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 http://www.pcc15.org

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

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

  1. 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.

    • HR
      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!


    • 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.

      • 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.

  2. “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.

      • 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.

    • 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.

  3. 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.

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

      • 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.)

    • 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.

    • 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

      • 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.

      • 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

      • 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.

      • Richard,
        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.”

  4. 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!

    • Listenin’ to: John Lee Hooker- “Serve You Right To Suffer”

      (I watched it- being easily amused + Winter sloth)

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

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

    • 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.

  8. 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.

      • 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.

      • Mencholas
        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.

      • Menicholas,
        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.

  9. 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!

    • Bloke
      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.


  10. 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.

    • 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.

  11. 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?

  12. 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

  13. 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.

      • 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.

  14. “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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

      • RACookPE1978

        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

      • 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.

      • 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).

    • 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.

  19. 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?

    • 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.

      • “simple-touriste

        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.

  20. 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.

        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!

      • 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.

  21. 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!?

      • 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.

  22. 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?

      • db
        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 . . . .


      • “dbstealey

        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.

  23. 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

    • 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.

      • “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.

      • 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!

    • >> 1. Learn the difference between power (kW = Joule per second) and energy (kWh = 3600 Joule)

      1 kWh = 3,600,000 J or 3.6MJ

    • 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.

  24. 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!

  25. 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.

      • ferdberple

        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.

    • 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.

  26. 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.

    • 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!

  27. 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 :-)

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

      • Baz,
        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.

    • 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!

  29. “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]

      • Mod
        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!]

      • 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.

  30. 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 !

    • 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.

  31. 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 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 ….

      • 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]

      • “[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!

  32. “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

    • “…(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.

  33. 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.

      • Menicholas;
        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?

  34. 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.

  35. 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.

  36. 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.

      • 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.

  37. 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”.

  38. 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.

  39. 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

  40. 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.

    • 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.

      • James,

        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”.

      • 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.

  41. The estimate of the number of households with gas-fired central heating is too low. As of 2009, the number was around 23 million according to the graph on page 47 here :https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/345141/uk_housing_fact_file_2013.pdf

    Presumably, all or the vast majority are connected to the grid.

    Also to be taken into account when going all electric are commercial premises heated by gas central heating. No idea how many of those there are.

  42. First let me say that I think the proposal to convert gas heating to electrical heating is stupid. Electrical resistance heating is very inefficient (that’s why it produces heat). That said, as was pointed out by a number of commenters above, the approach used in the posted article is not correct. It confuses energy and power.

    Because the approach was incorrect, I suspect (but I haven’t done the math(s)) that the conclusions are wrong also. The necessary natural gas for heating is available, the gasoline (I believe it’s petrol in the UK) for vehicles is available, thus the total energy in these fuels is within the ability of the UK to supply. If these fuels were used produce electricity, then the electrical energy would be within the ability of the UK to supply.

    I think a more direct way to determine how much electrical energy is required, is to obtain the total gas and petrol usage in the UK for a year. Those figures should be available from some government department. They are (or were years ago when I used them) in the US. Then multiply by the BTU content of a unit of each fuel to get the total BTUs the fuel consumption represents. Then convert to electrical units. Note that BTUs convert to Kw-hrs. If you want to present that as the number of electrical generating plants of a certain size that are required, divide by the number of hours in a year and the size of the plant. Of course more a accurate estimate could be obtained by accounting for peak demand and inefficiency of electrical heating.

    • There are many inefficiencies of burning fuel to make electricity, transporting this power to customers, and then reconverting to heat.
      Every step has thermodynamic losses, plus other factors than ensure much energy is completely wasted by using this plan.
      But you likely know that. Just sayin’.

    • ” Electrical resistance heating is very inefficient (that’s why it produces heat).”

      Care to explain?

      • Energy efficiency must really depend on one’s perspective.
        From here, it looks like The Blob sends clouds to the hills, where they fall as raindrops, collecting behind a pile of re-manufactured rocks fortuitously piled by kindly neighbours. Then, the water flows through a pipe and a glorified Pelton wheel, turns a magnet and I get free heat in my house.
        Then some bandits send me an invoice just because they can.

      • Just guessing, but perhaps this refers to the losses that occur by heating up ductwork and other parts that are not within the living space.

  43. If the UK thinks that it can power itself with solar power and wind power, then much more money needs to be poured into the teaching of mathematics and computer spread sheet abilities.

