If the UK were to try and achieve COP21 ideas – hold on to your hats!

Guest essay by Philip Foster

COP21 Paris climate conference urged that all home heating should move away from gas to be all electric. In the UK the Climate Change Act already assumes this scenario will be put into practice.1

Just how realistic is this for the UK?

There are around 16 million (16 × 106) households connected to the gas grid network in the UK.

The average household boiler is rated at 60 kiloWatt

To replace that with electric home heating would still require about the same electrical capacity. (Remember even a single electric shower is 7 kW, and an oven approaching 10 kW).2

Here’s the math(s):

16 × 106 × 60 kW = 96 × 107 =~ 100 × 107 = 109 kW = 106 MegaW = 103 GigaW

or about 1 TeraW of extra power.


Drax power station in the UK

Drax, in Yorkshire England (which was the UK’s biggest and most efficient coal fired power station), generates about 4 GW, therefore to generate this extra 1 TW we would need to build about 250 Drax sized power stations, or erect half a million 5 MW (in reality, 2 MW) wind turbines [for reference: current requirement in the UK is a mere 40 GW, that is 0.04 TW].

Now let’s go to COP21’s second idea that all cars should be electric.3

In the UK there are about 35 million cars (just over double the number of households).

1 Horsepower is about 750 W

So an average 100 HP car engine = 75 kW (marginally more than the average household boiler)

This means we need, not just 1 TW extra electric power to charge up these vehicles, but more than 2 TW.

That is 500 Drax-sized power stations or one million wind turbines.


Drax; turbine hall.

Combining household heating with electric cars the UK would need an extra 3 TW of generating power.

Although, arguably, the 3 TW are not always needed, they will be, frequently so, around 5-6pm on a weekday. People return home, plug their cars, switch on their heating, and start cooking – all on electric.

So COP21 (and our very own Climate Change Act) is asking the UK to build 750 more Drax sized power stations4 or 1.5 million more wind turbines. And, of course, we would need to completely rebuild the electricity Grid to take this nearly 75 fold increase in load. Also every street in the UK will need to be dug up to install much higher capacity cabling.

I’m not sure the English language has a word strong enough to describe this. It’s beyond insanity. Perhaps, as Roger T. put it: “the British like their understatement: ‘problematic’?”


1. See Christopher Booker:


2. Much talk about using heat pumps. But here again this is nigh impossible:

a. Most houses using gas are terraced or semi-detached in urban areas where there is obviously a limit to how much heat can be extracted from the ground without creating a local ‘permafrost’.

b. The necessary excavations in such areas would almost certainly hit gas mains (however defunct!), sewers, water pipes and electricity cabling.

3. Issues about electric cars:

a. The Tesla’s battery weighs 800kg – nearly a tonne. That is the equivalent of about eight extra passengers present for a whole journey. Range, if you are lucky, 200 miles. If it’s cold then less, as the power available from the battery drops by 50% for every ten degree drop in temperature. A petrol (gasoline) car for the same range would use fuel that weighed perhaps 16kg, diminishing, with no measurable change in available power for a ten degree drop in temperature.

b. Now imagine you are out on a lonely road in a blizzard in a Tesla. You have no heating; power diminishing due to the cold; you meet a snow drift; the vehicle slowly grinds to a halt with no available power. What can you do? Find a recharging point? Fat chance! Stay in the vehicle and hope for rescue? You’ll probable freeze to death. Get out and walk? a similar fate.

In a gas vehicle, unless you run out of fuel, you have heating, you are less likely to get stuck. Even if you do run out of fuel, you’ll probably have a spare can in the trunk: half a minute and you running again.

4. Just how many US forests will this require? Currently Drax consumes 7 million tonne per annum of ‘biomass’ – mostly imported wood pellets from the USA – for half its boilers. Assuming the new requirement of 750 Drax sized stations have to be built, they will consume a minimum of 5 billion tonne of wood pellets per annum!

Philip Foster

convenor Paris Climate Challenge www.pcc15.org

author, ‘While the Earth Endures: Creation, Cosmology and Climate Change’


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Or… you could carpet the British Isles with solar panels.
But then there would be no room for roads, which takes care of the electric car problem.


Solar panels.
United Kingdom.
This is that cloudy, sometimes drizzly archipelago off the NW [that is ‘N O R T H West’] coast of Europe.
The southernmost tip is about 50 degrees North – the Sun reaches an elevation of over sixty degrees above the horizon for several weeks a year – in the very south . . . . .
The southern tip of Hudson’s Bay is at about the same latitude as the southernmost bit of the M25 – London’s Orbital Motorway. Hudson’s Bay does go further north, certainly.
The northernmost point of the UK is within 400 nautical miles of the Arctic Circle.
In Lerwick, in the Shetlands, the Sun is above the horizon for less than six hours a day near the Winter Solstice.
Yes, we’re bathed in the Gulf Stream/North Atlantic Drift.
But, really – solar panels?
Solar panels???
Without doubt – somewhat problematic!

does somewhat problematic = imposstupid?


I don’t think the English have as mild a word as that for something that certainly involves the letter ‘F’ – repeatedly!


Auto sez:
Solar panels???
Without doubt – somewhat problematic!

Exactly. My point being if you’re going to do something stupid, go all in. I was waiting for someone to point out the obvious; that to power the UK with solar, it would also take care of the population as there would be no room left for them, let alone cars.
Wait up! Maybe everyone could move underground with the next evolutionary step being The Mole People.

the UK to build 750 more Drax sized power stations or 1.5 million more wind turbines.
sounds about right. few people have any realistic view of how much power there is in fossil fuels. in comparison the average north American household uses about 1 gallon of gasoline worth of electricity per day.
1 gallon of gasoline = 33KWh @ $0.10/KWh = $3.30 gallon electricity equivalent.
Of course even if you build the 1.5 million more wind turbines they still need to be backed up by 750 more Drax sized power stations for those days when the wind doesn’t blow.

Using a quick check using figures from other posts I find that the UK will need 18.3 times existing capacity. Something that is impossible for the UK to achieve in the next 100 years without a technological breakthrough, given the time and money it took to install the existing capacity.
35 million vehicles will require charging 6kWh mainly overnight.
households 16,500 kWh (gas) electricity 3,300 kWh annual
27.0 million households in the UK
vehicles = 6×365 = 21,000 KWh x 35 million = 735 thousand-million-KWh
households = 16500 + 3300 = 19,800 KWh x 27 million = 534.6 thousand-million-Kwh
existing = 3300 KWk x 21 million = 69.3 thousand-million-KWh
total required = (735+534.6)/69.3 = 18.3 times current capacity.
The vehicle usage seems quite small, but even so the electrical capacity required is still 18.3 times current capacity. Hard to do when you are shutting down all your coal and nuclear plants.

oops, looks like an error 6×365 = 2100 KWh. This number seems too low for vehicles. Hard to believe that vehicle traffic would require less energy than households.

using the reduced number for vehicles I get 8.8 times existing capacity will be required. Still very unlikely.
I suspect the true number will be higher as the vehicle number seems way too low.


You guys all missed the fact that Agenda 21 says that heating and A/C are unsustainable. Thus, such electrical needs can be completely left out of the above calculations. Everybody will be in thermal underwear and body blankets in the winter, or die of hypothermia, or sweating it out on hot days with fans; wait, they will probably outlaw fans as people will go to them when A/C is outlawed. Sweating will become a new country past-time.

Gerry, England

On Tuesday 19 January as night time temperatures went below zero C, the UK’s 5500 windmills generated 66MW or a thousandth of the demand. 75% of the demand was covered by fossil fuels and of that nearly 40% was still from coal. Is ‘beyond stupid’ the phrase we are looking for?

Not quite, Mr Bond…. May I suggest a review of the DECC DUKES data, which I did to answer this question 5 years ago. The answer at that time was that the big macro numbers for energy use in transport and domestic heating required similar amounts of net primary energy to support them, together a bit more than the UK’s total electrical energy use. So a bit more than double the generation to be all electric in those three areas of transport, domestic heating and current electrical use combined. Just the facts. It’s here, not perfect and a tad dated. Peer review welcomed:
nb: Renewables can’t deliver the 330Twh we need today, at 2 or 3 times the wholesale price by law, never mind when needed. And, of course, we have better options that reduce CO2 emissions faster and cheaper w/o any subsidies. Gas then nuclear replacing coal on existing grid connected sites, no renewables required. Put simply, energy policy on renewables is a clear and very unequivocal legalised fraud on the facts of the costed physics on each of the policy claims of energy adequacy, cost, sustainability, security and availability, at least. And decarbonisation, its key justifier. Utterly bogus. On the facts. Opinion irrelevant..
The DECC narrative and David MacKay’s work generally agrees with this – a doubling by 2050, trebling by 2100, if we start going for synthetic replacements for oil and other chemicals using nuclear energy to manufacture them going towards the end of commodity fossil energy, plus any economic growth we might return to if we leave the EC.
Note that w/o fossil to justify their regressive existence renewables are wholly pointless. Nothing to “offset” left on the grid, and too expensive and intermittent, compared to nuclear base load that just works.
I will rework this to use the latest DUKES energy data shortly. I work in a similar but less detailed and clever back of the envelope approach to that Prof David MacKay used when he did all this work “Sustainable Energy – w/o all the hot air”. Available on line.
His only fault was not to tell the DECC what his work meant in hard costed delivery reality terms on our real time grid as it is. Like an interconnect we use occasionally costs as much for the cable per GW as new CCGT power station on our grid that replaces coal fired power at a 60% CO2 reduction, etc. Gas replacing all coal will cut grid overall CO2 emissions from fossil generation by well over 40%, wind offsetting all gas on a 30% duty cycle about 6%, at twice the wholesale price. Which is best? All easy to calculate using DUKES data.
Avoiding spelling out the consequences to our hard of thought MInisters with DIrectorships awaiting in renewables companies allowed them to go on deluding themselves re renewables, so they and senior civil servant’s lobbyists could profit from easy guaranteed money for producing expensive energy at 2 or 3 times the wholesale price by law for 20 years. This is at actual and massive consequential fiscal subsidy cost to the bill payer, and to the environment of avoidable CO2 emissions, versus gas and nuclear replacing coal. But he couldn’t tell them the truth w/o losing his job as Chief Scientific Adviser to the DECC.
We all owe David the debt of publishing the truth for those who can understand it, also Caesare Marcetti, Vaclav Smil and Jesse Ausubel have also clearly set out the history and consequences of basic energy physics going forward. Papers here………
Vaclav Smil is one of Bill Gates top 10 reads. Very much contrasting the science facts to the science fiction of those decitful promoters of renewable energy as a religion and believe they can make science up to support what they want, and not bother to prove their claims on the physics, while passing laws to say their beliefs must be so, and denial of their bogus beliefs is a crime against society. By the time the deceit meets the implacable laws of physics they are all very rich from exploiting their legalised fraud, and retired of course. You can list Huhne, Hendry, Davey and Yeo as ministers who both promoted this fraud into law and have been well rewarded by renewables lobbyists for their trouble, not sure about DECC Milliband. No doubt some senior DECC civil servants. The business of government at work. €co Fraud on the science fact. etc. CEng, CPhys, MBA


The main point of the green agenda is not to replace existing power sources, but do without them. Therefore, no cars, no planes, no heating, no cooking, no showers. There are no problem with these calculations if everyone, in a worlwide élan of solidarity, agrees to roll back civilisation.

