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The UK Energy Crisis in 3 simple awareness-raising pictures

Wrap up and think of Gaia

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They say a picture is worth a thousand words. If that’s true, we’re about to save you reading 3,000. The UK is running out of gas. Very rapidly indeed. So much so, that shortly after Easter cuts and rationing may be introduced, with industrial users and hospitals getting preferential treatment.

This month is the coldest March in years, and thus the UK’s gas fuel stores have run down to 10 per cent of the nation's capacity. A year ago it was 49 per cent. While other countries have hundreds of days of supply, the UK has tens. According to Reuters, stores of gas will run out by 8 April at this rate.

The following graphics come from the National Grid, which disseminates its operational data online on a daily basis. Since 2005, the National Grid has been obliged to publish supply-level monitors, called safety monitors, and "take action to ensure that storage stocks do not fall below the defined levels". Here’s the first picture, illustrating our dwindling gas stocks.

Gas stores

The amount of gas in storage over time since last October

And another below, showing our usage and the delivery of gas. All the graphs are explained here [PDF].

Delivery Safety Monitor chart

How much gas the country needs and is delivered

And more information on the accessibility of various gas stocks and the gradual downward trend in storage: in this chart, SRS is short-term reserve storage, MRS is medium-term, and LRS long-term.

UK gas supply history

The UK's gas supply history over time

The UK can import gas via inter-connectors that pipe gas between countries – but only at great expense, and only if they work. The UK-Belgium interconnector unexpectedly failed at 7am on Friday, causing wholesale spot prices to treble. The British government's Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said it was keeping an eye on the situation.

"We are working with [the energy regulator] Ofgem to review our market arrangements," a department spokeswoman added.

The timing is exquisite. On Saturday, "Earth Hour" was held globally at 8.30pm local time. It's an annual stunt dreamed up by a PR agency for the eco pressure group WWF. During Earth Hour people are encouraged to voluntarily turn out their lights – "to raise climate change raise awareness" and think of Gaia.

Here is a bonus link for you:

It’s the next Prime Minister, possibly, filmed three years ago when he was Energy Secretary, talking about his priorities.

There's no shortage of blame to go round in the UK Energy Crisis. But it should be noted that our finest climate experts consistently forecast warmer and milder winters than we have experienced. "Children just aren't going to know what snow is," one expert predicted in 2000.

The politicians have prioritised accordingly. ®

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