you can load them more due to better cooling.

I know that salt spray along sea costs can be a problem and ice buildup in humid slightly below freezing conditions but please explain the problem with cold weather.

Sweden will be ok as long as we get a few good summer months with a reasonable growing season. Wonder if a shut down gulf stream would get us wishing for more greenhouse gasses?

Supposedly it is the weight of ice and the increased wind drag.  Maybe the cold temps contract the lines reducing the catenary and increase the stress too.  Don't know.  During 1963 or 6 there was apparenty massive power outages in the UK due to downed power lines.  Off hand, I would expect icing to be a greater problem for the UK than Sweden.  Or, perhaps the reporter got the hiV lines confused with falling tree damage to local lines.  The problem is expected to be much worse simply because of the amount of lines that have been added since then.  I have no personal experience, so I'm just taking the report I heard at face value.  It was on BBC sometime last year.  Maybe we can search for it if needed.
I have not seen this 90% probability? Source?
Well... don't remember exactly where, as I said above.  I'm, looking for it.  It appears to be of the same origin as the excerpts appearing here,

I believe it was from a climate model that has been run by the MET Office itself.
Found the 1963 winter story.


OK. Would you believe "50% in the next 100"??  And a "low" probability in the next 20.  What's low?  I don't know.  If its 1 out of 2 in the next 100, couldn't it easily be 1 in 4 in the next 20?  Sounds high to me in any case, especially if  you consider the Gulf of Mexico just experienced a supposedly 500 year wave height.  And, the a typical model of storm frequency of return, it does not say that it CAN'T happen in ANY particular year.

If these things follow a line plot of Probability on the log of Time, it is 25% chance in the next 10 years.
Natural gas problems in the UK? I'm caught completely by surprise!

I do, however, appreciate quotes like "UK energy minister Malcolm Wicks had the audacity to state that the country was 'awash with gas' ".

Its been some years now that I believed any government official (whatever country that was) telling me something about what's going on. But I've got to say, I always thought the UK was a bit more honest than the others, especially the US....

Another false assumption put to bed....

No, this should not really surprise anyone.
Our esteemed government has been very busy with great matters such as Fox hunt bans, Smoking bans, rogering the house of lords (the bit that works), stuffing
habeus corpus, ID cards, how many vegetables we have each day, 24 hour pubs and casinos in impoverished areas.

Strategic energy issues are simply not important and can be dealt with by the market. I do not think that there is one scientist or engineer in the whole house of parliament.

You see everybody knows that the science guys will invent something nice like fusion or Sooty's magic dust

In the interests of fairness I feel I should point out that John Hemming, Liberal Democrat MP for Birmingham Yardley, studied physics (atomic, nuclear and theoretical) at Oxford.  
The difference this has made to his stance on energy issues is refreshing when compared to the majority of political animals who inhabit the house of commons.

Links to his website have already been posted in this thread.  In addition, he has raised an urgent question with regard to the gas situation which is due to be answered this afternoon in parliament by the DTI (Department of Trade and Industry).  Several hundred more like minded MP's and we might have a chance for some meaningful mitigation strategies.

John Hemming has indeed taken a strong line on peak oil. It is a great pity that he is not Liberal Democrat spokesman on energy instead of the economist Vince Cable who recently wrote an article in the Guardian dismissing peak oil with the usual economist's line, the market will provide - praise be to Adam Smith.
Ah yes, Vince Cable.  Not just any economist, but formerly chief economist for Shell.  That gives me great confidence in his judgement with regard to oil reserves !  To quote his comment in the Guardian.

" He (Vince Cable) says high oil prices will lead to increased production and exploration, thereby improving supply, and to falling demand, as consuming economies slow in the face of higher energy costs."

Declines to answer e-mails questioning his basis for this belief, but that is a common problem with all the respective party energy spokesmen.  I suspect they know they are in a hole but just do not wish to admit it.

Sir, I stand corrected.

1/700 , at least its a start.

I wish you would stop praising our esteemed government.

I wonder how much heat you can get from burning politicians?
It would be nice to chuck a politician on to a wood fire to keep warm when the natural gas shortages bite. It is certainly the most useful thing you can do with a poltician. Or has anyone else got a better idea to make use of a politician?