Brilliantly summarises the Green agenda. Also their Greenshirt zealot beliefs on nuclear power which is the only way to deliver all the energy we need at 50 degrees North, sustainably at zero carbon, genetic engineering to eradicate disease, and breed hte crops we need to feed the hungry world sustainably so we can ALL be developed rather than return to agrarian misery for the masses. by informed slective breeding instead of Monks on stools, etc. Green luddism. Which is making its American fear agenda crusaders a lot of money and goves them power with poiticians who prefer delusion al ideology to the facts of the science. The greens are totally against using science to make the world a better pace. Their agenda is to reverse this movement. Take a look at Ronald Bailey “The End of Doom” if you want to understand where this comes from, zealotry driven cukture of America, too much money, too many cukts, too many gullible idiots to be exploited. Hence the problems with the Scientologists and all the irrational belief led science fiction of the First Church of Christ’s Fruitcakes. America is full of shallow and vulnerable people who just want to have something to be scared about and object to, to bring some meaning into their lives. Weare suffering from their spin off of this industry of falesly promoted science fiction fear in our energy policy. Gas then nuclear replacing coal must decarbonise the grid faster and cheaper than any other approach, unsubsidised, as well as nuclear being the only adequately energetic, intense and controllable energy source to power the grid after fossil. CEng, CPhys


Bravo Sir, you have captured the essence of the movement. Although you fail to note that the climate protectors or whatever they will choose call themselves will require certain things like air and road travel to watch over things.

You need to carpet the UK regardless of wind or solar.
Haven’t seen the land use part of this analysis from anyone yet so here goes a quick and dirty calculation assuming 2MW towers…
According to the UKWED (UK Wind Energy Database), about 75% or the wind turbines in the UK are land based.
As for the land area required for turbines…

The GE 1.5-MW turbine, with a 70.5-m rotor span, therefore requires at least 37 acres per tower in a single line perpendicular to the wind (25 acres/MW) or 123 acres per tower in an array (82 acres/MW). Each Vestas V90 1.8-MW turbine, with a 90-m rotor, requires 60-200 acres (40-111 acres/MW). Tom Gray of the American Wind Energy Association has written, “My rule of thumb is 60 acres per megawatt for wind farms on land.” That may still not be enough for maximum efficiency. More recent research at Johns Hopkins University by Charles Meneveau suggests that large turbines in an array need to be spaced 15 rotor diameters apart, increasing the above examples to 185-250 acres required per installed megawatt.

So, for easy math, let’s just conservatively use the Tom Gray number applied to the math above for illustrative purposes.
If 75% of the towers were land based, converting UK households from gas to wind might take: 375,000 land towers (@ 2MW) x 120 acres/2MW = 45,000,000 acres (182,108 sq.km.). This is an area equivalent to 75% of the entirety of the UK (243,000sq.km. total) or the size of the US state of North Dakota (19th largest state).
Now converting the houses AND cars to wind electric the numbers above are tripled.
Looks like the UK needs to get into the land acquisition game again like back in the 17th century so they can provide the area needed for all those 12th century technology windmills that will be needed.

Greens would prefer you, or at least those who are not them, to use horses and carbohydrate power for other labour. Back to the future! I think we should set up a commune where they can live off agrarian power sources and crops, with herbal medicine and witch doctor NHS. and build a BIG wall around it. We could call it Wales, or Scotland? They’d none of them be missed. etc.

“COP21 Paris climate conference urged that all home heating should move away from gas to be all electric. In the UK the Climate Change Act already assumes this scenario will be put into practice.”
Can you imagine the electric heating and A/C costs on the public. It is a purposeful intent to impoverish and bestow cruelty (people will lower temps in homes) upon the population. Evil is not only among us, it is governing us.


Wind turbines currently use gas fired power plants for backup. Does this mean the UK will need another 1,000 gas fired power plants along with the millions of turbines?
No wonder they need to frack the Island.

Norbert Twether

Wind turbines (at present) have a life-time of 25 years, so (assuming you have somehow already built 1.5 million of them) you will have a continual program of replacing 60,000 of them evry year – that’s a lot of landfill – the “greens” won’t like that :¬) Also replacing/refurbishing 50 tons of generator, sitting on top of each tower.
At some time in the future, the oil & gas will run out – let’s hope someone will build an appropriate replacement to generate real, lasting and useful amounts of energy, before it does run out. Clearly the present wind-turbines and solar panels are not an answer – only fusion will provide the large amounts of power that humanity needs.
What the world needs is a “JFK” type announcement to “Choose to go and build fusion power reactors” – – in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win……….
If the world governments fail to do that “before the oil runs out” then everyone will be in deep trouble……..


kokoda: “Can you imagine the electric heating and A/C costs on the public. It is a purposeful intent to impoverish and bestow cruelty (people will lower temps in homes) upon the population. Evil is not only among us, it is governing us.”
I pay 12.545p per kWh for electricity and 3.817p per kWh for gas used for heating and hot water, so electricity is 3.286 times as expensive as gas..
Over the last year I used 9,727 kWh of gas, costing £371.12.
So if I had to use purely electricity, last year would cost me an extra £848,90.
My house is fairly well insulated with three foot thick walls and relatively small double glazed windows, so once warmed up holds its temperature well, and I consider my heating bill to be well below average.
Presumably the theory is that the new “Green” electricity will cost less than the old “dirty” fossil fuel variety. If you believe that you will believe anything.
Incidentally, it appears that whoever dreamed up this crackpot scheme has entirely overlooked that the conversion of fossil fuel into electricity and the transport of that electricity to the point of use is a massively less efficient process – not better than 50% by my quick calculations – than burning the gas at that point, but hey, who expects logic and reason from “Greens”?


And which little Lord has a company that runs transmission lines to wind farms, and would love to quadruple lines to every house in the land.

Gerry, England

Or the pretend conservative government that the UK currently has.

James Bull

I remember a letter to the (I think Daily Telegraph) from someone saying if they had turned down their central heating thermostat by one degree each time as recommended by various government ministers they would now be in minus figures.
James Bull


Not in a letter to the DT, but I have said in various places and at various times that if I had followed that advice each time the government recommended it in one of their ‘save fuel’ campaigns I would long since have died of hypothermia.
I’ve also said that the exponents of this madness appear totally ignorant of anything to do with electricity generation and appear to think that it self-creates by magic when you throw the switch.


Don’t confuse me with facts. I’m busy dreaming of my carbon dioxide-free utopia right now.


Maybe also on his first day, he will ask the djinn for his other two wishes.
I do not know much, but I am pretty sure we will not have a president who took his honeymoon in the Soviet Union.


“My first day . . .” LOL! Thanks, that’s a keeper

Tom in Florida

I wonder if he’ll rest on the seventh day.

Brian H

CO2-free = bio-hell, not utopia.


Forgive me if I have this wrong but I believe I read that for every MW capacity of wind power generation we have available we must, simply for the frequent days when it does not work, have an immediate instant on backup option of the same generation capability? So even if you go the wind route and find places for those 1.5 million bird killers it’s not an either or option as you’d still require the power stations as backup.
This is truly madness.

Alan Robertson

You don’t have it wrong. If the grid is to deliver reliable power, then there must be available backup for wind/solar shortcomings.


Yep, last week we had a few days stuck in a ridge of high pressure. Temperatures barely above freezing.
“At 5pm yesterday, electricity generation from wind farms dropped to a paltry 72 MW, just 0.1% of total demand of 52.1 GW.
The 24-hour period up to 10.30 pm was little better, averaging just 0.3% “


Batteries, batteries I say, millions and millions of dirty big batteries, we could put them on barges anchored off the coast (no room on land because of all the bird killers and solar panels)


To be fair though with all those propellers on board we could probably sail our little Island further south and get the solar panels to work.


zootcadillac sez:
To be fair though with all those propellers on board we could probably sail our little Island further south and get the solar panels to work.
BIG Grin! Thanks for that one.
(Just gotta make sure it doesn’t tip over while under way.)


Yup, gotta be careful as we approach the tipping point.


But…if England were to propel southwards, eventually you all will end up in Antarctica!

Paul of Alexandria

Or you have put in 3-5 x the turbines/panels and store the power somewhere. The best place to store it is in a high lake, recovered via turbine generator. So, we just sacrifice the Scotish highlands for the English power grid.


Except …
Skip down to the table labelled “Power reactors planned and proposed”.


Good for 0.0179 of your 3 TW anyway 🙂


Current UK demand is 43.47GW. Something amiss with your numbers? If my fuse board is rated at 60KW it doesn’t mean I’m going to fry the thing 24 x 7 !!!

The numbers seem fantastically high to me. Another 750 drax? Can that be correct?
David Mackay, former chief scientist at decc wrote that burning gas should be made a ‘thermogenic’ crime but he also wrote a good book pointing out that renewables could not do the job we want them to. At some point we might use the ocean surrounding us as a good energy source but until then, at our latitude, solar farms are a non starter and wind farms to unreliable


“Can it be correct?”
Looks like nonsense to me (confuses load with consumption). Here’s what David Mackay came up with for future demand (assuming a jump to electric vehicles, heat pumps, etc.). The five energy plans:

Ben of Houston

They are fantastically high because these numbers assume 100% use at any one time. Cut the number in half for even the worst case scenario. Typically it would be a tenth of this claim.
And heat pumps can’t create permafrost. That’s foolish. Typically a heat pump works by exchanging heat with the air. You can actually get pretty good capacity as long as outside is above freezing (typical HSPF is 8.5, where you get 8.5 kW of heat for every kW of electricity). However, they become useless far below freezing. Ground loop heat pumps, which circulate water below the ground, can work at lower temperatures due to the deep earth being warmer, but are more limited in where you can install them.
Mr. Watts, this sort of nonsense is detracting from our site. We need to give realistic estimates. Ludicrous overestimations hurt our own position.

Richard Barraclough

Of course it’s not correct. It’s just a sensationalist way of pooh-pooh-ing the COP21 requirements. The average household usage is more like 1.5 kW, not 60kW, and so those figures can be divided by about 40.
Probably still somewhat ambitious, but if you’re going to make a point, at least use reasonable numbers

Paul of Alexandria

You have to plan for peak use, not average.


You plan for peak of use, but peak has nothing to do with the sum of individual fuse ratings!

