The UK’s hopes of attaining energy independence are threatened by the fast decline in North Sea gas production and the government’s slow-paced policies to check gas demand, reported Energy Live News.
According to the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), British energy consumers will be bracing for hefty hikes in energy bills with the country’s increasing dependence on gas imports.
UK Gas Import Dependence Increasing
The UK government’s stated goal to secure Britain’s energy independence is not likely to be realised under the policy detailed for its recent “Energy Security Day.”
As a result, the country’s gas import dependence is set to soar to 85% by 2035, at the risk of major financial implications, including a substantial negative effect on household finances and the UK’s balance of trade.
According to ECIU’s Current Policies Scenario Analysis, with the existing policies imposing the windfall tax on the renewable sector and lacking investment into heat pumps and insulating systems, the UK could enter 2035 with just a 10% reduction in demand but a 60% rise in net imports from the current levels.
In turn, a trade gap of £30B could emerge if Britain continues to import 85% of the gas it needs, around four times the level before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine exacerbated the gas crisis across the EU last year.
Even worse, the steep upsurge in gas imports is likely to push the energy bills up, causing UK households to pay at least £500/year to overseas gas producers by 2035.
Another key player behind the increasing dependence on gas imports is the dwindling production from the UK’s North Sea reserves.
Gas production in the UK’s portion of the North Sea is forecast to decline fast, tumbling by 55% from current levels by 2030 and by nearly 75% by 2035, according to the UK North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA).
Offshore Technology predicts the continued political uncertainty looming over the country, lack of investment, and soaring costs will lead to an 80% dip in production by 2030.
In order to detour the UK’s widening trade deficit and the current cost-of-living problems, the government must speed up the deployment of heat pumps, home insulation, and renewable energy sources.
According to ECIU, “A more ambitious set of policies to deploy better insulation, heat pumps, and British renewables would reduce gas demand for heating and power generation, potentially cutting UK gas imports by 55% by 2035.”
Unless proper policies to reduce gas demand are enacted, a UK household using typical amounts of gas will end up paying an eye-watering £5,700 to foreign gas producers between 2024 and 2035.
Meanwhile, a net zero home with proper insulation, heat pump, and solar panel installed is likely to pay £1,400 which is just a quarter of the above mentioned expenditure.
ECIU states that this approach of curbing gas demand as a catalyst to reducing the UK’s over-reliance on gas imports. The country’s energy security will be improved, resulting in a substantial reduction in payments to foreign producers.
As a result, Britain’s investment in natural gas would get back to the pre-crisis levels by 2035.
What Can Be Done Now?
With energy bills poised to spiral upward, UK households are urged to keep their energy demand reasonably in check.
Besides investing in better insulation, keeping one’s boiler in top shape through periodic maintenance can help reduce energy losses, and therefore slash a significant amount off one’s energy bills.
For households looking to ensure their boilers perform optimally, leveraging a certified boiler repair and maintenance service like Mulgas is a sensible investment.
In addition, under the UK’s Energy Bills Support Scheme Alternative Funding (EBSS AF), the government gave every household £400 off their electricity bill. However, the scheme ended in March 2023 with no indication of renewal.
Sohela is an electrical engineer and a self-professed writer with a keen interest in all things tech. When she’s not writing killer content pieces, you’ll find her enjoying tempting foods in her favourite restaurants.