This evening the National Grid in the UK issued the first Gas Balancing Alert for the 2010/11 winter. The latest status for gas supply can be viewed on their information website.
According to the National Grid:
The purpose of the Gas Balancing Alert (GBA) is to provide a signal to the market that demand-side reduction and/or additional supplies may be required to avoid the risk of entering into a Network Gas Supply Emergency.The issuing of this alert is therefore a signal to the gas market in the UK that action needs to be taken to ensure security of supply, and in the past this action has always been successful. The action is typically large industrial gas users reducing their consumption, or new short-term supplies being acquired, either from gas storage or through extra imports.
So what does this mean for gas and electricity consumers in the UK? Domestic supply will be guaranteed, but prices will inevitably be pushed up further still. Gas prices will rise as a direct result, but also electricity prices, as over 40% of our electricity is generated by burning gas.
What can you do? Well, you could start by reading some of our past blogs on how to save energy and therefore save money:
Nine solutions that work to combat rising fuel prices
Save energy, save money: cavity walls
What should we be doing as a country? The standard industry and government response is to build more pipelines or LNG import terminals - but building facilities does not guarantee there will be gas flowing through them, as that depends on the market and the suppliers. It also doesn't help the UK balance of payments, or help cut CO2 emissions. While extra import facilities may be useful, the first action that must be taken is to reduce consumption through demand management and efficiency, as we mentioned just last week on this blog.