Richard Barraclough: What a lot of people forget is there is average supply, peak day and peak hour demand.
Last month I used 3081 kWh. When it is really cold (30 to 40 below), I can easily use over 4000kWh. But peak demand is OVER 12 Kw. That is the size of my emergency generator. It can run my water to water heat pump (3.5 kW), microwave, deep freeze, refrigerator, TV, some lights and a few other appliances before it starts to lag and dim the lights. A lot of people forget about starting amps and PEAK power. Your MONTHLY bill gives you average consumption for you house, NOT Peak Hour consumption. Peak hour demand can be several times the average demand. Never mind adding a welder or other large draw to the regular household demand.


I don’t understand your post. kw is rating kwh is usage.
My boat has an 8 kw generator which can operate a lot including AC.
My home furnace is about 30 kw and it runs a lot in the winter. Most new homes in the US are probably 100 to 200 amps at 120 volts.

The UK has 15 reactors generating about 18% of its electricity and most of these are to be retired by 2023.
•The first of some 19 GWe of new-generation plants is expected to be on line by 2025.
Would you tear down on old bridge before building a new one in its place? So why shut down power plants BEFORE new ones are built? Unless of course the aim is to jack up prices for the remaining power plants.


Quote from the article referenced, interesting:
“In the light of developments since 2006, public opinion in UK has remained positive regarding nuclear power, despite the Fukushima accident. Of more significance is that there is strong political support across all three main parties.
In July 2012 a YouGov survey found that 63% of Britons supported the use of nuclear power, and only 22% opposed building new plants on brownfield sites. Twice as many supported electricity market reform as opposed it (35% and 18% respectively) and interest in global warming was low – 59% compared with 72% in 2008.”

Rob Potter

If anyone has watched Okkupert (TV series from Norway – Occupied in english), then you will know that Thorium power stations can do this easily – or at least that is what the Norwegian Prime Minister declared when he turned off all gas production from the North Sea!
The premise of the series (that the US is self-sufficient in energy and therefore doesn’t give a damm about Europe) does stretch things a bit, but it is great to see how quickly the rest of Europe throws Norway under the bus when they turn the taps off!

Alan Robertson

Listenin’ to: John Lee Hooker- “Serve You Right To Suffer”
(I watched it- being easily amused + Winter sloth)

Fly over Bob

” . . . a minimum of 5 billion tonne of wood pellets per annum!” Just how many square miles of forest would that be?

Alan Robertson

To date, not nearly enough to trigger any Green alarms, or scrutiny/revisions of agendas.


The numbers seem a bit high. 1kW will produce about 3400 BTU per hour and a car charger rated at 240 volts at 30 amps will take 7.2kW per hour.

a car charger rated at 240 volts at 30 amps will take 7.2kW per hour.
After 4.6 hours this is the energy equivalent of 1 gallon (US) of gasoline.


An 85 kwh Tesla battery pack would take over 11 hours for a full charge to go over circa 200 miles at 7.2kw/hr. Assuming the grid does not collapse.


This seems fundamentally flawed.
The need is for an installed capacity which exceeds aggregate household maximum demand (+ % safety factor), not capacity which exceeds the rated value of all installations.
I have a mixed gas/electric house. Average electric demand over the year is approx 1KW per hour. Peak short term demand is probably up to 15KW (oven, hob, washing machine) which occurs for a few minutes at a time if all appliances are switched on together. Installed household load (all electrical appliances is probably 50KW++).
Electric cars can be charged outside peak household demand, if necessary with off peak pricing to change behaviours. So assuming contemporaneous demand is simply wrong.
This does not mean all electric is better than gas. If gas is used for generation then the issue is the comparative efficiency of central electric supply vs distributed gas. Second issue is alternative ways (vs gas) of electricity generation – nuclear, wind, solar etc.

Mike G

Not much after peak time available if everything is electric. I have 10 kw of strip heat to back up my heat pump, but I live in the deep south. So, I’d guess you’d only need about 30 kw in the UK.


“The need is for an installed capacity which exceeds aggregate household maximum demand (+ % safety factor),”
France max is 102 GW and we have a lot of electric heating (way too much according to more than 97% of French ecoloons and other pseudo-experts).
Another factor needs to be considered: as more people switch to electric heating, the ratio of max/total increases, so few plants run as base and more run for peek; the plants are used less and their cost is spread less, meaning kWh cost jumps.
The cost of electric heating is more than the cost of non-heating electricity, for the same amount of energy, because people don’t use heating during summer.


Another way to look at it:
When you have electric heating:
When it’s sunny and hot outside, you don’t use electricity for heating.
So the sun is providing free heating, in your case a replacement for electricity.
So the sun provides virtual electricity for your electric heating.
So you have virtual solar electric power.
The issue of virtual solar is like the issue of real solar power, it’s a systemic issue: the production depends on the sun. The total production (virtual or real) of the region is strongly correlated.
Lack of “virtual sun electricity” results in very real electric demand.
So the systemic issue of electric heating is much like the systemic issue of solar power.
Yet, French ecoloons fight one and promote the other.


Hmm – I think you are mixing up kW (rate of usage) with kW-h (energy used). A 60kW boiler doesn’t make sense! Typically the electric geysers have 3 to 4kW elements and they don’t run continuously in a normal household.
So I’m not sure how you get to the numbers you mention.


He is, I’m afraid. He’s confusing the average boiler with an output of 60,000 Btus with kW. In kW it’s about 17.


I was converting that wattage to amps, and coming up with numbers that exceed the service capacity of any normal household. Watts is equal to amps times volts.
And watts (or the larger kW unit) is a unit of power, not energy.
Car numbers seem off. Check of the Tesla website lists home charger as 10 kW.
And weight of battery ignores that the electric car has a heavy battery, yes, but light electric motors. And a IC car has a light battery, but a very heavy engine and transmission. Full fuel tank, at twenty gallons (OK, that is for a large car or small pickup truck) is about 120lbs, plus weight of the tank.
It is true that a Tesla weighs much more than most sedans, but they are efficient in other ways. Regenerative breaking saves a lot of energy, for example.


BTW, I do not mean to contradict the general conclusion that these switchovers would be very expensive and would require a massive upgrading of the electric transmission and distribution infrastructure and generative capacity.

Check of the Tesla website lists home charger as 10 kW
after 3 and a third hours of charging, you have the energy equivalent of 1 gallon of gasoline.
Refueling on a long trip would sure be a drag.


They have those superchargers in some places.


But I do not think electric cars will be much m ore than a novelty unless they have rapid charging stations everywhere, or they develop tech to quickly switch out batteries.


The Tesla S weighs about 25% more than a Chevy Imapla which gets about 29 mpg on the highway
Front trunk cargo volume 5.3 cu ft; Turning circle 37 ft; Curb weight 4,647.3 lbs
TESLA costs over 3 x that of the Chevy which has a greater range.


Hey man, I was the one that posted the link to the curb weights, remember?


Sorry that you are offended.
I was just trying to put some meat on the bones by comparing the TESLA with a car that might be similar in interior size, maybe I did not pick a comparable size vehicle.
It is best in my mind to give some specific data in the main post. Your link did not cover cost or compare to similar vehicles or give mpg of similar vehicles.

Bloke down the pub

To overcome the problem of peak demand, the plan is to fit us all with smart meters, which by variable pricing, will ‘encourage us’ to only switch on when there is ample supply. More likely is that we’ll all just emigrate and the last one out will turn the light off.

@ Bloke, 9:57 am, where would you go the rest of the planet is going just as nuts if not worse. But Britain takes the cake and Norway turning of the oil? Then they are not far behind and here I thought Norway was the leading light. Me thinks the place has gone crazy, I was never one for the conspiracy thingy but Agenda 21 is being implemented as we speak!


No need to turn it off – it’ll be solar powered . . . .
Oh – of course!
Ninth root of zilch for three or four months a year.
Clown Town rules, of course, will overcome orbital geometry, precession, nutation, and the weather here in the British Isles.

People working in the real world would say, “Lets run the numbers.” People in the green world seldom do.


Remind me about the efficiency of this Carnot cycle I keep hearing about.
People with short memories forget about Central Maine Power in the 1980s. They were going to generate lots and lots and lots of power from the cogen of paper mills burning their waste wood. A lot of folks went over to electric heat. Between one thing or the other, it just didn’t work out. (Surprise? not.) Eventually, the company had to do a defensive bankruptcy to shed the State mandated purchase of the cogen power at above market rates.
You just do not fix stupid.
Nothing against burning waste wood btw. There is a fireplace insert burning wood pellets as I speak. I enjoy my fire, my wife enjoys that it doesn’t make a lot of smoke. Everyone is happy and the dog in front of it is nice and cosy.

Bob Burban

A cigarette weighs about 1 gram and second-hand smoke is classified as a health hazard. Now you have a log fire burning say 4 kg per night, the smoke going up the chimney as second-hand and spreading throughout the neighborhood. Where’s the EPA when you need it? Hmmm, probably fixing up old mines or rusty water pipes … somewhere.


Their top people have been in Flint Michigan for the past few years seeing to the water in that city.
God help them.


The EPA has banned most wood stoves last year.


Mr Foster,
You make a fundamental error. COP21 is part of Agenda 21. We are all just peasants to the ecowatermelons.
Why would working class peasants each need their own family auto mobile? Public transportation and bicycles (like eco friendly North Korea) will be provided.
Why would each live in a single family home with its own furnance and temp controled by said peasants?
Soviet style block apartments will be provided, along with heat and warm water, unless the tenant-peasants complain, then it will be shutoff until complaints stop.
Agenda 21, saving mankind from itself. Got it?

If gas is used for heating and gas is used for electricity, I don’t think it’s possible that electric heating could be more efficient. There are serious thermodynamic losses in electrical generation: I believe that even with the most modern combined-cycle turbines the efficiency is still only about 70%. Add to this the transmission and distribution losses.

Best CCGT are 61% efficient run as baseload. T&D losses are greater than 10% depending on grid. Can be as high as 30%. The high efficiency gas (propane) furnace at my farm house is 95%, since the output is heat, not electricity. So electric heating wastes about half the energy potentia of natural gas. Dumb. UK, get fracking. If worried about CO2, CCGT produces about 35% of what Drax does from coal.
You could never heat in winter with wind generated electricity in the UK. The winter high pressure systems are when it is coldest and there is the least wind. National Grid data says that condition can persist for days. First blocking high, millions would freeze to death.




“T&D losses are greater than 10% depending on grid. Can be as high as 30%.”
Where? In ridiculously large countries?

“T&D losses are greater than 10% depending on grid. Can be as high as 30%.”

Where? In ridiculously large countries?

