‘Beast from the East’ caused winter gas spike

The UK Energy Research Centre said a loss of gas pressure in the system was only narrowly avoided

By Jonny Bairstow

The Beast from the East cold spell led to the UK’s highest gas consumption of the 2017/2018 heating season.

That’s the conclusion reached in a new report from the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC), which says this peaked at 6pm on the 1st of March, when local gas demand hit 214GW.

Earlier that day, National Grid had issued a gas deficit warning, calling for additional gas to be made available to ensure sufficient supply – this helped narrowly avert a significant drop in gas pressure.

This soaring consumption was driven primarily by schools and workplaces closing, meaning more people were at home and turning their heating on – the report suggests improving domestic energy efficiency could help slash the amount of gas required in similar scenarios in the future.

UKERC also illustrates the ‘immense’ increase in gas consumption between 5am and 8am in the winter – the steepest rise was recorded on Wednesday the 28th February with an increase of 116GW, a figure that was not out of the ordinary.

For comparison, the peak supply of the entire electrical system over the period was 53GW, with the highest 5am to 8am increase reaching 16GW.

Professor Jim Watson, Director of UKERC, said: “This new analysis reinforces the importance of further action to improve energy efficiency in our homes.

“This will not only reduce energy bills in the short term; it will also reduce winter demand peaks and make it easier and cheaper to shift to low carbon sources in future.”

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