Mark Hanafin: We're not in any danger of running out of supply
Thursday 14 January 2010
With Britain on course for what could be the coldest winter in 30 years, concerns have moved beyond the lack of road grit and focused on the spectre of energy shortages. But while the industry is by no means complacent, and we are watching the situation closely, the evidence is the UK gas market has proved flexible and responsive.
The giant Langeled pipeline from Norway, the BBL pipeline from the Netherlands and the three large new liquefied natural gas import terminals at the Isle of Grain and Milford Haven have at times accounted for over a third of the UK's gas in recent weeks. Yet only five years ago none of these massive import facilities existed.
Over that period, around £10bn of investment has been made as the UK moved from being a gas exporter in 2003 to importing enough to meet up to 50 per cent of its gas requirements today. Why did so much investment happen so quickly? Because this country has a liberalised energy market in which investors can make returns.
The recent National Grid gas balancing alerts were part of this market process, which aimed to ensure that enough gas was in the system after problems with Norwegian supply. Overall, we now have a much more diverse and resilient infrastructure. But we must keep on investing as UK gas reserves continue to decline, and as we attempt to drastically reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
The industry regulator, Ofgem, estimates that a further £200bn of investment will be required by 2020, focused on low carbon power generation. We are at a pivotal point in energy policy. Whatever the outcome of the general election, it is vital that momentum is not lost. Otherwise, the UK could not only miss its emissions reductions targets, but risk its good record of keeping the lights on.
Mark Hanafin is the managing director of Centrica Energy
Tourist films plane's descent just metres above packed Caribbean beach
Bali nine: Welcome to 'Execution Island' – the Indonesian holiday resort where foreigners are sent to die
How Homer Simpson discovered the Higgs boson over a decade before scientists
The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
Harrison Ford seriously injured after his vintage light aircraft crash lands near Los Angeles, report claims
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Nigel Farage promises Ukip will not 'stigmatise' would-be migrants – and says he wants 'everyone to speak the same language'
Ex-head of MI6: 'We shouldn't kid ourselves that Russia is on a path to democracy'
Most people think legal tax avoidance is just as wrong as illegal tax evasion, poll suggests
iJobs Money & Business
£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established early...
£30 - 35k + Bonus & Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Executive Assist...
£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...
Voluntary post, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Would you ...