Well, you can’t “reduce” the size of countries can you? Shrinking France, Canada, or Australia, China or the Russians might irritate them. And they’d STILL have to cross-connect their grids. Local power is used locally, transmitted as SHORT a distance as possible EVERYWHERE. Now, the regional (800-1200 mile) “grids” ARE cross-connected at specific “tie points” that are very well regulated. BUT! The power consumed at each local utility IS generated as close as possible to MINIMIZE the power transmitted across these tie-points. Losses further than 500-600 miles are very, very wasteful of energy. Distributing power further than 100 – 150 miles can be tolerated, but is not desired.
Best way to describe is as follows.
You have a long garden hose, 20 mm in diameter, but 10 meters long attached to a spray valve.
You can get 100% hose pressure at the end of the hose, but only if the spray valve is “off”. Turn it on to spray water, and you may get only 90% pressure.
Extend the hose to your neighbor’s house to try to fight a fire. You now have a 100 meter hose, and the same 100% pressure if the spray valve is “off”. Try spraying water, and you get 35% water pressure and a weak splash.
Extend the hose to 900 meters, and you barely see any flow at all.
You’re still connected “to the grid” .. You HAVE “voltage” but you have almost no “power” (“voltage x current”) after 1000 km when you try to use that power to do something useful.


“Shrinking France,”
No, France is small and densely populated. Power plants are well located (except two regions that lacks power sources, esp. Bretagne – parce que les bretons ont la tête dure). Grid losses are small.
“And they’d STILL have to cross-connect their grids.”
They don’t HAVE to, they WANT to. It’s cheaper to buy the missing bits of power from abroad than to be able to produce everything locally.
“Losses further than 500-600 miles are very, very wasteful of energy.”
That’s why you want well located power plants. (Which is impossible when Nature tells you were the power plants should be.)
For a ridiculously large country with a small population hence small power need, it might be more difficult to have power plants of the right size (“big is beautiful”) near peoples. Australia may also suffer from inept politics.


I was thinking the same thing. If you burn gas in your house, all the heat is in your house, minus what goes up the chimley, which is minimal I believe.
I am holding off on putting in a new water heater and clothes dryer until I get a propane tank for my new (for me) house. In dollars per BTU, gas and even trucked in propane is cheaper than most fuels here in the US.
Although with oil dropping to the levels it has the gap is closing. I have wondered if this is not at least part of the reason for the decline in oil prices? I think a lot of those big trucks out on the highway have switched to nat gas. The cost of oil went way up when the demand exceeded supply by a small fraction of total demand. So it would not take much reduction in demand, logically, to cause the reverse.
I wish we could get someone to propose some way of financing installing nat gas lines to every house in the country, sort of like the rural electrification act did that for electric power way back when.

Patrick MJD

When I lived in the UK many houses electrically heated used night storage heaters. They would use cheap rate power over night to heat up (I think they had some sort of ceramic blocks in them) and then be used when needed during the day.

Patrick MJD

Ah I see Kev-In-UK has made a reference to storage heaters. Yes I don’t know of anyone that uses them anymore (Very expensive compared to gas). Most central heating systems are gas fired boilers for both space heating, through radiators in each room, and hot water.

This question of efficiency is important I think especially when we’re talking to what Simple-Touriste calls an “eco-loon” (I like that very much BTW :). It seems burning either fossil fuels or “biomass” (aka “green” coal) will produce CO2 in similar if not identical amounts to burning the same substances locally, with the theoretical advantage that more waste products might be economically recovered in the centralized, mass production case.
But to what degree? If thermodynamic efficiency is 61% at the plant, and there’s a 30% transmission loss, a central plant burns 2x the fuel to provide the same power. Unless ts waste recovery is perfect, it can’t possibly compete with a 98% efficient gas furnace on-site from an emissions perspective?
Nuclear and hydro power are obviously a different story, but it seems to me someone’s leg is being pulled whenever the tech being advanced involves actually using combustion of some sort.


“there’s a 30% transmission loss”
If so you have a badly designed system, maybe the power plants are too remote. Maybe because they use “renewable energy” that couldn’t be used elsewhere.
“it can’t possibly compete with a 98% efficient gas furnace”
Where can such thing be found?
Will it be 98% efficient for all its lifetime? What is its lifetime?

“it can’t possibly compete with a 98% efficient gas furnace”

Where can such thing be found?
Will it be 98% efficient for all its lifetime? What is its lifetime?

Sure. A simple hot water heater, gas-fired, well-insulated inside a home’s walls with a clear burner is about 95-98% efficient at heating water in the homes as described above. Lasts 12-15 years. Costs little. Found worldwide. In civilized countries burning fossil fuels. When it needs replacing, as in my daughter’s house last week, it takes one trip by a plumber and a soldering iron, couple of screwdrivers to install. Two hours. Then you’re good for another 12-15 years.


” A simple hot water heater, gas-fired, well-insulated inside a home’s walls with a clear burner is about 95-98% efficient”
So you are telling me that only 2% goes in the exhaust? How is that even possible? What is the output temperature? What is the size of heat exchanger? Can you fit that huge device in a flat?
“Costs little”
How little? Less than 300
Also, how much is the maintenance? (the mandatory check every year)
The problem with central heating here is the huge fix cost compared to cheap electric heaters.


I’m afraid that the author has his assumptions and sums very wrong. He is confusing Btus with kW. The average home would need an electric boiler about 17kW, not 60! An average electric shower is 9kw, not 7kw, and an oven about 2kw not 10kw!
The future for domestic heating in the UK looks likely to be combined heat and power units – run by gas, to produce power for electric heating, and the heat produced would provide hot water needs. The current problem with these is that they are £20,000 a piece. With such units, the draw on the national grid will actually diminish, not increase. The government’s preferred plan is district heating (so-called Heat Networks), but these have problems all of their own.


I had similar thoughts – most domestic CH boilers will be 15 to 20kW, but for on demand hot water it is higher, I think ours is 30 or 35kW.
For the last 40 years or so, since the widespread distribution of natural gas, house heating has mostly been by gas. I personally believe this has accounted for a lot of the UHI in towns, as folk tend to have more ventilation and gas is much cheaper than electricity. When I was a kid, we had storage heaters, and my parents were always poor due to the cost and outr house was always kept as cool as possible! I don’t know of anybody on night time electric (storage heaters) anymore, though I’m sure there will be some in more rural areas.
The article is somewhat alarmist and a bit ‘out’ on the figures, but the underlying principle of an grid electric only energy supply system is still absurd. The only way a full electric system can operate without massive grid/load/generation improvements would be if ALL housing became much more efficient in respect of insulation and therefore energy requirements. Very modern ‘efficient’ houses can be heated with a few kW so I believe? – which is kind of what most houses use on top of their gas central heating!
On the presumption that every house in the UK is going to last another 40 years (apparently mortgage companies assume such a lifespan for mortgage purposes?) before being replaced, it is going to take a long long time before we are a nation of thermally efficient residents!


Here in Florida almost everyone has electric heat, hot water, cooking, and clothes drying. Up in Philly these are all nat gas, and have been forever.
There are no gas pipeline distribution networks down here. If you want gas, for nearly everyone except industrial use in certain areas, you must use propane, which is not as cheap, and can run out during emergencies.


I should have added, that re nat gas availability for household use, I think once you are outside of the big cities up north, most homes do not have gas service via direct pipes. Using Florida because I know that for sure here, but I think the Western States, and anyplace that homes are spread way out, do not have gas.
All the old big cities do, because the pipes were in before electrification. Up in Philly, there are gas lines over a hundred and fifty years old…consisting of cast iron based tubes of rust, mostly. Every Spring, esp ones like last year, soil settles and lines rupture and bad things happen. Too expensive to dig up a city to proactively replace them, it would seem.

Patrick MJD

When I lived in the Wairarapa in New Zealand (NZ), a rural region north of Wellington, almost all houses where heated electrically and by that I mean stand-alone heaters plugged in to a wall outlet. Most houses do not have cavity wall insulation and walls are just 100mm thick with 10mm – 20mm of exterior weatherboard and 10mm plasterboard inside. The meters could be remotely controlled and high demand appliances like ovens could be effectively “turned off” (Well, it was in my house anyway as it was new). However, I had propane gas water heating. Two 45kg bottles. Used to last about 2 weeks per bottle for bathing and cooking (I actually don’t recall accurately length of time and costs anymore). Electricity in NZ, even though mostly from hydro, is very very expensive IMO. But then 15% GST is added to the bill too…and you are billed monthly.

Mike Smith

“The average household boiler is rated at 60 kiloWatt”
This converts to 200,000 BTU/hour. That is an industrial sized boiler — they don’t make residential units of that capacity. 15-20kW is probably more reasonable.
I think you still have a point but there are some serious errors in your estimates.


Reality will have to dawn soon. Cop 21 commitments cannot be achieved with available technology, even if there is a big swing to nuclear. The zealots are in denial over the impracticality of their proposals.

James Francisco

Philip. I hope that I don’t seem harsh but your figuring of electrical power required to replace gas furnaces is way to high or your average houses in the UK are really big. A 1.5KW electrical heater in each room would be plenty for most houses. They would not have to be on all the time either. Another error is to assume that because a gasoline powered car has a 100 hp engine that it uses 100 hp. We should avoid using global warming alarmist tactics of greatly exaggerating a small problem.

Andrew Parker

The only way to achieve COP 21 goals is to drastically reduce consumption(consumers). There are no realistic plans to increase generating capacity. That has always been the long-term intent of the neo-fabians behind this scheme.

Bengt Abelsson

A normal swedish residential house, with direct electrical heating, would seldom have more than 25A main fuses, or max power of 16 kW.
The energy consumption, annually, could be some 20.000 kWh.
All household energy, for ovens, warm water, etc. is included.
A gas heated house could have a much higher nominal power rating, but enegy consumtion would be about the same. Some recalculation needed.

Wil Pretty

I have a 60 yr old semi in UK with gas heating. . Boiler 17kW/hr. Gas usage annual, 8200 kWhr, electricity1900 kWhr.
[“semi” is a small, semi-detached apartment? (In the US, a “semi” is a very large, detactable tractor and its “semi-trailer” combination. ) .mod]

Wil Pretty

I have a 60 yr old semi in UK with gas heating. . Boiler 17kW/hr. Gas usage annual, 8200 kWhr, electricity1900 kWhr.

No air conditioning, right?
Is your “boiler” also a hot water source in the summer?
Is your “boiler” indoors – inside the heated walls of the house in both summer and winter?
Is your gas-fired “boiler” vented so (only) the combustion fumes are vented outdoors, and very little of the heated indoor non-combustion air?
(A wood fireplace, for example, vents an amazing mass of “heated” room air outdoors through the chimney opening. that used-be-be-heated room air (far more mass than the combustion air needed to burn the wood!) must be replaced (around the warm living room fireplace) by cold air coming from the bedrooms and kitchen and storerooms and basement, which in turn is replaced by outside very cold air coming via drafts through holes and gaps in the walls and around doors and windows. Thus, a Franklin stove sits in the middle of the room in front of a CLOSED fireplace opening, radiating warmth in all directions from its metal walls and top, but the Franklin stove has a closed door to its fire and a long tube surrounding the exhaust gasses. That long tube itself is a radiator and a convection source of heat, but it prevents the room air from getting sucked into the draft into the fireplace and up the chimney.)
Are your electric lights fluorescent or LED or incandescent?
How long is your heating season, and how long is the “heat” needed from the water-filled (?) radiators?
All of your radiator piping is inside the heated area, right? (None goers through an unheated crawl space or up and through an unheated attic? If any goes through the basement (crawl space) is that crawl space or basement competely vented, or it is trapping heat below the floors?
There is a method to the madness of my questions, but my answer to your single simple question about your single simple house of “How much electric power is needed to replace your gas heat?” depends on EVERY one of the answers.

