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Weekly column by EUA's Chief Executive Mike Foster

Last week I attended the UK Energy Research Centre "Gas by Design" event at the Royal Institution. It was notable for what was said and what was reported by the media as being said - the two not always being the same! But these "big picture" events are important for EUA members, as they set the tone for the debate about future energy policy - something that is vital for their interests.

A couple of the more relevant issues discussed were:-

The UK has a low level of gas storage compared to other northern European countries that use significant amounts of gas. This includes fast-cycle storage as well as seasonal or strategic storage of gas. In the opinion of the researchers, the issue of gas storage is the most controversial one for the midstream of the gas supply chain. With the UK becoming ever more import dependent for our gas needs, then this issue needs to be revisited by Government.

The research also highlighted the fact that at the downstream end, there is a high level of uncertainty surrounding future gas demand in the UK. This relates to gas use in power generation as well as in the provision of residential and industrial heating. How we decarbonise our electricity production, whilst securing our power needs when relying on intermittent renewables, is key to achieving our GHG emission targets. But much more complex, and hence harder to predict, is how our homes reduce GHG emissions.

As I've said before and will keep repeating until policymakers take heed - consumer behaviour in all of this is key. Installers, who have daily contact with consumers and are more trusted than politicians, have a vital role to play here. But policymakers have a duty too, they need to explain very clearly and openly what the implications are for households. If they don't and the public refuse to buy into the policy, it is doomed to fail.

Best wishes, 

Mike Foster CE

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