Pretty tough to be a politician. To be elected, he has to say what people want to hear. People don't want to hear there is a coming crisis, energy  or any other, particularly if any change in lifestyle and/or more taxes is the obvious solution. UK has no option except wind and nuclear to offset hydrocarbon shortages, but the public still is not clamoring for either. They will only demand alternative solutions until well into the crisis...
Pretty much the same on this side of the pond.
No dont burn them, just let them talk. All that hot air could be put to use
excellent post Chris!
speaking of dishonest/moronic politicians, NZ's energy minister today told the country "no rolling blackouts this [southern hemisphere] winter, lads" despite the hydro lakes being the lowest since our last (major) power crisis in 1992. and no rain in sight. and Maui gas field running down fast. etc. etc. his justification for this pronouncement? none. well, one actually. he's God. so he know's we'll be right mate! hope someone told the other God, TB, that he's got competition downunder!
Energy Minister rules out winter power cuts
I think this time it wasn't a lie.  The guy just didn't know what's been going on in his own department.  Seems like there's been a wash of that lately in the UK.  (Education if I'm not mistaken to name another one.)
Here's an interesting artical from The Guardian newspaper: Warnings were ignored of looming British gas crisis
This calls into question the Combined Heat and Power (CHP) model advocated by author Jeremy Leggett and others. Unless 'unnatural gas' can be found as a replacement all that high tech investment may ultimately be wasted.
As with oil, there will be a decline in gas not an abrupt end. There will still be significant amounts of natural gas in 40 years time and this is about the life span of much generating plant. We will need such fossil fuel while we build alternatives and we will need to use that fossil fuel with all the efficiency we can manage. Combined heat and power, both on a district and  individual building scale will be a very useful contribution to this efficiency.

In the estimates of the investments of generating plant we need to include rapidly rising fuel prices. Techniques that do not seem economic with stable fuel prices might be so with rising prices. Now may be the time to renew research into not just dual cycle (gas and steam turbines) but also triple cycle, magnetohydrodynamic (mhd), gas turbine and steam turbine. 60% thermal efficiency is possible even before considering using the waste heat.

Nick Rouse
As with oil, there will be a decline in gas not an abrupt end. There will still be significant amounts of natural gas in 40 years time and this is about the life span of much generating plant.

I'm not so sure about this, gas fields tend to produce at the constant rate (constrained by infrastructure) until almost completely depleted leading to a 'gas cliff'.  This is leading to official predictions of UK North Sea gas falling to just 10%-20% of current output by 2020.  The geology is also compounded by the aging infrastructure with much equipment in the North Sea not expected to be decommissioned within 20 years, the remaining small amounts of oil/gas not warranting new infrastructure.   Beyond 2020 (just 14 years away) very little gas is expected from the North Sea.  Globally the situation is very different oil since gas will never be as fungible as oil.
Sorry, that should read expected to be decommissioned!
I accept that the North Sea gas will be largely exhausted by 2020 or shortly thereafter but globally there will natural gas  produced in significant quantities for several decades after that. It is only not fugible today because the cost of transport is a comparable to the present selling price. At four or five times the present price we would expect to see a global gas market somewhat like the present oil market.

Even at that price it is likely that gas will be required as there is no feasible mass energy storage technology available now and applicable to the UK that could scale to cover the intermittency of 100% wind, wave, tidal and solar energy. Nuclear power is not well suited to rapid massive swings in output. A substantial premium will be able to be borne by an energy supply that can be brought on line with muli-gigawatt ratings at 20 or 30 minutes notice.

This is not to deny that we have a massive gas crisis in the  UK in the short, medium and long term. Nor that we have to  build non-fossil fuel power generation at a rate that dwarfs  the efforts so far. Nor that even with these efforts we are  going to have to reduce our energy consumption massively and painfully.

My point was only that plant capable of more efficient use  of such gas as we have is unlikely to be a poor investment.  

At four or five times the present price we would expect to see a global gas market somewhat like the present oil market

That would very well be certain if we lived in the 1980s or 1990s. With energy becoming scarce it is becoming a certainty that we will start seeing hoarding of oil and NG soon after that. As building LNG terminals takes time and huge amounts of capital it is very likely that many energy exporters will resist entering the "Global Market" you are kindly offering them.

In short - try to think in terms of energy security before relying on the hypothetical global market - it may never meet the expectations you are loading it with.

At four or five times the price, UK manufacturing will cese to exist, and there would be a severe recession.

Most homes would rip out their central heating and replace with coal or wood burning stoves.