Wil Pretty

Semi in UK is a semi-detatched house. On average 3 bed.
I drive 10000 miles per year, that works out at 11100 kWhr.
If I was all electric my electric use would be 11x current.

Wil Pretty

I would say the answer to most of your questions are – Yes.
Lighting is Fluorescent + LED
Air Conditioning is supplied by windows in the Summer.
Heating season normally Dec through April but December was very mild in UK this year.


“Boiler 17kW/hr”
W is a unit of power or if you prefer unit of energy over time
W/h means power over time or if you prefer energy over time over time, it’s a unit of variation of power or if you prefer variation of variation or energy

Wil Pretty

My fuel costs in UK are (/kWhr) Gas £0.044, Diesel £ 0.09, Electricity £0.134.
Current fuel costs are £1615 PA. Were I to be all electric at current prices it would cost me.£2834 PA


S P,
Excuse me, but you got that slightly incorrect.
Watts are power units. Power times time is equal to energy.
Power is sold in units of energy, or kilowatt-hours.
A kW-h is not power divided by time, but power times time.
So: Joules/second x seconds = joules, which is energy.
Energy/time x time = energy, the general case.

Patrick MJD

Yes, semi-detached, basically what looks like to be one house, is in fact two [dwellings], like a mirror reflection. Very common in the UK. The three basic structures in the UK are terraced, semi-detached and detached (Houses only, not apartments or units (Aus) or flats (UK)).
Semi-trailer (US) = Articulated lorry/truck (UK – HGV Class 3 if I recall correctly).


We call that a duplex here in the US.

A normal swedish residential house, with direct electrical heating, would seldom have more than 25A main fuses
Typical North American house has a 100A main, though many newer houses are installing 200A service to accommodate electrical heating. It can be a real problem to heat a North American house on 100A service.
The same problem likely exists in other countries. The houses were never designed for electric heating or electric cars. They quite simply do not have heavy enough wiring to take the additional load.
So while this all sound well and good in theory, as soon as you try and actually implement all electric, you find that you will need to rewire the whole country. An exercise that would require many decades at a minimum.

Mark Luhman

I find this funny somehow the person making this proposal does not understand electricity distribution has about a 95% delivery rate heat pumps are efficient in mild temperatures and a low temperatures you need direct heating which is accomplished by using the current to heat wire directly which is very inefficient. electrical heat in a cold climate is a very expensive and costly endeavor. Gas delivery is over 98 % efficient and does not suffer from the extreme cold problem. It can have problems if it distribution system is not robust enough for extreme cold but that only a design problem which electrical distribution system can also suffer from.


Mark, You ought to come over to Norway and tell people this – electric heating is normal here (in what I consider a cold climate) and the only alternative anyone building new houses talks about are ‘varmepumper’, which is to say air-conditioners.
…Because in winter, there is after all so much heat energy to be extracted from the frigid air outside.
Even though Norway is normally the second largest supplier of gas to western Europe, almost no one uses gas for domestic heating or hot water to exploit indigenously sourced gas.
The rationale for this is all that ‘free’ renewable energy coming from indigenously melting snow turning turbines at 1166 hydro-electric power stations of varying size (the renewable, carbon neutral energy that greens prefer not to talk about, because it’s what they spent the 1970s complaining about). Evidently electricity used to be cheap in Norway, so inefficiently heating one’s wooden house with a wall mounted electric radiator used to make sense and even as electrickery becomes more expensive, old habits die hard.
And domestic gas reticulation infrastructure is conspicuous by its absence.
So, this demented scheme for the UK to switch entirely over to the ‘lecky can be solved if they can find enough mountain watersheds to dam up and exploit. Or are people still thinking it’s sensible from an energy security viewpoint to erect solar farms in Algeria and Libya and run a big long flex up to Blighty?

Paul of Alexandria

Not to mention that while our electrical system is subject to storms, our gas never fails. If I install a gas-operated backup generator I could hold out in a power failure for weeks.


“our gas never fails”
Until the electric grid fails.

Patrick MJD

January 23, 2016 at 8:00 pm
Until the electric grid fails.”
Exactly! What pumps gas, these days, to houses? Electrically powered pumps! Gone are the days of the gas tower you used to see in the UK which used gravity to “pump” gas to local users.


The French greens (the political party Les Verts, the antinuclear associations under the umbrella of Sortir du nucléaire, all the future generation stuff… I can’t list them all and I forgot their names anyway) are STRONGLY anti-electric heating and pro combustion heating, in the name of reducing CO2 output.

Wil Pretty

17kW is its rated output. I am charged per kWhr so usage at 100% will be 17kWhr/hr.

Wil Pretty

17kW is its rated output. I am charged per kWhr so usage at 100% will be 17kWhr/hr.

Just to show how complex the entire nation’s “convert to wind-powered electricity and stop burning gas” problem actually becomes, let’s look at this simple little problem.
In your case, if this were a gas-fired water heater, you’d burn natural gas at a constant, efficient rate in a single burner when the water gets cold, then the burner stops when the water tank is hot enough. The tank refills with cold water, the average temperature goes down, the burner goes on again.
But your water heater is indoors, so ALL of the heat energy lost from the water tank stays IN the house heated area. No use of hot water, only parasitic losses occur (the tank does get colder slowly) and the gas seldom is needed. BUT! Every watt of “lost energy (from the water tank) IS USED in winter time as “extra heat” into the living space. Now, the only “wasted heat” is that chemically in the combustion gasses up and out the flue (hot CO2, hot water vapor as chemicals), and the thermal hot energy in the exhaust gasses (CO2 and water vapor) plus entrapped room air accidentally brought into the combustion chamber and not burned. 2% to 15% depending on how effective your setup is. So, 98% of the chemical energy of the natural gas entering the house IS USED to heat water directly or to heat the house through the water heater walls and pipes.
In summer, you have no air conditioning loads, so there is NO extra energy needed in the air conditioning system to counter the extra heat lost from the hot water pipes and water heater walls. In the US south, where AC is used, there IS an extra electrical load needed to cool the room air around a water heater!
Incadescent bulbs. Much of the power of an incandescent bulb IS direct resistance heat, and so every light bulb deposits ALL of its current as either light or heat INTO the room where it is running. In winter, in your house, this “heat loss” IS “100% efficient” at REDUCING your house heating bill. In summer, in YOUR case (but not in mine!) every light running is 15% efficient in generating light and 85% (or more) lost or wasted energy. In MY case where AC is needed mid April to mid-October, EVERY extra excess watt of heat from an incandescent bulb subtracts from a winter heating need and adds to a summer AC load.
So. Natural gas water heater in your case is some 95 – 98% efficient in heating water year round.
Now, how about electric power?
A lot depends on how you generate the electric power. All electric distribution (other than the very loooong distances needed for the distributed microscopic wind turbine generators) are about the same: 97 – 95% efficient over short distances, losing a lot of power over long distances. (In the UK, this is not as bad as the 45 – 65% losses for transmission grids longer than 1000 miles her in the US.)
An “average” nuke is 35-37% percent fuel efficient (electric power out/nuclear fuel in), because the thermal margins are lower and no superheated steam can be generated.)
An “average” fossil-fired coal plant is 43% – 47% fuel efficient (electric power out/fuel energy in), plus you have more “chemical energy” left in the masses of dust and ash – which does make very good concrete filler, by the way.
A direct drive single cycle gas turbine is also now about 45% efficient, older ones 40-42% since they were used lower pressures and could only be allowed lower temperatures across their turbine blades.
Multi-staged secondary cycle gas turbines (gas turbine exhaust heating steam recovery boilers running steam generators are 60-64% efficient. Not quite as large as nukes or fossil-fueled coal plants, these combiend cycle plants are the most efficient electric producers worldwide.
So, the electricity is produced – but only after losses of 35% to 65% of the fuel burned.
It is transmitted cross-country, inducing further losses of the already lower efficient energy.
It enters the house wall, and does the same thing as the gas being burned: No “extra” benefits of the electricity already being needed light or heating food or cooking food or cooling the refrigerated food or making ice or freezing food or sanitizing utensils or washing clothes even. Just heating water.
So if electricity is used to heat water, or to heat the house, ALL current loads are still needed 100% of the time, PLUS all of the “current” heating loads are added. At an energy burned cost of 1.53 TIMES the “heat load (1/.65 the fuel efficiency of combined cycle “best available) to 2.72 TIMES the heat load of an average nuke fuel efficiency!

Patrick MJD

Talking of incandescent bulbs. In the UK coloured bulbs, to create “mood lighting” have been banned. You can only buy the clear glass bulbs, I am sure they will be banned too (Apparently they consume less power. Must be almost impossible to detect). Also, because electricity is so expensive most houses will have cavity wall (Standard 9″ cavity brick wall), ceiling, under floor insulation as well as insulation on the hot water tank and any under floor pipes as well as double glazing. This has been common practice in the UK for many years. I remember fitting my parents hours with insulation in the 80’s. Matters not because power suppliers keep putting up prices, and with the Govn’t Climate Change Act in force, it’ll only get worse. I pity the elderly and poor.

Carlton Brown

Your calculation for the amount of KW needed to charge the electric cars is incorrect because you assumed that the car batteries are charged in one hour. Assuming an electric car uses 75 kw and can go about 200 miles at 75% load or 50mph(this is a guess), then it would use 56 KW for 4 hours or 225 KWH. 225KWH spread over 14 hours (the time required to recharge the batteries from 5PM to 7AM) would require about 16 KW. This is about 21% of the 75 KW figure in your calculation meaning that instead of the 2 TW of power required you would need .42 TW of power. Still a huge amount. This doesn’t demean your article but I don’t think it is necessary to play the lefts game of exaggeration to make our point.

would require about 16 KW
at 240 volts, this about 66.7 Amps!! There is almost nothing left to run your household! Really, has anyone thought this through!?

D. J. Hawkins

A slightly older US home has a 100 amp service which can supply 240 volts for a Level 2 charger which can supply up to 19.2 kW. This isn’t as much of a burden as you might think, since overnight your other electrical usage is likely to be low and a full charge state is achieved in 8 hours. US homes at least are notorious for having services WAY larger than they generally need. When I looked at a portable or fixed generator for emergency use, I realized that a 7.5 kW unit could provide everything I needed except for air conditioning.