    • In the UK, the Govn’t has mandated a special plan for industry to save energy. A return to 1970’s style 3 day working weeks, while at the same time exporting industry to countries like India (Steel and Tata for instance). Seriously! I think rolling brown and black outs in the UK during the 70’s will pale in comparison to what is going to happen. Then maybe, just maybe, someone like Guy Fawkes might succeed. Nah! Coronation street will be on TV then.

  44. I live alone in a two bedroom apartment in the UK. It has no gas supply, only electricity. My annual electrical consumption is 5000 kWh. Multiplying my consumption by the population of the UK results in an average of about 35 to 40 GW on average national electricity consumption, not very different from current usage. In other words, changing from domestic gas isn’t likely to make a significant difference to the electrical consumption of the country, certainly not the 25 fold increase suggested by this article which says a Terawatt would be needed if domestic gas were abandoned.

    Fortunately my cooker is switched off most of the time, and my boiler has a thermostat.

    • “changing from domestic gas isn’t likely to make a significant difference to the electrical consumption of the country”


      Obviously it will. It isn’t “likely”, it’s a certainty.

      Unless you define “significant difference” as “several orders of magnitude increase”, of course. Then NOTHING will be “make a significant difference”.

      (Unless the price increase creates a major crisis, or a civil war, mass starvation and death, etc. Then it will be a significant decrease.)

      • It’s “1 TeraW” that’s preposterous.
        A domestic gas supply isn’t necessary. My apartment was built without one decades ago.
        The gas could be used for electricity generation. It’s preposterous to suggest a TW is required, when total UK electricity consumption now averages a few tens of GW.

    • deklein – It definitely is preposterous to suggest that “changing from domestic gas isn’t likely to make a significant difference to the electrical consumption of the country”.

      Over the last 5 years, I, in my 3-bed semi (with cavity wall insulation, much roof insulation and double glazed windows throughout) have consumed 12155 kWh of electricity and 52977 kWh of gas. That means that my electricity consumption would go up by 536% if electric heating and cooking were equally efficient as my current gas appliance (I use a Rayburn “range” which cooks and drives the radiators and hot water). Now I accept that getting the gas to my house does consume electricity – all the pumps in the transmission system don’t drive themselves) but it is still the case that there is a significant increase in electricity generation required to replace all gas appliances for 23million domestic gas consumers with electric equivalents.

      I’m not disputing that the maths in the original article may well be suspect – smarter people than I have already pointed out some egregious errors – but the basic premise is correct; there will have to be a huge increase in electricity generation in the UK if all gas consumption were to be outlawed.

      • Perhaps I should have used a word other than “significant”. I’d guess no more than doubling domestic electricity needs by abolishing domestic gas, still well short of 100 GW on average. A few new power stations should do the trick, but we are not allowed the kind China and India are building. Whether it should be done is another matter. I personally am not as attached to domestic gas as some people.
        I suspect domestic gas might be anachronistic. Gas distribution began with town gas, before the era of large efficient coal fired power stations brought down the price and increased the availability of electricity. I personally do quite well without it.

      • deklein – I fear you still don’t get it. To replace my gas consumption will need a 5-fold increase in electricity use. If this is even a vague approximation of the average for all 23 million domestic gas users, I fail to see how this can be done merely by doubling electricity generation.

        In addition, in support of your notion that domestic gas may be anachronistic, you pray in aid the cost of electricity. Your idea will only have a degree of credibility when the costs are equal. The way things are going, of course, that won’t be any time soon. My current charges per kWh for electricity and gas are 11.2p and 3.425p. Large efficient coal fired power stations may have reduced the price of electricity but it’s still 3 times the price of gas. What’s more, the destruction of the very coal fired power stations you are using in your argument essentially negates any credibility the argument may once have had.

        Abolishing domestic gas will not affect you in the slightest. However, you are somewhat outnumbered by the 23 million gas consumers and their families. Any government which tried to do what you are advocating would, quite rightly, be destroyed.

  45. Numbers from New York State: 2013 residential consumption of natural gas (mostly home heating but also hot water) was 416.2 billion cubic feet of gas. That converts to 121,980 GWh of electricity without accounting for any of the issues with efficiency loss and transmission loss. If the State decides to generate that power using wind energy (without correcting for the storage needed because the seasonal peaks in wind and heat needed are different) they only need to increase the existing wind capacity by 30 times. Alternatively you would need to nearly triple the nuclear generation.

    • And you know the answer. It will be wind. Even fracking has been banned in New York State. Nuclear? No way.

      • Then we just wait for the ice storm that destroys all the windmills at the same time as power demand is at a maximum.
        And what about when you do account for all of the real world costs and losses?