On a brighter note, all that unwanted packaging from Tescos instant meals (ugh) will provide warmth and light for millions!

At four or five times the present price we would expect to see a global gas market somewhat like the present oil market.

Gas prices have risen that amount already on the spot market and still nobody from Europe will sell us any natural gas. Seems the UK is the only place in Europe that believes in the free market. Everywhere else has planned and built gas storage facilities and will not sell it to us at any price. I think there is a lesson in there for economists.

And for those dependent on others for their energy supply as world energy supplies shrink.
this is my understanding as well... gas PRODUCTION  can collapse  dramatically in comparison to oil.
IMHO switching to natural gas for electricity generation was the biggest strategical mistake both UK and USA made in recent years.

In addition to losing some 60% of the energy value of NG in generation and transmission (compared to nearly 100% efficiency for heating), one also have to account for the ad-hoc availability of NG and the lack of sufficient storages. Thus you potentially destabilize not only the heating grid but the electricity grid too.

While I agree the "dash for gas" was a profound error your figures are a bit pessimistic.

Transmission losses may be high in a big country like America but in the UK they are only 1.5% according to the DTI. Combined cycle electricity only plants have achieved 58% thermal efficiency see here. Still higher gas turbine temperatures will likely raise this to 60%. Theoretical predictions of the use of triple cycle HMD topped systems give 65% efficiency. Whether that will ever be achieved is another matter.

Combined cycle generation combined with use of waste heat can increase the thermal efficiency to 80% but does require there to be a local large user of low grade heat such as large housing estates designed for the purpose or extensive heated greenhouses.

The availability of natural gas is a lot better than wind or solar and if I read Chris Vernon's link right we have 316 days worth of long term gas storage 75 days of medium term storage and 20 days of short term storage. This may not be enough but it is not negligible.

With respect to your earlier post about a world market for natural gas, while countries like Russia and Canada may well chose to horde their natural gas but countries like Oman are likely to be net exporters for some time to come.

With respect to Shifty's remarks about UK manufacturing, yes it may collape but if it is near a world price the competition will have a rough time too. There is not enough wood or in the short term UK dug coal to replace more than a  fraction of UK domestic heating.

With regard to Engineer Poet's remarks about Town Gas, I remember this as a boy. I wonder if the safety considerations will allow this directly. Putting your head in an unlit gas oven was a popular form of suicide at the time. I suspect that if we go back to coal generated gas it will be synthetic methane.

The estimates I've seen for real-world CCGT efficiency are about 45% give or take few percent. If you include transmission losses and losses in conversion of electricity to useful energy the total efficiency would be well below 40%.
A have another figures for transmission losses. From Wikipedia:

Transmission and distribution losses in the USA were estimated at 7.2% in 1995 [1], and in the UK at 7.4% in 1998. [2]

Of course electricity can be used in much more applications than heating, but NG promises to be tight for heat only in the near future. Again even if your figures are more correct, wasting 50% or even 30% of the energy is obviously a very bad policy, given how many other options for electricity generation we have.

while countries like Russia and Canada may well chose to horde their natural gas but countries like Oman

I think you mean Qatar here. The three countries with some 70% of world NG reserves are Russia, Iran and Qatar. Can you imagine what would happen if the whole world came to depend on them only? I would hardly call that a global free market and we already saw Russia playng hard with the NG card. I don't mean to say the global market of LNG will not help - just that there is a great danger it will not be enough.

Even if total efficiency is 40% it's still a win if you are using heat pipes (300-400% efficiency is not uncommon).

The big question of course is if it's still a win if you include production of all required machinery...

Oops. Not heat pipes but heat pumps, of course :)
How many people or industries are using heat pumps in UK? What is the potential of their usage large scale?
I am for one
The figure I gave of 58% percent for the efficiency of a combined cycle system was a real world system commercially available from GE. I found other quotes in Japan and Korea of real world systems of 56% and above. These are the best figures but if we are considering new installations I don't know why we cannot use such figures.

As regards transmission losses I don't think a wikipedia article quoting one minor point in a A level school student's project deriving the  figure from two curves of 8 year old data of not very clear origin stacks up against a 2½ year old DTI study on that very subject.

I stand by my figure that total efficiency of 55% is achievable with new installations.

Yes you are right I was thinking of Qatar. Thanks for the correction. The world market will almost certainly be rough  but there will be some gas to buy for those that can afford to buy it and the rich countries will buy it because they can and the poor countries will go without because they can't.

