The big news this week is that the National Grid has issued two Gas Balancing Alerts. GBAs are warnings that the demand for gas is coming close to exceeding the supply available. So where did it all go wrong, how are we coping and will your gas still be on tomorrow?
Two separate issues have combined to make Britain’s gas supply hit the front page news this week. First – and this won’t be a shock – demand for gas has rocketed due to the heavy snow and freezing weather. Secondly, our supply capacity was reduced when the Langeled pipeline, the biggest underwater pipeline in the world, suffered from technical issues.
Issues with the Langeled pipeline have led to a decrease in the amount of gas coming through the pipe from Norway, while Britain experienced temperatures as low as -18C yesterday, causing demand for gas to reach record levels.
These two events combined prompted the National Grid to ask 95 industrial high gas users, such as factories and power stations, to suspend their gas use temporarily. Today this number has been reduced to 27, and all supplies will be fully resumed tomorrow. Asking high gas users to switch to other fuels (such as oil or coal) is a standard mechanism the Grid uses to manage energy demand and is not a crisis measure.
So far the UK energy network is coping well with the technical issues and extreme demand, as it’s designed to cope with unexpected fluctuations. In the short term it’s very unlikely that domestic gas supplies will be interrupted, so you can have the heating on tonight after all!
Photo Credit: Kasia and Mike via Flickr