  46. For me, this season’s “snowmeggedon” is over. But people are still without electricity. I’m glad I have natural gas and gas logs. Even when the power is out, I stay warm. While electricity is more reliable than ever, it is not on 100%. What happens if we go 100% electric but lose our electricity in the middle of a blizzard? Be prepared for a lot of frozen bodies.

    For anyone who says we should not heat our homes with some kind of fuel, I challenge them to live 2 days — just 2 days — without electricity during a nor’easter. I guarantee that they will come out of the experience with a different outlook.

    • Yup. And gas is better than fuel oil because it comes through pipes, rather than having to be delivered.
      I recall one nasty storm in the 1970’s when our fuel oil tank ran out on a Friday evening, when roads were impassible, and the temp was in the low teens to below zero for the weekend.
      Bad scene, man, even in the downtown of a large city.

    • People should have a generator with enough fuel to get them through at least a week. You can buy a very good gasoline powered electric generator that puts out 7 kW for around $600 – $700. Many of them can also run on natgas or propane.

      I have one, along with a dozen 5-gallon plastic gas cans. I use an additive to make sure the gas doesn’t go bad. I rotate the gasoline supply. After 3 years I just use it in my car, and refill the can with fresh fuel.

      Except to test the generator, I’ve never had to use it. But sooner or later something will take down the grid.

      • DB, a good idea to be sure.
        We here in Florida learned the hard way all the things that can go wrong, even with a portable generator and multiple gas cans.
        One is that we need AC here more than just about anything…very hard to sleep or do anything when one is sweating uncontrollably, and these are just not able to power an AC unit. For that you need a on demand whole house unit with installed transfer switch.
        The next thing we found out the hard way is how fast a can of gas goes with one of those generators…in a few hours of continuous use…you need several per day…most cannot be throttled down efficiently, so they just waste whatever is not being used.
        Then we found out that the gas stations had no power, and you need power to pump gas out of the underground tanks…so it was impossible to get more gas…total bummer. And the few places that had generators were mobbed and quickly ran out. (Laws were passed after 2004/2005 disaster years to force all gas stations to install back up generators. They squawked, but had to comply. We have not had a hurricane since. But the big problem may be getting deliveries…the same event that causes power to go out in a region for extended periods usually blocks roads too, although not for as long.)
        Then we found out that since you cannot bring these things inside, or even leave them in a garage, they were prone to being stolen, since no one had power and there were lots of people who were very jealous of anyone that had a generator. They make so much noise that everyone can tell who has one from a block away.

        Anyway, I could go on…it was messed up to learn all of this the hard way. Preparedness minded folks decided to get whole house units and a big propane tank. This is what I have in mind doing. The house I almost moved into instead of this one had such a set up, installed at great expense after the 2005 season, and never used! But it is only a matter of time. Boy was having no power miserable, nothing to do, no where to go, and more ‘canes were coming so we could not even take the boards off the windows to let some air in.
        I went with the house with automatic roll up euroshutters, and the fruit trees. Getting a Generac with a propane tank…but piped in nat gas would be better.

        Life is such a struggle!

  47. The Climate Change Act has an escape clause that will almost certainly be used. Nothing is binding… “if it appears to the Secretary of State that there have been significant developments in scientific knowledge about climate change”.

    • Robin, I fear that you grossly over-estimate the intelligence of the average Secretary of State. Just look at the recent past.

      Ed Milliband (author of said Act);
      The corrupt and criminal Chris Huhne;
      Ed Davey; and
      Amber Rudd (the current incumbent).

      The above mentioned come from 3 different political parties which just shows that stupidity knows no political boundaries.

  48. I think the numbers may be under estimated. I checked the official number on the internet as any skeptic should.
    The average mileage for UK cars is 7000 miles, or about 20 miles per day. The UK has about 35 million vehicles on UK roads. If you assume that these are all require 30 kWh for 172 km (107 miles) on a full battery charge (Nissan Leaf). Then 35 million vehicles will require charging 6kWh mainly overnight. No one in the UK is going to leave home without a fully charged battery if they can help it.

    Taking gas for heating and cooking, in the East Midlands during the last three months the average gas consumption was 3357 kWh (British Gas). The East Midlands has had a particularly mild winter up to the end of December. The annual average UK household gas usage is said to be 16,500 kWh (Ofgem) same source for electricity 3,300 kWh. The six coldest months of the year October – March will use 75% of the total. There were 27.0 million households in the UK in 2015, so 16 million using gas for heating is about 60% which seems a touch on the low side.