One advantage of using the gas to generate electricity in central generating plant is that only here is it possible to sequester the carbon dioxide. It is not possible to gather the stuff from several million central heating systems.

Burning natural gas may produce 100% efficient conversion to heat but in a central heating system some of that heat goes up the flue. Good condensing boilers achieve about 78% efficiency over the variable load factor of normal use. You will often see much higher figures quoted. These are misleading. They are quoting the so called net efficiency which excludes from the input energy the latent heat of the steam they generate from the calculation while at the same time they do recover that heat by condensing the steam in the heat exchanger. They also quote the figure at full rated output where it is usually highest.

Despite the argument about the figures I don't think we are in any great disagreement about the overall problem. The world is heading for a major crisis over natural gas and the  UK is probable worse placed than many in that we have become  very heavily dependant on it with almost no plans as to what to do when the North Sea declines even more. We should move away from gas generation of electricity as far as we can to renewables and nuclear power but we will still be using substantial amounts of natural gas for electrical generation for quite some time.

That being said there is no reason not to use such natural gas as we have and can buy in the most efficient way possible even if the capital cost seems high at present gas prices. This was the lead in to my posts in the first place.

These are the best figures but if we are considering new installations I don't know why we cannot use such figures.

The difference is probably that the figures I've seen are for current instalations. Unless you are proposing replacing them (generally not that bad idea, but will not hold economically) or building new ones I think we should use the lower numbers (or somewhere in between).

As for carbon sequesteration - I don't think it is realistic it will happen at all, especially for gas where the low capital costs are the major reason for utilities to prefer them. If we are able to force it anyway, then using our still abundant coal resource would be much much better choice.

I did not follow the Wikipedia link, but was surprised that it also dealed with NG electricity generation.
Allow me to question the DTI report... looks like a typical government produced crap to me. For example it is seriously considering 10% renewable energy in UK by 2010, which of course is nuts. 1.5% is even theoretically impossible for transmission losses and if you google around you will see why:

Transformers are highly efficient. The very best may be 99.5% but most are more like 98% efficient. Since the electricity has to pass through at least 5 transformers before it reaches the consumer, their combined efficiency is around 92%. In the UK, about 8.5% of all generated electricity is wasted in the grid and distribution system.

(again a popular science link, but sorry - nothing else that I could find)

So even if you have the best transformers installed, just the losses from 5 transformers in the grid are 2.5%, not counting the cable resistance losses. I'm absolutely more inclined to accept the 7-8% figure, 1.5% simply does not seem realistic. I'll research the problem more when I have time for that.

Here is a link from the Copper Development Association that gives the efficiency for power distribution tansformers in the UK. The large ones that step up the generator output and step down at the first stage are 99.75% efficient. As they drop down in size the efficiency drops to 99.5%.
These are full load losses. Such transformers are usually designed to have maximum efficiency at somwhat below full load.

Unlike America there are no very small transformers in the UK serving only one or two houses except in a few very remote locations. The final transformer is normally 150kVA or bigger.

This brings the loss to about 1.8% for a string of five which
I grant exceeds 1.5% but is still a long way from 7 to 8%

It turns out to be an intriguing question, because the sources I encountered either claim 1.5% like DTI or 7-8%, the ratio being roughly 1:2 in favor of the higher figures.

Probably there is some major difference of the way the losses are measured or defined in both cases.

However the 1.5% figure is claimed by more official places, so I guess I have to accept it is probably the right one.

I think I discovered where the discrepancy comes from. This is a thorough analisys of the electricity generated and distributed in Scotland:

From the bottom of the report:

A6-7. Electricity balance: top-down estimation of saleable electricity

Total electricity generated available for sale was 45,310 GWh. From this, one has to subtract:

Transmission losses - 568

Distribution losses - 1,950

Self-consumption by MPPs - 2,648

Proportion of self-consumption by 'others' (17.7% of 240 GWh) - 42

Electricity sales to England - 5,956

Electricity sales to Northern Ireland - 2,078

Total - 13,242

So the transmission losses are 568 GWh or 1.25% which fits in the 1.5% figure of DTI.
Distribution losses (1950 GWh or 4.3%) I guess are those from transformators and ther electrical installations.
But to find out the real efficienty of power plant we also have to add the losses from plant self-consumption - 2,648 + 42 = 2,690GWth or 5.9% of the total produced electricity.

