By Wamia Zaman
London, 17 October : The explanation for the UK’s energy crisis is a composite of unprecedented events, irresponsibility, and a lack of efficiency. The repercussions of COVID-19 and the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine have been escalated by the UK’s own poor choices: The UK’S scarcity of energy has exposed the audacious nature of our government.
When did it all begin?
The notable surge in energy supply was found in 2021. At this time, the UK had been slowly recovering from the pandemic: lockdowns were no longer in place and people were returning to school or their place of work. However, as the economy re-opened, gas and electricity prices began to rise expeditiously – as the high demand exceeded the actual supply. In October 2021, the average household paid £1,400 or £ 1200 per annum for its energy (‘Brits face substantial energy bill increases. Here’s what’s happening and what help could be coming’, Jenni Reid) The new government has capped the price at £2500 per household which will not affect the wealthy but for the poorest ones this doubling prices will further badly further effect of the crippling situation already provided by the inflation and scarcity of goods and services.
The rapid increase in gas and electricity prices was further heightened (indirectly) by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This invasion has led to Russia blocking the Nord Stream pipeline from delivering gas to the rest of Europe. Despite Russia not being one of the UK’s main exporters of gas, Russia itself is a major global importer and, subsequently, has disrupted other global gas markets – some of which the UK might have been dependent on. Moreover, this disruption has contributed to the increased gas prices in the UK- as now the UK has to import gases from other sources. The UK itself provides more than 50% of its needs and usually imports the rest from Norway. Hence, without incresing its own capacity Britain cold be in dire straits.
The UK’s pre-existing problem
Sanjay Raja, the chief UK economist at Deutsche Bank states that “The fact of the matter is the UK is more highly dependent on gas.” The UK has yet to effectively eradicate gas boilers – 85% of homes in the UK still use gas, provided by the North Sea gas fields – which is declining in availability. The UK has also half-heartedly claimed to end heating homes using fossil fuels by 2035 without any legislation whatsoever. On the contrary, other countries in western Europe such as France and Germany have taken decisive action. France, for example, has decided to ban gas boilers at a much sooner time – in 2022. Germany has also decided to ban gas boilers at a similar time, by 2024. Germany, even before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, had crafted policies that would increase the amount of solar and wind power to make buildings more energy efficient. Germany had specified that, after January 2024, 65% of heating must come from renewable energy sources. Furthermore, the UK, out of all of Western Europe, has the least energy-efficient households. Rosenow has also highlighted the UK’s incompetence in comparison to Germany, stating that Germany would spend €56.3bn from 2023 to make buildings more energy efficient and that ‘Britain is spending a fraction of that’ The negligent attitude that the UK has towards energy efficiency could be a result of the UK’S ‘mild summers and winters’ (Jan Rosenow, European program director at the Regulatory Assistance Project, an energy non-governmental organization). However, as global warming is imposing an increasing threat to the global climate, the UK is experiencing much more extreme weather events. Perhaps the colder winters that we will experience in the future will force the UK to be more conclusive.