Future gas use to decline, no space for shale

In July, BEIS published statistics on the use of natural gas in the UK[1]. Of note is the decline in the use of gas for electricity generation since 2011, from 309 TWh to 212 TWh in 2015. This trend may continue as more renewable sources of electricity and nuclear are connected.

Gas use for heating has not changed considerably between 2011 and 2015 (at around 400 TWh/ yr), despite efforts to improve the efficiency of energy use.

This is summarised in this Sankey diagram:

According to the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), UK gas use needs to be reduced from the current 800 TWh/ yr to approximately 150 TWh/ yr in 2050, or to 400 TWh if CCS is implemented[2]. ADBA have outlined how 40-80 TWh of biomethane could be produced from AD and biomethanation, depending on the levels of investment in research and innovation (R&I). Other sources of methane, derived from the gasification of wood or waste plastic, could add to this further.

What is not clear is how shale gas would fit into this picture. It does not appear that the UK would be able to use any shale gas beyond 2050, and would have to start reducing use from the mid-2030s. So there seems little point in the government investing so much in it.

Views welcome, 020 3567 0751.



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Tags: anaerobic digestion, biomethane, biogas