Soaring gas prices demonstrate the need to urgently diversify and decarbonise the UK’s energy system.
That’s the view of the Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA) following the hike in prices of 70% since August and 250% since January.
The impacts of this can be seen with various energy suppliers and smaller companies going under and the closing of two large fertiliser plants, which has led to a cut in the supply of carbon dioxide to the food industry and other manufacturers.
Frank Gordon, Director of Policy for the REA, commented: “The ever-present risk of high and volatile natural gas prices demonstrates the importance of a diverse decarbonised energy system – using all the different renewable and clean technologies available to us, including bioenergy, energy storage and marine, all working together to ensure a resilient system and lowering exposure to international prices and lowering emissions.
“We must also have a renewed focus on energy efficiency and insulating our homes to reduce our overall energy usage as a first step.
“Green sources of CO2 can be captured at ‘BECCS’ (plants which capture carbon from bioenergy generation) and green gas plants and this could help with shortages in CO2 supply to industry in the future, reducing reliance on the current small number of suppliers.
“We have also seen shortages of chemical fertiliser from fossil sources – but biofertiliser (digestate from green gas plants) is a brilliant replacement for mineral fertilisers at lower cost to the planet and compost brings many soil improvement benefits and slow release fertilisers.
“Overall, renewables and flexibility sources can avoid the issues we have seen with volatile fossil fuel prices and deliver a range of other products, from green gas to green CO2 and fertilisers.”
The UK relies on natural gas for half its electricity generation and according to the government, 60% of natural gas supply was imported during 2020 – explaining why global market prices are of real concern to the domestic market.
Recent nuclear outages and a fire at the UK’s interconnector to France have further raised demands for gas.