Saturday, 24 April 2021

Gassing off

This is just one of many articles about the government's "ambitious" target to phase out new gas boilers by the mid 2030s. All the articles I've read take the saving in "greenhouse gases" to be a good and vitally necessary thing, naturally, stating that they do (not may) cause global warming.

However, this like every other article I could find on the internet completely ignores the fact that the amount of gas used in domestic heating is 26 million tons of oil equivalent per year, which just happens to also be the total consumption of electrical energy in the UK. So, to phase out gas heating, the electricity generating capacity of the UK will have to double, without using fossil fuels, as replacing gas burned in boilers with gas burned in power stations would be a pointless and extremely expensive exercise.

Not only that, but the whole distribution network right down to the feeds to the meters will have to be uprated to carry the additional load. Needless to say, there is no announcement from the government about starting either of these upgrades.

I would like to think that the government's targets are just pious hopes expressed with an eye to a general election in 2024, but I'm not going to hold my breath. We live in an era of policy-based evidence, after all.

12 comments:

decnine said...

It's worse than that. To deliver 1kwh of electricity to a home, 4kwh worth of gas has to be burned in a power station. Transmission losses consume 3kwh, leaving 1 kwh deliverable to the end user. It is infinitely more efficient to convert 1kwh worth of gas to heat AT THE POINT OF USE. Even better, burning gas at the point of use does not require the sun to be shining nor the wind to be blowing.

Bayard said...

D, well yes, that's another whole can of worms that the Greenies keep the lid tightly screwed on to. Last year we had a week of cold weather during which the sun didn't shine, nor did the wind blow. That's a huge amount of energy either to be provided by non-renewables of storage and totally beyond our planned capacity in either in the forseeable future.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Although I see no evidence for the "CO2 causes heating" claims, I must admit that over the past twenty or so years, the government has set up all sorts of targets which initially seem implausible to me - like phasing out coal-fired power stations - but we seem to be vaguely achieving them.

So while this particular target seems ridiculous, going by past experience, we might actually get there sooner or later.

Mark Wadsworth said...

What we have to add to this is that to replace gas for domestic heating, we have to approx. double existing electricity generation. The same applies to everybody driving electric cars. So to achieve both targets we have to treble existing electricity generation, all from 'renewables'.

Which does seem a bit implausible, doesn't it?

Bayard said...

Mark, I was going to mention electric cars, but thought it would just complicate things. I expect that this target will be "achieved", largely by replacing natural gas by hydrogen, which was, mainly what we were burning before natural gas came on stream, so it's not rocket science. That hydrogen won't be made using renewable energy, at least not at first, it will probably be made using some process that strips the carbon out of natural gas, or even from coal and water. So long as the stripped-off carbon isn't released into the atmosphere as CO2, the Greenies will be happy. At the same time, the replacement electrical heating will be far more expensive than gas-fired heating, so people will just use less of it and have colder houses, again as they did in the past. We survived hundreds, if not thousands of years with an internal ambient temperature of no more than 13C in the winter, so we don't really need to heat our houses to 23C, which is what uses up much of that gas.

Lola said...

What's more, places like mine, reasonably remote in the sticks, have unreliable electric supplies. My house already is already set up so that I can plug in my petrol generator when the leccie breaks.

Bayard said...

Lola, or get yourself a Tesla PowerWall (I haven't checked, but I am sure it's spelled like that).

George Carty said...

decnine: "Transmission losses consume 3 kWh, leaving 1 kWh deliverable to the end user."

Transmission isn't anything close to that inefficient!

The huge losses your thinking of are actually the losses that come from converting heat energy (in this case from burning gas) into the mechanical energy that drives a generator. Which in most cases is unavoidable, but not if (like in the case of domestic heating) heat is all that you're really after in the end.

Sobers said...

"The same applies to everybody driving electric cars. So to achieve both targets we have to treble existing electricity generation, all from 'renewables'."

Only if you assume the plan is for everyone who currently has an ICE car to have an electric one. The reality is that the drive for electric cars is precisely designed to stop the masses being able to have personal transport. They won't be able to afford to buy or maintain it, or be able to supply it with electric. They'll have to make do with public transport or a bike, and lump it.

" I expect that this target will be "achieved", largely by replacing natural gas by hydrogen"

In a logical world yes, but due to the aim mentioned above I predict that if hydrogen technology looks as if it would allow the masses to have personal transport will be legislated out of the marketplace. On spurious grounds of 'safety' undoubtedly.

None of this 'Green' stuff is about saving the planet, its all about a means to an end - destroying free market capitalism (and personal freedom) and subjugating the masses to the socialist boot. They won't allow technology to solve the 'problem' of climate change, the only 'solution' that will be allowed is the one they want - them in control for ever.

Mark Wadsworth said...

B, your comment baffed me: "replacing natural gas by hydrogen, which was, mainly what we were burning before natural gas came on stream".

Do you mean coal gas aka town gas?

Bayard said...

Yes, it was a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide. AFAICR, it was made thus: C + H2O + heat => CO + H2 mainly plus a whole lot of other gases from the heated coal. The CO made the gas poisonous as well as explosive.

Bayard said...

"In a logical world yes, but due to the aim mentioned above I predict that if hydrogen technology looks as if it would allow the masses to have personal transport will be legislated out of the marketplace. On spurious grounds of 'safety' undoubtedly."

Hydrogen as a fuel for cars will always be a non-starter. I was talking about once again using hydrogen for as a fuel for gas boilers.