Terry Bixler

Always remember it is your money they want to spend. It is your life they want to control. Pretty simple, vote these people out of office!

Terry Bixler,
Correctomundo. That’s at least a temporary answer. But the next leftist will carry on. “Two steps forward, one step back”. Speaking of “Forward!”…
President Obama is a sweet talker, but he lies like Hillary. Watch his actions instead. Does any of this look familiar:
How to create a social state by Saul Alinsky (summarized):
There are 8 levels of control that must be obtained before you are able to create a social state. The first is the most important.
1) Healthcare – Control healthcare and you control the people.
2) Poverty – Increase the Poverty level as high as possible, poor people are easier to control and will not fight back if you are providing everything for them to live.
3) Debt – Increase the debt to an unsustainable level. That way you are able to increase taxes, and this will produce more poverty.
4) Gun Control – Remove the ability to defend themselves from the Government. That way you are able to create a police state.
5) Welfare – Take control of every aspect of their lives (Food, Housing, and Income).
6) Education – Take control of what people read and listen to; take control of what children learn in school.
7) Religion – Remove the belief in the God from the Government and schools.
8) Class Warfare – Divide the people into the wealthy and the poor. This will cause more discontent and it will be easier to take from (Tax) the wealthy with the support of the poor.

Looks like 8 for 8, doesn’t it?


And several out of eight for the UK.
Maybe – mebbe – not 2, 5, and 6 – if, like your present writer – one wishes to be extraordinarily charitable to the ‘Ins’ of Cameron and his pals . . . .

Patrick MJD

January 23, 2016 at 12:50 pm
4) Gun Control – Remove the ability to defend themselves from the Government. That way you are able to create a police state.”
This is in effect in Australia, right now, thanks to little Johnny Howard in the 1990’s. And yet, there are more “ïllegal” guns in Australia than before. More home-made guns. There are more guns finding their entry through ports and airports in to Australia than before. There is more gun crime. Gun laws DO NOT stop criminals from committing gun related crimes. But they do exactly what you say, enable the creation of a police state where citizens cannot defend themselves from said state. And most people I discuss this matter with say “If you have not committed an offence/crime, you have nothing to worry about.” They seem to forget that freedoms and liberties are being systematically eroded to the point that no-one will be truly free from the state and state control. May as well move to North Korea then.

Retract this article while you can, because it is full of nonsense. This article lowers your credibility but more importantly the credibility of wattsupwiththat.com!!
1. Learn the difference between power (kW = Joule per second) and energy (kWh = 3600 Joule)
2. 70 kW for a household heater? Nonsense. Maybe 20-30 kW, tops. Which still says NOTHING about the actual energy used or average power consumed.
3. Are you seriously multiplying the rated power of an average car (75kW) with the amount of cars to determine the power needed to charge them all? Really? Would it not be a better idea to calculate the amount of energy needed per car per day (in kWh) and multiply that by the amount of cars, to come to the total energy needed, and then divide that by the time needed for charging them to give you an approximation of the power needed?
This article is an embarrasment, sorry to say.
Up your game and in the mean time remove this nonsense please

Alan Robertson

Articles don’t get retracted, here at WUWT. They stand or fall on their own merits. (Clearly noted corrections are allowed and encouraged, for mistakes.)

After reading back my comment I want to apologize for the harsh tone, which was not necessary.
And don’t misunderstand, I agree with the conclusion of the article. If the greens are really serious about all electric then they better get cracking on those new power stations.
But please re-do the numbers because they are so wrong that the very valid point of the article is lost completely.


This article is an embarrasment, sorry to say.
Indeed it is.
BUT I think these badly out of the mark calculations demonstrate brilliantly that WUWT is a science blog.
Your comment (January 23, 2016 at 10:31 am) is the 12th comment pointing out the serious errors in units and/or numbers, the overestimation, or the probable unit conversion errors.
Almost half commenting area is devoted to pointing out the errors in the article. More comment are posted showing that MANY readers saw the flaws.
This is what critical thinking is about. It shows the kind of crowd REAL science blogs get. People able to point out errors (and willing to check the math).
Fake science blogs (those often have “science” or “real” in the title) mostly (or only) get a crowd of fanboys and me-too-ers; people with critical thinking able and the will to check numbers are either blocked and banned (or leave in disgust).


totally agree with simple-touriste – let’s not shoot the messenger! – much better to offer constructive criticism and fair debate.


Spot on simple-touriste; and what’s more, I am yet to read a comment which does nothing other than spitefully cast aspersions upon the author’s (or another commenter’s) intellligence, parental heritage, source of income or testicular endowment.

Richard Barraclough

“Critical thinking” is a bit of a grandiose expression for pointing out obvious errors in a slapdash article – sorry a “Guest Essay”.


““Critical thinking” is a bit of a grandiose expression”
I agree, after posting I realize my words have be strong for this particular case. It is more a general remark about the dynamics of a forum: I notice that obvious or less obvious issues in posts are regularly pointed out in the comment section.
Contrary to the claims of “skeptical” or “real science” blogs, there is no censorship here, people are free to disagree, point out errors, and they do NOT get banned for doing so.
(And I am NOT making excuses for the LAME errors in this post.)


Retract this comment immediately !! LOL
[Were the mods to retract this comment, it would require extending the computer page to the left side of the screen unnecessarily, thus using up too many black pixels well before their predicted half-lives. And besides, we are nearly out of this hour’s white pixel limit. .mod]

Would it not be a better idea
Nope, because you are talking averages and power systems must always be designed for peaks. If everyone comes home at 5PM, plugs in the electric car, turns on the electric heat and starts up the electric stove, that is the reality you must deal with. And in a lot of cities, 5PM is about the time the sun starts going down and the power from your solar panels goes to zero, and as the sun goes down, so does the wind, so your demand peaks about the time you supply drops to zero, and the system will fail.

Patrick MJD

Don’t forget the spike in demand after EastEnders (I call it DeadEnders), Coronation Street and the likewise rubbish on TV (Can ya tell I hate these sorts of TV programs?) when people get up to make a cup of tea!

Bill Smith

>> 1. Learn the difference between power (kW = Joule per second) and energy (kWh = 3600 Joule)
1 kWh = 3,600,000 J or 3.6MJ

Correction: kW = kJ per second, kWh = 3600 kJ


Not to repeat the others figures but this article is quite inaccurate and needs to be pulled and redone.

Alan Robertson

Redone, yes. Pulled, no. There are several infamous sites (which deal with similar topics as WUWT,) which involve themselves in that game. They are consistently unreliable and lacking in veracity.


Incorrect statements need a <del> tag, not an erase pen.


..The climate has been changing for 4.5 BILLION years, but liberals are just noticing it now !! LOL

Such idiotic “suggestions” only begin to get into the public’s mind in the UK simply because the vast majority employed as reporters and editors in all sectors of the media, and as local Councillors, MP’s and even as Ministers, have just about the technical and scientific qualifications and associated technical and commercial expertise sufficient to be able to change a light bulb. Given even a little such basic knowledge, our elites, would have scoffed at such suggestions at the outset and the credibility of such proposals would never have gained roots, let alone survived and prospered.
Where would they get the electricity when there was no or low wind or sun? The answer is from Gas Turbines, the only power generation system that can act as the necessary WT and SP standby’s in such low/no wind and sun conditions to maintain overall power supplies to meet ongoing national Power Demands – as confirmed by independent experts commissioned by the Government to vet and check this Standby problem, and the only power system available that can provide, interface and match these renewables’ ongoing varying shortfalls in power output compared to their plate rated maximum output powercapacity. All this was confirmed by independent experts commissioned by the Government to vet and check this Renewables’ problem.
We get the obscene situation that we pay heavily for not only the WT’s and SP’s but also:
1. subsidies needed to make these grossly inefficient Renewable Energy systems commercially viable, and
2. the same capacity in Gas Turbines as back ups to cover for when the renewables produce little or no power at all due to no/low wind or sun.
3. the extended and upgraded Power Transmission works needed toconnect the relatively remote WT’s and SP’s with actual areas of Power Demand
4 and finally in subsidies to the GT power suppliers. The WT’s and SP’s act as priority choice of power whenever available and not when needed, and the GT’s act as standby’s operating on and off and with varying outputs well off their efficient operational duty point, and not as base load units. As a result such GT subsidies are needed because they, themselves, need them to maintain their commercial viability when operating so inefficiently.
Yet the powers that be, and our so called “betters” carry on and not simply condone this gross situation but actually support it!

expertise sufficient to be able to change a light bulb.
1 to hold the bulb, 4 to turn the ladder.


How many acres of wind and solar would this require? Also, the wind and solar decrease at night. How will all those electric cars be charged on a still dark night? Do these people even think about what they are doing?


Solar does decrease at night, and wind tends to as well, on average. But sun also diminishes seasonally, and with cloud cover. Up at that latitude, how much solar can one get, and is it available when demand is high?

even the tropics, the sun comes up at 6 and sets at 6. unless your panels are self-steerable you only have about 6 hours of power a day from solar panels.


even the tropics, the sun comes up at 6 and sets at 6. unless your panels are self-steerable you only have about 6 hours of power a day from solar panels.

You are correct (solar panels – self-steering better than rotating plate better than fixed angle plate better than flat plate – generate only 6 hours of real power a day …) almost regardless of the latitude.
Solar panel receive effective power only between 9:00 am and 3:00 pm on average, (8:30 to 3:30 in summer, 9:30 to 2:30 in winter at the mid latitudes) due to the absorbtion of the sun’s energy through the far thicker atmophere layers between dawn abd 9:00 am, and between 3:00 pm and dusk each evening. Regardless of tracking, these hours cannot be improved.
Tracking does generates more power away from local solar noon, between that 9:00 cut-in time and noon for example, at a tremendous increase in price, complexity, mechanical failures and drive failures and maintenance costs. It can, if the atmosphere through the year is very clear, extend the available hours earlier than 9:00 and later than 3:00 by reducing losses from the face of the receiver, but it can’t make up for the atmospheric attenuation itself.

empire sentry

I was working on the Bird Flu outbreak in the sticks of Minnesota. 11 massive wind generators spread across corn fields: two clearly broken and in some state of repair, 7 not turning and one was on fire.
The wind generator that was put in on Lake Erie outside of Cleveland was another waste. Brutal lake winter weather destroyed it. BUT….ten more are slated. Gotta love government contracting!!
They have to do something. 19 power plants were shut down and there is very little high energy available for manufacturing (auto and others).


We are going to do something. Elect a president who will immediately repeal the insane regulations put in place by this one, and end nonsensical subsidies for stuff that makes no sense or is not ready for prime time.
Open up drilling, issue new permits for nuclear plants of several modern designs, and get this country moving again.
Or so I be mightily hoping.