  49. TW is a unit of capacity. TWh is a unit of energy. Switching from gas and petrol to electricity is primarily an energy problem because of load diversity and the ease of integrating demand response capabilities into EVs. Electric sector production would have to increase, but this is primarily a matter of just running your fleet more. The capacity impact is likely to be fairly small.

    Replace the coal fleet with nuclear and the cost of CO2 reduction would be manageable. Try to do it with wind and solar and it’ll be quite expensive.

  50. Then 35 million vehicles will require charging 6kWh mainly overnight.
    16,500 kWh (Ofgem) same source for electricity 3,300 kWh
    There were 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 = 16.6 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.

    If fact, it is quite easy to say that it is impossible for the UK to install 18.3 times the current electrical capacity over the next 100 years without a technology breakthrough.

  51. The cost of CO2 reduction should be 0, as it is utterly unnecessary. All such expenditures are waste or counter-productive.

    • But reducing carbon dependency might be worthwhile, because some carbon molecule occur more often in some regions.

      The sellers of energy rich carbon molecules aren’t often politically neutral. This isn’t just a religious issue.

      • We don’t need to reduce CO2 output, but doing so would be fabulous for the nuclear industry you adore. And so any excuse will do.
        Hydrocarbons, for example, aren’t egalitarian like uranium….

        “But reducing carbon dependency might be worthwhile, because some carbon molecule occur more often in some regions.
        The sellers of energy rich carbon molecules aren’t often politically neutral. This isn’t just a religious issue.”

        But actually, France has no known uranium reserves, while my non-nuclear country Australia, with 31% of known reserves, has more than any other country on the planet by a huge margin:

        Kazakhstan and Canada come in 2nd and 3rd place with 12% and 9%. Most countries, as with France, have none, and would therefore have to rely on foreigners for both fuel and nuclear technology.

        In fact, gas has the most egalitarian distribution:

        If you combine oil, gas and coal distribution maps, the picture is even better.
        That’s good for competition and sovereignty.

      • “Hydrocarbons, for example, aren’t egalitarian like uranium….”

        NOTHING is “egalitarian”.

        “Most countries, as with France, have none, and would therefore have to rely on foreigners for both fuel and nuclear technology”

        That’s obvious BS.

        France relies on foreigners for both fuel and nuclear technology???

        What’s wrong with importing stuff?

        “In fact, gas has the most egalitarian distribution:”

        France has gas? Where? At what cost?

        Your graphs are misleading at best.

      • “Egalitarian” is a French word for something that doesn’t exist…anywhere? Not even as a metaphor for a more equitable distribution of energy resources that would make a successful war against hydrocarbons, as you put it, “worthwhile“?

        France has an abundance of gas, apparently:

        But your parliament created legal impediments for establishing feasibility and costs:

  52. Allthough the ‘Author’ of this post may have made some miscalculations I can see where he’s coming from.
    If the U.K. was to replace all gas used in one year,lets say 898 terawatt Hours (see my previous posts), with so called ‘Renewable Energy’, where would it all come from?
    The U.K. is a small place with no space.

  53. From the article,

    “I’m not sure the English language has a word strong enough to describe this.”

    There isn’t one. But there is a word that the English stole from the Saxons which sums this insanity up very well. Begins with an “F” and ends with a “D”!

  54. It is a great shame to see an article like this using ‘alarmaristmath’ and taking the peak capability of a home heating system to determine a faux average demand.

    Especially since heat is for more easily stored than electricity, to smooth out daily demand peaks.

    Fore some rather closer estimates of what could be involved in a fossil and carbon neutral UK , see :




    In short I am afraid that this is a poor article. The true size of an all electric UK grid is about 3-5 times larger than the current grid not 20 times

    It is certainly achievable,but at a considerable cost and is not economic at current fuel prices. Nor is it remotely achievable with ‘renewable energy’.

    • Leo Smith

      It is a great shame to see an article like this using ‘alarmaristmath’ and taking the peak capability of a home heating system to determine a faux average demand.

      Especially since heat is for more easily stored than electricity, to smooth out daily demand peaks.

      And just how the bloody daylights are you going to “store heat” for homes .. when you DON’T HAVE TO in the first place? When power is required to “covert” chemical or electrical energy in one place (while losing energy),
      transfer to another (while losing energy),
      store it somehow with constant losses (while losing energy),
      remove it from that storage facility (while losing energy),
      transfer it back to the homes in different sites (while losing energy),
      then reheat the homes according to the usage pattern of each home’s kitchen, bedroom, baths, store rooms, upstairs and downstairs and in each ladies’ chambers?

