The newest state of affairs has piled strain on the Government for a reform of the system. It is one thing Sir Dieter has been proposing for some time, having in 2017 carried out a Cost of Energy review, laying out a complete host of suggestions together with “creating and developing serious independent system operators at the national and the regional levels, storage, sorting out the legacy renewables costs, and setting the price cap on the basis of margins”.
Storage is a matter which comes up time and time once more – and one which critics argue the Government ought to have addressed earlier. Sir Jim earlier this week bemoaned the dearth of gasoline storage within the UK in contrast to different nations. The UK, he mentioned, had 10 days’ storage – one thing which is “a bit pathetic really for a nation as important as the UK, on the continent they’ve got 40 or 50 days’ storage”.
Clive Moffatt, a gasoline guide and former adviser to the Government on energy safety, says this was introduced to the Government’s consideration a very long time in the past. Around 10 years in the past, he was talking to ministers about what wanted to be put in place to prepare for doable energy points.
“We said you urgently need to encourage new investment in gas storage, and also we said we needed more flexible and reliable power stations on gas. We should have invested in those so, if the wind stopped blowing and the sun stopped shining, we had gas. Had they done that, we wouldn’t be here.”
To the opposite, the UK has been closing gasoline storage services – most notoriously, the Rough web site off the Yorkshire coast, which the Government allowed to shut down in 2017.
And it’s not the primary time Britain has had a warning signal that reform was wanted. “In 2018, we had a similar problem, and in 2013,” says Moffatt. “Successive governments over the years have just ignored this issue, especially since the decision was taken to decarbonise the electricity markets. Governments have ignored the importance of gas and how important it will be in the long-term transition to net zero.”
Now, having shrugged off such strain for years, it appears the Government’s apathy is coming again to chunk it. Amid the present energy crisis, gasoline provide may quickly begin to tighten.
The dangers are stark. “It could be back to the three-day week,” Moffatt says. “If we have that perfect storm situation, and there’s the threat that there will be no gas in the system, the Government would have to limit electricity consumption and limit gas consumption by industry.”
For consultants, frustration is rife. Warnings have been falling on deaf ears for years, and planning has fallen quick. “The selections that ought to have been taken, ought to have been taken 10 years in the past,” says Moffatt. “Every year that they weren’t and nothing was executed, and now we’ve ended up the place we are actually, which is totally on the mercy of the market.
“If you ask me, why wasn’t that done, well we should ask the Government.”