The real problem is everyone knows these targets are loopy – even if you for a deluded nanosecond believed in the cagw fairy tale – and consequently every state with two neurons to rub together plays the ‘yeah, yeah’ game while giving lip service only to the madness. The Brits on the other hand will maintain a stiff upper lip, keep a straight bat and play the jolly old game to the death while adding some more internal idiocy on top just to show how very seriously we’re all taking it unlike Johnny foreigner. One more reason to vote out of the Euro madhouse.

Patrick MJD

No-one in the UK ever voted to enter the common market (CM. As it was called then) anyway. Heath took the UK in to the CM in 1973 without a mandate at election time. I have always maintained this was a very bad mistake for the UK even before I could vote! For the UK now I think the EU is like a tic on the her neck! Difficult to remove once bitten!

Bruce Cobb

Warmunists don’t do math. Heck, they don’t even do science.


The watermelons do ‘Control’ – or would, if we, the people, let them . . . . . . .


Hi Philip,
The various corrections of heater rating are useful, but individual ratings are not important. If I were to turn on every electrical appliance in the house I would exceed the 100A supply rating, but of course this (almost) never happens. On the other hand, although a car need to produce maximum output power while driving, it can get recharged overnight so the peak input power is less.
What you are attempting to do I think is calculate the extra generating capacity needed if we were to replace all gas and transport fuel consumption with electricity.
What we need is the aggregate gas consumption for the UK and then express this as Power in GW.
You can then compare this with aggregate UK electricity demand, which peaks at about 60GW and averages about 34GW (source Wikipedia – yes, I know…).
Do the same for transport fuel, again estimating as GW (i.e. power, not energy as you want to find the extra generating capacity needed).
Probably you will only be able to get a peak daily consumption figure for gas, and maybe the same for transport fuel, so you’ll only be able to work out the average capacity.
A very worthwhile calculation though, which I haven’t see done, so look forward to an updated version of the post.
All the best 🙂


British voters have an opportunity to avert the disaster.
Let’s hope they use it – to BREXIT, for their sake.


Amen to that – vote OUT.


Given that the likely ‘re-negotiated’ terms involve one star on the Euro Blue Duster flag becoming red, white and blue – I will vote out.
If there is a real improvement – no time here for detail, but think sovereignty – I’d like to stay in.
Chances – don’t hold your breath.
Likely outcome – Brexit – but, then, better terms, and, perhaps, possibly, another vote – when a Brinagain is possible. But there will need to be serious changes – not just immigration, and some delay of in-work benefits but sovereignty, as noted.


The EU without Britain will collapse. It will, it’s just a matter of when. Without British funding – being the second (net) contributor – the money won’t be there for the craziness to continue.

Patrick MJD

I am going to have to talk to my olds (Parents – Yes I know I typed the word out as well) in the UK about this.


“Let’s hope they use it – to BREXIT, for their sake.”
Or keep the threat forever and reform Europe from the inside!

Steve from Rockwood

“The average household boiler is rated at 60 kilowatt”
My house has a 400 A panel at 110 VAC or 44 kW. A have a geothermal system with a 15 kW electric heater coil (for emergency conditions only) which is the single largest consumer of electricity. In a bad month my electric bill is $1,200 CAD or about $0.165 per kWh. This works out to an average of 10 kW and I use a lot of electricity.
My feeling is this article over-estimates electricity use by 4-10 times. Having said that the numbers still work out to about 25 Drax-sized power stations and over 100,000 wind turbines. Still seems unfeasible.

$1200 CAD per month? where do you live on the South Pole? Our worst electrical bill was $110 CAD add in $100 CAD/ month for oil heat so our heating and electrical is $210 CAD/ month and in summer it drops to $75 CAD/Mo.
[CAD = Canadian dollar? .mod]


Assuming Rockwood Ontario,
Note the “global adjustment” price. (green scheme subsidies)


A cad is an officer, who, when dispatched to tell a brother officer’s wife of his death, will certainly seek to – ah – console the widow.
A Bounder, of course, will shower first . . . . . .
Or is it the other way round?
Auto [Off thread!]


CAD = Canadian dollars yes ( pennies lately _ !! )

Steve from Rockwood

In a bad month my electric bill is $1,200 Canadian dollars in a month. That would be January and February. In the summer it slips to about $450. My point was, I use more electricity than anyone else I know. I have two houses and a business on one property, all with a single meter. My house has 44 kW capacity of which, in the worst month of the year, I use an average of 10 kW. So how can the average British home use 60 kW? I think the article over-estimates power use in Britain by 4-10 times.


As an ex gas fired domestic central heating bod, I would suggest the average rating of the vast majority of UK houses would be in the range 6 to 10kW for central heating useage. ( Noting combi boiler ratings are typically 24 to 35kW – but that much is only available to be used when heating potable water ). With the 2005 mandate for replacement/new boilers to be of the condensing type, the quantity of ‘surplus’ heat that is available for re-direction for electricity generation is negligible, ie, Combined heat and power generation is no longer credible.
Still a lot of windmills to erect though !

As usual, you are all ignoring the new fire LENR. Industrial Heat’s 1 MW LENR plant has now been running successfully for eleven months supplying steam to a real customer. The trial duration is 350 days. The trial report is expected Feb/Mar.
Technical reporter Mats Lewan has made a 1 hour webinar that covers the basics, followed by some interesting Q&A. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQ3S3YMH96s&feature=youtu.be

R Shearer

LOL, Rossi’s is always seen wearing a coat during testing because of the cold. The claim of heat generation is obviously an exaggeration.

R Shearer
You are only a few years out of date. All the new work is in Florida.
As you think you know it all already I assume you didn’t actually view the video before making a troll comment.

Rab McDowell

I agree with wijnand2015 and others that this article is nonsense and detracts from the credibility of WUWT.
Should it be removed?. No, that would be adjusting after the act, something that WUWT followers have been critical of at other sites.
Should it have been peer reviewed? Now there’s a thought. No, again that process has been found wanting too many times.
Should it be flagged as low quality and / or unsupported? Definitely.


Rab, it is being reviewed. Right here, right now.
We await your calculations to correct the article.

Rab McDowell

Should it have been peer reviewed? Now there’s a thought. No, again that process has been found wanting too many times.
Should it be flagged as low quality and / or unsupported? Definitely.

No, it is NOW being very thoroughly peer-reviewed!
And, through that (public) peer-review by interested critical observers – not all of whom agree with each other much less the original author! – all are educated even more effectively that a single dry, “yeah I read that” monologue drearily read by uninterested readers ….

Rab McDowell

When I asked “should it have been peer reviewed” I was thinking of a review for acceptability and accuraccy before publication as per “scientific” journals.
After I pushed send it dawned on me that it was being peer reviewed in the best possible way.
I just hope that those who read the article and, on that basis form an opinion of WUWT credibility, also read the comment section.
[Reply: When they invent a 28 hour day we’ll add peer review before publication to our ‘to do’ list. ~mod]

Patrick MJD

“[Reply: When they invent a 28 hour day we’ll add peer review before publication to our ‘to do’ list. ~mod]”
On July 26th 2012, one of my “days” lasted about 144hrs without a proper break. Thanks Daniel! Destroyed my life!

Crispin in Waterloo

“Here’s the math(s):
“16 × 106 × 60 kW = 96 × 107 =~ 100 × 107 = 109 kW = 106 MegaW = 103 GigaW
or about 1 TeraW of extra power.”
There is a fundamental problem with the approach taken to arrive at this figure.
I note that when calculating the output of windmills, you have (quite rightly) factored their contribution downwards from their potential output maximum because they do not put out, on average, their maximum rating.
In exactly the same way, the gas heaters are not all running at full capacity at exactly the same time. Thus the ‘service factor’ that has been applied to the windmills must equally be applied to the demand side of the equation. Further, electric heating systems often use thermal storage so as to run at convenient times, controlled remotely by the service provider. This significantly reduces the minimum required generating capacity – I believe by a factor of more than 2.
The actual total time that the gas heaters run at full power is, say, 20%. This reduces considerably the total installed generating power and the total output required, on balance, without invoking thermal storage as is done in many countries using electric ‘geysers’ (water heaters). This does not in any way refute the major points in the article, but it does reduce by a factor of at least 5 all the investment and expenses required.
As the gas will inevitably peter out to a much smaller sustained supply level (and carry on indefinitely because it is an abiotic fuel produced at depths >30 km) electricity will eventually replace most gas installations, this century or next or the one after.
Your major points about the foolishness of planning to turn off the gas as soon as possible are accepted. It is justifying destructive, even criminal, means by touting a badly misinformed ‘end’.
“…the end does not serve to justify the means. However constructive and noble the goal, however significant to one’s life or to the welfare of one’s family, it must not be attained through improper means. Regrettably, a number of today’s leaders—political, social, and religious—as well as some of the directors of financial markets, executives of multinational corporations, chiefs of commerce and industry, and ordinary people who succumb to social pressure and ignore the call of their conscience, act against this principle; they justify any means in order to achieve their goals.” – UHJ 2 April 2010

Alan Robertson

“…(and carry on indefinitely because it is an abiotic fuel produced at depths >30 km)…”
“Your major points about the foolishness of planning to turn off the gas as soon as possible are accepted. It is justifying destructive, even criminal, means by touting a badly misinformed ‘end’.”
Thanks, Crispin and especially for your quote at the end. The cryptic attribution to “UHJ” prompted a search and delivered the “Universal House of Justice”. Never too old to learn.

Crispin in Waterloo

Further to the comment above about the service factor of the heating appliances, the conversion from gasoline to electric cars will also need to introduce a service factor for the prime mover. We can easily predict that computer controlled driving will soon be upon us with large increases in system efficiency as we will not spend so much time in stop-and-go traffic. They also have regenerator brakes which adds to the system efficiency.
Electric cars do not idle their motors when sitting still. While it can be argued they might all accelerate at maximum power at the same time, they will be using batteries when they do so it won’t change the service factor. In terms of energy use, electric cars are very efficient. They also cost a fraction of an IC-engined car to maintain. The problem is generating and distribution the electricity in the first place. Quite frankly it is easier and safer to distribute electricity than liquid fuels.
What makes a lot of sense is to use coal to make town gas and supply it to homes in place of natural gas, should it run out. There is probably a lot more coal gas potential than natural gas potential and the sources are more concentrated. The gas can be de-sulphurised and dried before entering the system. It has a bright future.


But electric cars do not enjoy the free heating from waste heat either.
Also, don’t forget the energy lost in the battery.


Further to simple-touriste’s comments, I note that electric cars are, with present technology, susceptible to low-temperature effects, reducing the available ‘juice’.
And, in the cool, the humans inside will seek some heating; this will not be from waste heat, I understand.
Wrapping up in several layers will help, but a change in behaviour from that usual today.


Perhaps that why electric cars seem like a good idea in California.
But uptake in Alaska has not been so enthusiastic.,.


Florida seems like a good bet as well.
But does not draining and recharging these batteries tend to heat them?
I know my phone gets hot when usage is high.


“Florida seems like a good bet as well.”
Until you get stuck in a jam and A/C drains the battery.