      When we can’t efficiently store electricity at all in most places absent a convenient high-elevation lake above a permanent water supply and low-level lake with available cheap electricity always predictably available to pump it uphill … You want to remove an efficient, working system of natural gas pipes and heaters and regulators and replace it with fairy and pixie dust carried by unicorns?

      • “store heat” for homes ..in radiators or ‘economy 7’ stoneblock heaters as mentioned above
        (or new tech like molten salt etc)

        BTW by saying “bloody daylights” are you trying to speak British English ?
        It’s not phrase anyone uses.

      • Yes! Economy 7, night storage heaters! Crikey! Brings back memories. They did work at a time when electricity was cheap. Today? No so much as gas is king right now in the UK.

      • “stewgreen

        January 23, 2016 at 11:33 pm

        BTW by saying “bloody daylights” are you trying to speak British English ?”

        No I think he is trying to speak English English (Austin Powers, how apt, reference).

      • Actually, “I will beat the bloody (some say living) daylights out of you” is a very English expression.

      • Actually storing heat is pretty easy. All it takes is a big mass. Could be concrete, could be water. ‘Night storage heaters’ already exist although they are terribly unsatisfactory.

        However that was only part of what I was saying. You may have a 60KW boiler to supply ‘instant hot water’ but even a fairly massive house in the depths of winter doesn’t pull more than 10Kw if its reasonably insulated.

        And no I dont want top replace stuff BUT I am prepared to examine honestly what it takes to do it, and write it up, honestly, which I have done. And which I am afraid this author has not done.

        It is possible to ditch gas and oil and coal, but it comes at a price which is not currently economic, but its not as uneconomic as this author suggests.

  55. I think the math you present here is fundamentally flawed! You can’t just sum up installed power and pretend this will be used power! To pick up your example of a 7kW electric shower. This is the rated power as per the type plate of the device. Then there is a switch to turn the device on and off. So your figures are way too high. Please recalculate with more realistic assumptions.
    Nevertheless, I wouldn’t like to see any of this COP21 stuff coined into legal paragraphs ;-(

  56. No. Let’s not assume an average of 100 horse power per car. That is the max of the power curve of that car; even a 200 hp car (or 300 or 400…) only produces like 20-50 most of the time, i.e. when rolling along, or in city traffic… you can see that live in any modern car on the infotainment screen. Let’s not go with the actual fuel consumption; let’s go with what current electric cars, which would be the replacement, need to run…

  57. Just out of curiosity, what kind of heating requirements would there be in Canada, where often winter temperatures sit at -30C or drop below -40C? Add a wind to that.
    Lucky for us we’re also sitting on a massive amount of Natural Gas. Unlucky for panicky people that fear burning it.

  58. Even if you do run out of fuel, you’ll probably have a spare can in the trunk:

    I don’t think so. I would install a bracket and carry it outside — if I had to carry fuel.
    Fumes can vent from the can. Open the trunk, a light goes on, and boom.
    Lots of other bad things can happen.

    Seriously, if this isn’t against the law — it should be.

    • Only if the mixture of fuel fumes and air ratio was right (9% is the butter zone I think) and there was a spark otherwise nothing. How do you think a fuel gauge works?

  59. Sigh.

    FIrst, Philip Foster, thanks for the article. Next, I fear that I agree with the others that your numbers make no sense.

    You are right that it will be a wrenching change to switch the UK away from fossil fuels to electricity. It is also totally un-necessary.

    However, it will not require as many new power plants as you claim. Your numbers have serious problems. By that I don’t just mean that they are wrong. I mean that the units are wrong, and thus you are measuring the wrong thing. You are measuring watts, when you need to be measuring watt-hours.

    All the best,


    • Willis,
      I think the numbers in the article are an under estimate if anything. I have tried to meet your usual request below.

      Check out the numbers:
      From Ofgem the UK government energy market regulator

      New typical medium consumption figures gas=16,500 kWh electricity=3,300 kWh
      There’s a calculator at this url if you know any UK post codes

      UK Government figures
      There were 27.0 million households in the UK in 2015, 35% of all households were two person households.

      Average annual mileage 12000 daily that is about 32 miles or a third charge for a Nissan Leaf (see below)
      Registered vehicles 35 million

      Nissan Leaf (Wikipedia)
      The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official range for the 2016 model year Leaf with the 30 kWh battery is 172 km (107 miles) on a full battery charge, while the trim with the smaller 24 kWh battery is 135 km (84 miles), the same as the 2014/15 model year.

