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Energy Intensive Users Group

Majority of Britons think we should prioritise gas produced in the UK

An alliance of leading trade associations – supporting 2 million jobs across the country – has joined forces to call for a much needed national dialogue about gas uses and supply in Britain. This at a time when the prestigious Institution of Mechanical Engineers reports that the UK will face an unprecedented electricity supply gap in a decade’s time with a decline of up to 55 per cent as coal-fired power stations are shut and nuclear power stations are decommissioned. [i]

The alliance’s call follows research completed by ComRes late last year which found that more than half of the UK population – 55% – want to prioritise gas produced in the UK, including shale gas produced by hydraulic fracturing, over energy imported from overseas. This finding is unsurprising considering the same research found over 56% of the UK population have concerns about power supplies over the forthcoming winter and that 70% of the population feel heating or cooking (currently almost exclusively gas based in the UK) are the most important energy uses in their daily life. As it stands, despite the continuing importance of North Sea gas production, Britain has become ever more reliant on imported gas and by 2030 will be dependent for up to 75% of its needs outside of the UK.

The research found three in five people "feel well-informed" about the causes of climate change (61%), a fact which could help explain why four out of five report actively taking measures to reduce the amount of energy they are using at home (81%). At the same time, more than half of British adults – 56% – agree that reducing the cost of energy should be prioritised over environmental concerns, given worries about high energy prices.

As well as highlighting a substantial level of support amongst the UK population for using gas produced in the UK over imported energy (55% agree that we should prioritise using natural gas produced in the UK, including shale gas produced by hydraulic fracturing, over energy imported from overseas), the research also found that two thirds (66%) agree that natural gas has a role to play in helping the UK become a low carbon economy.

Nick Sturgeon, Energy Director at the Chemical Industries Association, said: “This research highlights that the UK population is incredibly dependent on gas and is increasingly conscious of environment issues. The UK population relates the need for gas in their daily lives to the need for the UK to deliver its own supply from both onshore and offshore. As an industry we need to do more to ensure we explain the value of gas to the economy and the environment. Gas heats 84% of our homes, produces 30% of our electricity and is an essential ingredient in everyday items such as mobile phones and toothbrushes.”

Katharine Peacock, Managing Director of ComRes, said: “Cutting energy bills is a clear priority for British adults. Four in five say that they are actively taking measures to reduce the amount of energy they use, and more than half say that reducing the cost of energy should be prioritised over environmental concerns.

“Nevertheless, majorities of Britons are concerned about energy security and would like to see moves to a lower carbon economy. So while important, the debate around Britain's energy makeup will need to address issues beyond cost alone.

“There is limited public awareness about the extent of the UK’s reliance on gas imports. However, just more than half of Britons agree that we should prioritise using gas produced in the UK, including shale gas, produced by hydraulic fracturing, over energy imported from overseas.”

Notes to editors

ComRes interviewed 2,007 GB adults online between the 27th and 29th November 2015. Data were weighted to be representative of all GB adults aged 18+. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

Gas demand figures, compared with the seasonal norm, sourced from National Grid “Prevailing View” on 20 January 2016.  See http://marketinformation.natgrid.co.uk/gas/frmPrevalingView.aspx.

On 20 January 2016, actual gas demand was 353 million cubic metres, compared with a seasonal normal demand of 289 million cubic metres, an increase of 22%.  

About the alliance

The following associations have joined forces to call for a much needed national dialogue about gas uses and supply in the UK.  They represent both users and producers of gas, and together represent large and small businesses supporting more than 2 million jobs across the country:

  • Chemical Industries Association
  • EEF the Manufacturers’ Organisation
  • Energy Intensive Users Group
  • Oil & Gas UK
  • United Kingdom Onshore Oil and Gas
  • Onshore Energy Services Group
  • Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce

The use of gas in the UK

Natural gas is a versatile and hugely important source of energy in the UK.  

  • Heat: Gas provides around 80% of domestic, commercial and industrial heat,[ii] and 84% of homes are heated by gas. [iii]
  • Cooking: 61% of cooking hobs are fuelled by gas. [iv]
  • Electricity: In 2014, 30% of the UK’s electricity was provided by gas [v], both as baseload electricity and as flexible back-up to intermittent renewable generation.  At 4.40pm on 19 January 2016, for example, wind was only providing 0.09 GW of power, while gas provided 22.1 GW. [vi]
  • Manufacturing: 500,000 jobs in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries depend on gas (including ethane and propane) as a raw material [vii], which is used to make almost anything – including clothing, plastics, toothpaste, medicines, cosmetics, adhesives and tyres.  
  • Agriculture: Gas is one of the main components of ammonia, used in nitrogen-based fertilisers [viii] which are spread on 75% of British farmland to help grow food. [ix]
  • Recycling: Glass recycling furnaces use 1 million cubic metres of gas every day to provide the heat needed to melt down the glass. [x]

Contact:
Newgate Communications:
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[i] Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Engineering the UK Electricity Gap, January 2016 http://www.imeche.org/docs/default-source/position-statements-energy/imeche-ps-electricity-gap.pdf?sfvrsn=0

[ii] Department of Energy and Climate Change, The Future of Heating: A strategic framework for low carbon heat in the UK, March 2012 https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/48574/4805-future-heating-strategic-framework.pdf

[iii] Department of Energy and Climate Change, United Kingdom housing energy fact file 2013, Tables 6a, 6b and 6d – data for 2011 (most recent year available) https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/united-kingdom-housing-energy-fact-file-2013

[iv] Energy Follow-Up Survey 2011, Report 9: Domestic appliances, cooking and cooling equipment, Prepared by BRE on behalf of the Department of Energy and Climate Change, December 2013 https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/274778/9_Domestic_appliances__cooking_and_cooling_equipment.pdf

[v] DECC, DUKES 2015, Chapter 5: Electricity, Table 5.1 https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/electricity-chapter-5-digest-of-united-kingdom-energy-statistics-dukes

[vi] See http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/

[vii] Chemical Industries Association http://www.cia.org.uk/Portals/0/Documents/Manifesto%202015_1_9.pdf

[viii] The main forms of inorganic nitrogen fertilisers are ammonium nitrate, urea, ammonium phosphates and ammonium sulphate.  Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, The British Survey of Fertiliser Practice: Fertiliser Use on Farm Crops for Crop Year 2013, p.9 https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/301474/fertiliseruse-report2013-08apr14.pdf

[ix] Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, The British Survey of Fertiliser Practice: Fertiliser Use on Farm Crops for Crop Year 2013, Table ES1 https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/301474/fertiliseruse-report2013-08apr14.pdf

[x] Remsol, Powering the circular economy: why the right energy policy is vital to success, 2014 http://www.mrw.co.uk/Journals/2014/10/10/h/f/y/20141009-Powering-the-circular-economy.pdf

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