How Electricity Switch May Resolve Energy Crisis

Britain, like so many other countries, is facing a looming energy crisis as the price of gas remains high in the face of cuts to the supply from Russia – leaving many asking when and how the situation may end.

While Britain gets very little gas from Russia, relying mostly on imports from Norway alongside existing UK North Sea field supplies, the global price of gas has soared as the Kremlin seeks to use the energy as a geopolitical weapon to pressurise European nations supporting Ukraine. This means while the supply is safe, prices are still far higher than at the start of this year.

This has meant a range of steps being taken to support consumers over the winter with higher bills looming, but in the longer run the situation may have hastened the switch from gas to green electricity, not least in households. That means there could be lots of vacancies on domestic electrician courses as the modes of power switch.

Speaking to the BBC, Simone Tagliapietra, a Senior Fellow at Bruegel, a research body examining steps taken by governments to protect customers, said: “Such heavy subsidisation is unsustainable from a public-finance perspective, and damaging from geopolitical and energy-security perspectives – not to mention for the environment.”

These two imperatives are likely to give momentum to the drive for more non-fossil fuel energy, whether nuclear, wind, wave or solar, all of which will translate into more electricity. All this is alongside a switch from cars driven by fossil fuels to electricity.

It will certainly not be something that happens overnight, with the UK currently relying on fossil fuels for 53 per cent of energy, although some of that translates into electricity from the burning of gas at power stations. Indeed, if Liz Truss becomes prime minister next month, she has pledged to change government policy to allow fracking again to boost Britain’s gas supplies. 

Even so, it is clear that the direction of travel is clearly away from fossil fuels, with the combination of environmental concerns and the chance to stop Russia using energy as a weapon being sure to drive both investment and technological innovation in green electricity.