      Some notes to bear in mind
      1. As gas is used for heating in UK homes most don’t have any electrical heaters or one at the most big expense for households to change
      2. Most consumption of gas is during the 6 months of winter October-March. There are parts of the UK where heating is used every month of the year, although not every day, by some households.
      3. 40% of private cars have a female registered keeper. Who won’t want to leave home on less 100% charge – if they have any sense.
      4. The Nissan figures don’t include running wipers and window demisting on a rainy November day.
      5. The urban infrastructure uses more electricity in winter, street lights for example.
      6 Taking the Ofgem figures above at face value then to cover domestic usage a five-fold increase in electricity generation is required to cover the requirement.

      I’d be interested where I have gone wrong in my thinking.

      • This sounds correct! I didn’t check the figures. If you know the gas consumption of a group of households, and you want to replace this by electricity, then you have to provide electric power stations with an electric output of the same amount. At this point comes the efficiency of the electric power station: Let’s consider two facts:
        1) Energy brought to households in the form of gas can be converted to heat with very little losses. The efficiency of devices like water boilers is almost 100%.
        2) Now consider the Power stations: The electric output power is roughly 30% (coal)…60% (gas) of the primary energy input. So, if one would substitute gas household heatings by electricity which were to be produced by coal or gas power stations, the primary energy consumption would approximately double or triple.
        3) When switching to green primary energy, the situation is completely different again. They are not able to deliver just at the right time. In a conventional power grid, generators are big and centralized. They run at rated speed, producing a nearly constant voltage, and as loads are switched on and off, deliver more or less current. With green generators, a new problem pops up: Generators are being driven up and down, according to weather conditions, clouds, sunshine, wind. In conventional power grids, the generator stations are designed, that they *CAN* deliver. The green generators can deliver too – *SOMETIMES*. If we were to satisfy the power demand with wind only, then the installed generator power of wind turbines should be *50 times the maximum power demand!* Yes, sometimes there is very little wind!
        4) With combined green generator capacities, sun AND wind, the factor can be estimated to be less than 50, maybe 20.

    • Hi Willis,
      No Watts (power) is the correct calculation, not Watt-hours (energy).
      That’s because the calculation is about “all home heating should move away from gas to be all electric.”
      To make that calculation you need to know how much extra electricity feed you need into all homes.

      Note on units: The similarity in name between kilo Watt hours and kilo Watts is a bit of a trap. They are not the same thing. One is a unit of Energy and the other is a unit of power…
      Energy is power multiplied by time; power is energy divided by time (i.e. energy used per unit time). Power is measured in Watts (W), kilo Watts (kW), Mega Watts (MW) etc. Power is how much work you are doing right now. A 2kW heater is working twice as hard as a 1kW heater.
      Energy is measured in Joules (J), kilo Joules (kJ), etc. and is a measure of the total amount of work done (and hence your electricity bill). The 2kW heater will run up the same bill in half the time as the 1kW because it is working twice as hard. Energy is also (rather confusingly) measured in the bastard unit the kilo Watt hour (kWh). A kWh is just the number of Joules that you use when working at 1kW for one hour. That is, 1000 Watts times 3600 seconds in an hour; 3,600,000 Joules or 3.6MJ.
      As I write, it’s 12C outside and a toasty 22C inside, so my heating has raised the inside temperature 10C. To do that on my small place takes (say) 2kW (power), so I’m using 2kWh (energy) each hour.
      If I were to use my same 2kWh but spread over a whole day, I’d only have one twenty-fourth of the 2kW at any time. That’s only 83W and would only raise the temperature indoors by 0.4C. The indoors temperature would only be 12.4C and I’d have to put on a woolly jumper or two (and a hat).
      The do the calculation for the whole country we need to know how much gas is burned in a day heating homes. We won’t be able to get the worst case maximum because I doubt that gas consumption is measured on a second by second (as electricity consumption is). That means that we can only calculate the average demand, not the peak (which is what governs the maximum generating capacity required). Nevertheless, we should be able to get a reasonable estimate of, say, extra electricity generating capacity needed for heating the UK on a winter day, provided we can get daily gas usage figures.
      (I think I’ve got that right)
      All the best…

      • Correct!
        Power [kW] is a measure [unit] of an INTENSITY,
        energy [kWh] is a measure [unit] of a QUANTITY.

    • Willis, stewgreen
      Please check these numbers. I think the situation is worse than stated. All skeptics should check independently?

