BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Science/Nature  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Friday, 30 August, 2002, 11:06 GMT 12:06 UK
UK 'running out of gas'
Gas flame
Almost all gas may have to be imported by 2020
The UK could start experiencing gas shortages within as little as two years, scientists are warning.

A report by the Royal Academy of Engineering, submitted to Energy Minister Brian Wilson on Friday, predicts the UK could have to import virtually all the gas it needs as early as 2020 because it will no longer have enough of its own.

It attacks the government's energy policy as "hopelessly unrealistic" and says it places too much emphasis on renewable energy.

Professor Ian Fells, one of the report's authors, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the problem with the government's energy policy was that it was market-led, and there was no long-term planning.


We've got accustomed to just switching on the taps in the North Sea

Professor Ian Fells, Royal Academy of Engineering

Professor Fells warned: "If you hit a really cold winter or few days, that would stretch our gas supply because we have next to no storage capacity in this country

"Our friends in Germany and France really have quite large storage built in.

"We've got accustomed to just switching on the taps in the North Sea, and it's always provided what we needed.

"That means we've got to build a huge infrastructure to store gas to deal with those difficult times."

He added: "The problem gets much worse with gas if you close down all the nuclear stations, as seems to be the route ahead, you close down the coal-fired stations and then you rely on huge chunks of renewable energy.

"Renewable energy is very important, but it's largely intermittent so that has to be backed up."

Finite resource

Energy Minister Brian Wilson said the report, written as part of a consultation process prior to the publication of a White Paper, raised "important and challenging" issues.

He said: "If things go on as they are at present time, then 70% of energy comes from gas by 2020 and 90% of that gas is imported.

"What's therefore important is that both the infrastructure and the contracts are in place which will sustain that kind of dependence on gas.

"It calls into question whether it was all that clever to go so heavily for gas over the last 20 years when our indigenous resource is so finite."

Mr Wilson added the expected shortage of gas raised other questions.

"Do we allow nuclear electricity, the only major source of non-carbon electricity at the present time, to fade away at exactly the time when we need to have a clean and indigenous component in our energy mix to balance the challenges in gas that Professor Fells refers to?"

And he accepted there were impediments to meeting the target of 10% of energy coming from renewable sources such as wind, hydro and landfill gas by 2010.

See also:

13 Oct 02 | Science/Nature
13 Dec 01 | Science/Nature
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Science/Nature stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Science/Nature stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes