As I write this, according to National Grid ESO, the UK generated 31% of its electricity in November 2023 using natural gas. We stand at a critical juncture, and we are not alone in the world. 

We face a future of continuing climate change, which requires the whole world to engage in achieving net zero targets, and then we need to do more – if we can believe the scientists (which we probably should). 

Even if the scientists are wrong, why wouldn’t we invest in renewable energy (the clue is in the name) and rid the world’s atmosphere of as much carbon as we can as soon as possible, saving the finite supply of fossil fuels for future generations who might need them? Future generations may also find a reliable way of burning them without damaging the atmosphere.

We probably should have done more sooner, but there have been hurdles: the supply chain, planning approvals, opposition to power projects, opposition to a grid upgrade, technology, infrastructure, raw materials, Covid 19, Brexit, skills and material supplies.

The UK’s political landscape has been in turmoil for several years now and this is not helping in moving our badly needed projects forward.

If we are to run electric cars, electric bikes, air source (electric powered) heat pumps, air circulation systems in heavily insulated buildings, offshore electrification, electric trucks, buses and more, we obviously need more electricity, much more.

Eastern Daily Press: Kevin Keable, chair of EEEGRKevin Keable, chair of EEEGR (Image: Newsquest)
Infrastructure is what we need, and we need it now if we are to wean ourselves off natural gas by the target dates. For the next few decades, we will need nuclear power from Hinkley and Sizewell C, a more suitable grid to harness all of the wind, solar and other renewable sources, we’ll need imported electricity, battery storage and we will need gas.

The announcement that strike rates for CfD Round 6 have been increased by more than 50% is very encouraging, although we now have to make up for lost time from Round 5.

Oil and gas is an interesting subject. Many people seem to think that gas production and use is going to end soon – it isn’t. We will be burning natural gas for decades to come.

Government policy will see the banning of new gas boilers in the future and new petrol and diesel cars and trucks, or at least the need for new vehicles to produce zero emissions, but again the recent change in policies has unsettled the vehicle manufacturing industry, which plans many years ahead.

We shouldn’t rely too heavily on natural gas from overseas either, because as we have found, that can be interrupted at very short notice.

Our friendly neighbours in Norway are unlikely to turn off the tap; they have more gas than their population can use, and they have invested heavily in hydropower, a renewable source not readily available in the UK (Norway has nearly 90% of its electrical power coming from hydro).

The transition to net zero is happening, but it will not happen overnight.

So, EEEGR will continue to support the entire energy ecosystem in the East of England – the businesses, the people and the projects that form part of an ever-changing landscape, as we head towards our net zero targets.

Read more about the East of England’s energy industry in the latest issue of Insight Energy.