      In 2013:
      There were 35 million vehicles licensed for use on the road in Great Britain.
      40% of private cars have a female registered keeper.
      ref = http://www.gov.uk – government/statistics/vehicle-licensing-statistics-2013

      The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official range for the 2016 model year Leaf with the 30 kWh battery is 172 km (107 miles) on a full battery charge, while the trim with the smaller 24 kWh battery is 135 km (84 miles), the same as the 2014/15 model year.
      ref = wikipedia

      Average mileages, car 12000 (32 miles per day one third Nissan Leaf charge)
      ref = afdc.energy.gov

      Domestic energy use
      New typical medium consumption figures gas=16,500 kWh electricity=3,300 kWh
      ref = ofgem.gov.uk

      1. Most UK households have little or no electrical heating, major expense for citizens in changing
      2. To replace gas with electricity domestically requires a fivefold increase in generation capability.
      3 Most gas (80%?) is used in the 6 winter months, October – March, meaning point 2 is a low estimate.
      4. Most people will leave home with a fully charged Nissan Leaf. Particularly female users who quite rightly won’t want to be stranded alone on a dark road.
      5. Most UK homes have a hot water cistern (about 200litre) so overall more energy is used than for heat as it’s used systems.

      Mods I posted something like this earlier which may be in Room 101.

      • Sandy, just a few ‘corrections’ if I may. It wouldn’t be a major expense for a chnagover to electric (not in investment). UFH and fanned (in-floor) heating isn’t expensive. A fanned (in-floor) system would cost around £1,400, whereas a replacement boiler costs £2,500. Secondly, it’s envisaged to have homes as individual power stations for its own use. A combined heat and power unit generates power to run an electric heating system of 10kW. The heat produced by such units provides hot water. Thus a home is self-sufficient in power and hot water. The National Grid doesn’t need to do anything. The downside is that these units are £20,000. Average hot water cyclinders in Britain are 150 litres.

      • Baz,
        OK 150 litres, still a lot of hot water standing around cooling down.

        In this discussion the UK is talking about a zero CO2 regime. Are these combined heat and power units non-fossil fuel? How many people can afford £20K?

        Boilers are only replaced on failure or on new ownership, every 15-20 years probably?

        For electrical UFH the old hot water radiator system, the most common type would, in most cases be removed adding to the cost. I suspect that the timescale which will be imposed by the government will be a lot less than the normal turnover rate. This would lead to a shortage of skilled labour and higher cost due to market forces.

        Now, in this zero CO2 regime, we’re talking retrofit and from what little I know even electrical UFH systems will require the following in most retrofit installations:

        Remove all the furniture and belongings from the room
        Lift and remove all the carpets and floor coverings (and throw them away – even carpet never goes back right 2nd time)
        *Insulate under the floors (in timber suspended floors as drafts draw heat away)
        Bash holes through walls to get the feed lines
        Have the room(s) out of action for 2~3 days at a time
        Plane down all the doors to accommodate the uplift in floor height
        Possibly remove and refit your skirtings to accommodate the new floor height
        *That’s virtually every traditional home in the UK.

        I suspect that most people would only do that in two or three rooms, the other rooms would have the hot water radiator replaced by an electrical convector. Most home owners turn off the heating in unused rooms and only turn it on when the room is occupied. A family of 4 in a UK 3 bed semi means all rooms are used. What I’m trying to say is that there is still a expense being forced onto house owners which they wouldn’t regard as necessary or sensible.

  60. Yep calling it out, cos right from the beginning the maths in this post is severely flawed. So please go back, check it and come back, as a new post.
    – It doesn’t seem it was checked over properly by someone who understands the context, before it was posted ..and that would have saved us a lot of time

    Warmists are you that watching ? Calling out your own side is easy, but you guys don’t do it.
    Yet above I can see all these people calling this out. @AJB @climatereason @Ben of Houston @Richard Barraclough @Terry @simple-touriste @Mike Smith @James Francisco @Bengt Abelsson @Steve from Rockwood @Fixy @Rab McDowell @Leo Smith @wijnand2015 @Crispin in Waterloo @indefatigablefrog.
    @Rudy MENZI

    Two main errors summarised by @indefatigablefrog @Crispin in Waterloo and wijnand2015
    #1 Assuming … total capacity = peak demand ..hence massively over estimating it
    #2 Undercounting the number of gas households out by about 30% (@Charlie)
    (60kw if far too high for a home boiler
    The boilers heat up the radiators then sit back a bit, so they don’t all draw peak capacity at the same time
    You can figs for UK gas heating consumption from DECC
    That would give you the basis for power you need to replace with electric)

    – As to the main argument yes I agree.
    Critically : One problem is heating is just a winter demand when solar/wind power are at the lowest.
    If you build an electric network to heat the UK in winter, that means you’ll have masses of infrastructure idle in the summer.