How much power does the A/C in an electric car use when you are sitting in a traffic jam and the temperature is pushing 42C? Not everybody lives in that icebox moored off the coast of France.


I think they operate on the fact that most trips by most people, most of the time, are much less than the range of the vehicle.
For long trips, or the absent minded type, these cars are not a good bet.

Brian H

Not much. Trivial compared to the load while driving at speed (i.e., most of the time).

Brian H

Au Contraire. Owners do at least as much road tripping as ‘before’, due to comfort and cost.


Brian, but only where chargers are located?
Or you do not mind stopping for several hours every…what is it…two hundred miles? And hope you have a place to plug in?

I liked this article. I admired the astute comments. Corrections with a positive attitude are helpful.
For me, however, the key point remains – replacing gas with electric heat on a massive scale is insanity.


Only a liberal idiot could think that chopping down American trees to ship to the U.K. to be BURNED to create electricity is GOOD for the planet !! NUTS !


Must be plenty of liberal idiots. This was approved.

For all the reasons quoted above.


True dat!

Adam from Kansas

I found this article interesting in that it tries to paint the idea of electric heating as a bad thing, but here’s the thing.
The idea of electrical heating is nothing new, in fact my grandmother has lived in a home that had this since the 1970’s. The way it works is that such a house has metal coils behind the walls and the heat radiates through the walls into the house.
Now believe it or not, there is a clear advantage to this system and that is how it allows you to control the temperature on a per-room basis as opposed to a single thermostat for the entire house. My grandparents simply turn off the heating for rooms they rarely use and they can actually save money that way.
So in a sense, I don’t see why we should flat out reject any concept of heating a home that doesn’t involve a gas furnace, whether or not the alternative is electric or some future technology not developed yet,


“My grandparents simply turn off the heating for rooms they rarely use and they can actually save money that way.”
Surely you are joking.
My grand parents turned off the heating of many rooms, and they didn’t have electric heating.


Every place I have ever lived had either radiators, which have valves in the intake side, or louvered vents, which have louvers that can be adjusted, from full open to closed or anywhere in between. And I am not sure, but suspect that what they had was baseboard heaters, which are not in the walls, but along the bottom of the floor around the edges of rooms.
Putting heat in the walls would ensure much of it is wasted, and that it would take a very long time to adjust the temp in a room, or to get any heat when walking into a cold room. Modern in the floor systems are a different story, as the floors are within the living space, although such radiant heat systems do take somewhat longer to warm a room, depending on the flooring material.

A question that keeps coming up is how are we going to produce all the components we use in every day live like plastics and many other products that are now using oil and gas? If Norway and others shut off their oil fields where will these products come from? This looks like insanity to me and is unacceptable, we need some sanity and logic back into our governments ASAP.


“produce all the components we use in every day live like plastics”
From potatoes?

Patrick MJD

There has to be research grant potential in that. Potatoes suck up CO2, then we make plakky bags! We could even call them “spags”, bags made from spuds. Simples!


Tobias, relax old son.
Norway isn’t about to shut down any producing oil or gas fields that are still viable, indeed a number of large field developments are underway right now (Johan Sverdrup, Aasta Hansteen, Edvard Greig, Goliat, Ivar Aasen and Johan Castberg spring immediately to mind).
One would assume that other countries whose economies depend upon oil and gas export aren’t going to stop anytime soon. Even if they ‘talk the talk’ on gullible warming.
The CEOs of European oil companies who signed that petition claiming to support efforts to fight gullible warming weren’t acting out of any concern for reducing hot-air emissions and saving the children’s children; they can see a nothing-to-lose business case for replacing coal in electricty generation if the market for power station fuel is manipulated by bureaucrats foisting gullible warming policy on everyone. That’s why they’re so adament that a price on carbon (dioxide) is the magic wand to a 2C future; it won’t change anything other than how much gas Europe needs to buy and burn to generate the electricity it needs.
And if Blighty among others if consulting the pixies over energy policy and plans to switch domestic heating/cooking/hot water from burning the gas directly in one’s home to less effiently burning the gas in a power station to boil water, to spin a turbine, to drive a generator, to push electrons along a wire, to heat a resistor, to warm the air/food/water in a house, with all the losses that occur at each step,then those CEOs are up for an even bigger performance bonus. Which is why with all the cost cutting in the oil industry, those CEOs and the talking heads in their companies’ respective gullible warming and tree hugging departments could all afford a business trip to Paris to gas-bag with the assembled UN,Governmental, NGO and lame-stream media twatteratti.
The brakes are on investment in oil and gas for now because the return on investment is low, especially now that the price of oil is back down from the heady heights north of 100$/bbl to where is normally is (in real terms). As usual though, ‘the patch’ is inadvertently sowing the seeds of the next price hike by postponing investment in reserve replacement and laying off a lot of the experienced people who will be needed to restore production in a few years.
But even if oil producing countries lost the collective plot and agreed tofu and ganja are the trading commodities of tomorrow, one can find other ways to make plastic. Or indeed, one can find other materials to use in-lieu of plastic; humanity survived without it in the past.


It might make sense, if one took a very long view, to hold back on production at the present time due to low prices, and hold reserves for the time when prices might be supposed to be higher. Now is the time to put in large strategic reserves of crude, if one was to be all logic-y about things.


In fact prices are below production costs for many marginal producers such as, as far as I have been told, Canadian oil sands. Some places have very low production costs, such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, due to shallow reserves that are under high pressure and in accessible areas, and some are much higher, like the above, and places like offshore deep-water sites, places where secondary and tertiary recovery techniques are in use, and places, I would imagine, that the oil is very deep, not under any pressure, is very viscous, or is in some place like interior Siberia.

OK, so the numbers are out by a factor of ?4?. So the UK needs only a few hundred thousand more wind turbines. That means they will also need a vast array of batteries to provide power on still days, or they will have to have a similar amount of backup power. At current and foreseeable technology, those backup batteries would be prohitively expensive, so backup power will be needed. The only possible economically viable non-fossil-fuel source for that extra backup power is nuclear. But if they build the nuclear, there is no need for the wind power.
OK, let’s start the logic again : All the UK’s future energy needs can be supplied using nuclear power. There is plenty of nuclear fuel for this, even if everyone else switches to nuclear. So the UK can forget about wind turbines and just go straight to nuclear power.
All very logical, yes? Well, sorry to disappoint, but no. If the UK is intelligent enough to recognise that nuclear power is a way better option than wind turbines, then surely they would be intelligent enough to recognise that there is no need to move away from fossil fuels in the first place. In other words, the careful logic that I started with is all based on the false premise that the UK needs to “de-carbonise”.


French antinuclear opinion on electric heating:
– it’s too expensive for the poor
– it’s too cheap
– it’s inefficient
– it’s CO2 emitting
– it’s the only justification for half of the nuclear power plants
– it’s a waste of energy
I am NOT making this up.
I am NOT conflating different groups or different POV.
This is a consensus. It’s too cheap AND too costly. It’s nuclear and non-nuclear. They think they can have it both ways (and they can because nobody in the media is asking them about what they really believe about energy).
Electric heating is their arch enemy, equal to atomic power (conflating fission and fusion). This is because EDF promoted electric heating.


Same thing every over. They are against everything.
Fools, or crazy, mixed up, or just wanting all technology to go away…they need to be given as much attention as they deserve in our heavily energy dependent world.
Which is to say, given none at all.
I suspect something very bad will have to happen that harms or kills a large number of people in a sudden and obvious way, before they will be seen for what they are by the MSM and the general low information public.


You assume the objective [is to] supply reliable power when we know that the clearly stated objective is to destroy democracy and capitalism and to take us back to the dark age


This article is a mess.
All the domestic gas boilers in the U.K. do not run simultaneously.
And certainly, all the cars in the UK are not driven at maximum power on a continual basis.
The rating of a device can not be simply multiplied up in order to establish how much power a large number of such devices would need. Not unless all such devices are on at maximum capacity for all of the time.
And they are clearly not.
Peak use is considerably less than what would occur if all devices were turned on all of the time, obviously.
Mainly because people find it hard to simultaneously use their shower, hairdryer, iron and toaster.
This principle is also true when determining the amount of energy that is delivered over time by a generating plant or renewable source.
Effectively the same mistake is often made by renewables promoters who casually multiply up the nameplate capacity for turbines or solar plants.
You cannot reasonably do that – the result is not meaningful.
We shouldn’t be indulging in such pisspoor abuse of engineering concepts here.
The fact that this article made it onto WUWT in this form is a bit of a let down.

James Francisco

Indeflatablefrog. The article may have been a let down to you but it was a real eye-opener to me. It let me know which commentors know their stuff and which ones that just want to show off their math skills. You did the best by far in explaining the many errors in the article and you did it without any math symbols. Thanks so much. You made my week.


Your judgement of other people’s technical knowledge and your apparent amateur psychologist assessment of commenters’ motives are very suspect.
The “math symbols” you refer to are “digits” and are introduced to children in kindergarten.
Also, if the indefatigablefrog provided you so much satisfaction, should you not try to write his name more accurately? The orthographic symbols that you played fast and loose with are called “letters”.


Thanks Mebbe, you made my month!

James Francisco

Mebbe. Apparently you are one of the people I was referring to because I noticed you did not comment on the technical accuracy of the article. You must be a trained phychologist because you are probably right about my sensitivity toward mathematicians. I have spent a lifetime fixing the electromechanical and instrument systems of aircraft. Much of that lifetime my abilities were judged by people with college degrees who did not have a clue about basic physics, electronics and my job. I have met many people who bragged about their degrees in mathmatics, when I asked them how to calculate the blade tip speed of the helicopter they were working on, all I got was blank stares, except for one Chinese fellow. It has scarred me for life. Please excuse my misuse of orthographic symbols. I was trying to console indifatigablefrog.
I read many of articles and comments on this blog because I want to be sure about my understanding of global warming. Many of the topics that I read are discussing things I don’t understand so I must try to figure out who to believe when people contradict each other. When the discussion turns to an area that I do understand I can then determine from the comments who knows what they (the commentors) are talking about. The article by Mr Foster was a good example of someone with possibly good math skills but applying them to something he has just enough understanding of to be dangerous. I do think that just because someone is knowledgeable in one area that they should not be trusted in another. This topic was basic electricity and physics. If you don’t get that right why would you trust anyone with the much greater complexity of the physics of climate science. Many on this thread did not notice the large errors of Mr Foster’s article and instead jumped on the bandwagon.
I was hoping my remark would cause some commentors who really don’t know the technicalities of a topic to not jump in with technical comments. Humor is always welcome.
The math symbols I was referring to were things like +,×,÷,=,% . I didn’t go to kindergarten but I did learn what a digit is. When I said symbols I ment symbols. Did you learn anything about electricity in kindergarten or anywhere else? If you did then give us your evaluation of this article and try not to use big words like orthographic.