So the total losses to transmission, distribution and self-cosumption are:

1.5 + 4.3 + 5.9 = 11.4%

I think transmission is the 400KV and 250KV (super?)grid and distribution is the lower voltage grid.
Think you're right. Lower voltage would result in higher losses.
Yes, well done Levin. I did not dig deep enough. I will claim one small consolation prize. The same source gives the efficiency of combined cycle gas generators as 55 to 60%
I'm yielding you that prize, but on condition that you manage to persuade utilities to replace their old 35-40% efficient simple cycle boilers with the newer ones. I accept that with NG prices rising it is safe to assume they would do that eventually, but it will take time while shortages seem to be at our doors.

Unfortunately this does not change the fact that the overal efficiency of CCNGT is quite lower than local heating boilers - probably 45-50% vs 75-80%. I still insist on abandoning NG for electricity for that reason - we have lots of other options to replace it with. I can imagine for example a UK in which 70% of the electricity is produced by nuclear and sequestered coal, the rest being wind and solar balanced with hydro. If we use NG for heating and rail and plug-in technologies for transportation the result would be a resource-efficient economy emitting a small fraction of the CO2 emissions we have today.

No worries!
The UK may have an out:  town gas.

The British isles are still sitting on huge amounts of coal; the shutdown of the mines wasn't due to exhaustion.  If they were restarted (or deep deposits gasified in situ), the coal could be converted to CO + H2 for distribution via pipeline... as it once was.  Town gas doesn't have as much heating value per volume as natural gas (and will displace more air from any fuel/air mixture), but it can still run cogenerators.

I'm aware of no plans to look at town gas in the UK (haven't looked).  Plus, it will blow greenhouse-gas targets to hell.


Just wanted to congratulate you on the stellar job you've been doing in the first 10 days of TOD:UK.

Nice One. I've always thought the way you guys do news was better then ours. The BBC before CNN. Monty Python before SNL and John Stuart. Hope to see more of you. Welcome aboard. Give us the truth and more graphs.
Who the hell blended these Blues? This shit is superb. Was that Super G? You are amazing man. Those blues are so nice. Excellent taste. But then, you already knew that. Cheers.
This is a truly dorky group, and I mean that in the sincerely most positive way.  (I joined just to make that point.  And consistent with the criticism of the group to which I now belong, I edited from "truly a dorky" to "a truly dorky".)  I love you people -you (now we) are doing the only lifting, much less heavy lifting, toward saving the civ.  keep it up.
Time for the Brittons to start planting trees.....
They already have been, all over parts of Scotland, for at least 40 years.
Here is an interesting blog from somebody very
concerned about the UK Gas Crisis.

Or type The UK Gas Crisis 2005 -2007 into Google

Wasn't sure how to disseminate this...apologies.

This from Reuters:

American arrested with weapons [explosives]in Iraq-official
Tue Mar 14, 2006 5:23 AM ET11

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - An American described as a security contractor has been arrested by police in a northern Iraqi town with weapons in his car, said a provincial official.

Abdullah Jebara, the Deputy Governor of Salahaddin province, told Reuters the man was arrested in Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit on Monday.

The Joint Coordination Center between the U.S. and Iraqi military in Tikrit said the man it described as a security contractor working for a private company, possessed explosives which were found in his car. It said he was arrested on Tuesday. 593_RTRUKOC_0_US-IRAQ-AMERICAN.xml&archived=False

If nat gas is @55 pence per therm, how much in US dollars per 1000 cubic foot is that ? (Currently US NG is $7.30)
thanks - and good job Chris
i meant 255 per therm (though I guess last year it was 55)
I think this is right:

255 pence/therm
29.3 KWh/therm

Therefore 8.7 pence/KWh

10.9 GWh/mcm
10.9 KWh/cm

Therefore 94.9 pence/cm

35.3 cf/cm

2.69 p/cf
£26.9 / 1000 cf

Which is around $46.7 /1000 cf.

A bit long winded since the only energy to volume ratio I knew off top of my head was GWh to mcm!

well its not one I could have done in  my head so thank you!
Wow $46!!  Why isnt the FTSE and Bpound taking a beating...?
A lot of the Footsie gains are down to Oil Majors seeing share growth through last year and into this.
Earnings for Oil and Gas Majors have been pretty good
The proof of the pudding will be in the impact these levels of prices have on heavy industry such as brick, glass high energy manufacturing, etc. These of course can be offshored and this may well happen. This will lead to layoffs Also as energy prices ramp up, this acts as a 'tax' on disposable income.
This will reduce money spent on discretionary purchase (like food!?)such as durables, entertainment etc.
UK High street spending was at a very low pitch throughout the winter and retail jobs were at risk and many companies will be thinking about restructuring and laying off.

Oh and it is budget time next week...

Great post, but really bad news.

Keep us posted on the what is really happening.  As of this morning there is not a whiff of your problem in the U.S. media.

Good luck.  Hope you can show us how to deal with an energy emergency.

From the article, near the end: "...the complete science on this subject..."

science -> silence?

Indeed!  Thanks.
I almost lost my breakfast when I saw that graph.  I mean, holy crap, so this is what happens when the all-fabled "demand destruction" hits?
it is extraordinary.  Some people i have talked to consider this as a price adjustment to european norms and was to be expected.
Chris - I really like the blue (or Prof G). But the 'new' posts dont stand out as much as on the original TOD site - perhaps make them green or black so they stand out - hurts the eyes to scroll down looking for new unread posts a bit.
I agree, the [new] doesn't stand out enough. Otherwise, blue is cool! Lastsasquatch, you can always use your browser's Find command to go to the next occurrence of '[new]'. In firefox, all you have to do is type [n to get the first occurence then Ctrl-G after that. HTH.
I see what you mean, we'll get them changed.
My brother lives in Alaska. They are getting hit hard by natural gas price increases. Alaska, home of the North Slope. The huge Cook Inlet gas field is rapidly depleting -- "nose diving" and they are worried about Anchorge's near-term gas supply. Their is a large fertilizer plant on the Inlet that may be shut down to provide for local supply. They are praying the new North Slope Natural Gas pipeline gets built real soon. This is Alaska, a very different place post North Slope peak.

Will America learn from Great Britain's problems? Will we learn from our own problems?

Will America learn from Great Britain's problems in relation to the energy gap? I think the short answer to that is - No. I assume when you say "Americans" you mean the State and not the broad mass of the population?
I'm not sure Americans have much to do how their country is really run. I fear "democracy" may be a kind of illusion in many respects. Which doesn't mean I am anti-democracy, just sceptical about it's chances for longterm survival in an oil-hungry world.

Just after the Constitution was signed Benjemin Franklin was asked by woman in the street "What kind of government have you given us, Sir?" He is supposed to have replied, "A democracy, if you can keep it!" Franklin would turn in his grave looking at present day American "democracy."

I fear solutions to Peak Oil are primarilly the responsibility of the elite/state, not the American people. In the time scales we are concerned with, I doubt new social movements can be galvanised into action in time to inact appropriate remedial measures. The American politcal system is slow to change. A degree of inertian was built into this system as a guarantee of stability.

Do most of us really learn from other people's mistakes? Do countries learn from the mistakes of other countries? Do empires learn from the history of other empires? Unfortunately, I believe the answer to all three questions, is, in general, No.

Hate to quibble, but my recollection of the quote (which Franklin lifted I think from Jefferson) is that the word used was "a republic, if . . ."

"Democracy" was associated with demagoguery and mob rule in the minds of the founding fathers; "republic" was associated with the ideals (as opposed to the reality) of the old Roman republic, c. 300 B.C.

Yeah, I know, I know. I just misremembered that bit. It's republic. It's just that nobody talks that much about Republic anymore do they? It's all democracy, democracy, democracy. I'm going to have to start previewing what I write, only I'm losing sleep and brain cells in the book I'm writing, plus all the other stuff.
It's strange how one's brain can know one thing and one's hand writes something else. Especially as I'd just discussed the whole American founding fathers Republic/democracy thing with my daughter. She seems to be a kind of proto-anarchist at heart and wants to see more direct democracy and gleefully anticipates the State withering away in the bright light of universal harmony. I hate taking away her charming illusions, so I advised her to read Homage to Catalonia.

It's also strange that the concept of "Democracy" was mostly regarded as a dangerous folly by intelligent and educated people for so long, and now it's perhaps our greatest dogma, moving swiftly in the realm of mythology.

Todays Guardian story -not much fanfare a day after a 400% increase in NG prices - what happened to possibly running out in a day or two...? (I guess that would be tomorrow and Friday..)