    • If you build an electric network to heat the UK in winter, that means you’ll have masses of infrastructure idle in the summer.
      It is already like that.


      Winter is darker colder and people are inside more watching more TV and charging their personal vibrators…;-)

  61. Philip Foster
    To most environmentalists you might as well have put your article in encrypted Greek. in my experience the mathematical ability of those who join Greenpeace and FOE is rather less than I acquired aged eleven.
    Sadly the case for green can be put glibly and dishonestly in words that are very convincing. The case against is totally dependent on numbers so more and more I realise we are doomed and might as well give up and die now.
    I have my view blighted by a wind farm so I have a constant visual reminder that whenever it is cold the output is zero. In the last few months we have had only ten days below zero and on only one has the wind farm had a turbine running and even on that day only two were actually turning the remainder static and all pointing different ways.
    As it is the feeling that the gas is controlled by an electric system is worrying enough without the additional loads proposed.

  62. How is burning wood pellets instead of coal in Drax a good idea, even for the CO2 thingy? Ostensibly coal and wood poduce the same CO2 per MJ heat when they burn, so there’s no immediate reduction in CO2 output to the atmosphere. Ah, but trees are renewable, and when they re-grow, they suck the CO2 back out of the atmosphere again goes the claim. Snag is they do it slowly, say 50-80 years from sapling to maturity, and as you get the same CO2 output at the time of burning, you have created the same ‘impact’ on the climate as with burning coal. And according to the catastrophists, we need to cut our emissions NOW!. From a CO2 mitigation perspective, they would have been better off continuing to burn coal and leaving the trees standing, as big trees fix more C02 than saplings, and maybe also planted some more forest. But the coneheads who run our energy policy can’t even get something as simple as this right.

  63. The Drax power station is on top of a coal field. That is the obvious place to build a coal fired power station. Unfortunately coal is not “renewable” whereas wood is. Therefore the British government decided that the Industrial Revolution, which started in Britain and then spread to other countries, was a mistake. That is why Drax now uses wood as if the Industrial Revolution never happened. Unfortunately Britain does not have enough trees which is why coal mines were developed in the first place, kick starting the Industrial Revolution. Therefore we are importing wood pellets from the United States.

    How environmentally friendly is that?

  64. An oven 10Kw? I suggest you look at the rating plate attached, around 2.5Kw.
    A fossil fueled engine becomes more efficient as the temperature difference increases, See the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

  65. @Sandy In Limousin ,The main point is that this article is flawed thru slipshod assumptions.
    Now as you say his bad assumptions work both ways some too high some too low. Like as you say may have underestimated the values for EV’s and failed to take into account that gas heating is only used in winter.
    But the “workings have to be correct”, it’s no good in an exam just guessing the correct answer.
    ..so Phil needs check and come back with a new post.

    #1 Some Canadians seem to be saying, but we mostly use electric heating.
    Yes but the UK is well set up for gas with a supply in the seas, shale gas to come, whereas Canada has houses probably much further apart and more distant from the supplies.
    #2 Some people talked about UK houses having hot water tamks, but as people upgrade boilers most choose to move to instant hot water systems and so cut out the tank and it’s wastage.
    #3 The solar paradox ..they’d be massive wastage if you put solar PV panels on the roof and then use the electricity generated to heat water..that’s hugely wasteful compared to just using having hot water panels on the roof. But the advances in gas efficiency have been so good that it’s cheaper overall to just use a gas boiler than to mess around with the EXTRA* work of installing hot water panels
    ..*You need the gas boilers for cold days anyway.
    #4 Lot of countries probably have lower fossil fuel heating values, cos they use masses of wood logs .. I don’t they are particularly good for saving CO2 aswell as being bad for particulate pollution.
    #5. If electric heating was such a great thing then the market would already be driving people that way,. It isn’t.

    • stewgreen,
      The main point is that however many errors there are in all our guessimates the people who came up with the zero COP21 plan didn’t do any calculations.

      The article has it right in several points, heat pumps, wood for electricity, current battery technology makes virtually all EVs useless as a practical alternative to diesel/petrol(gasoline)

      On a couple of your points, here in this part of France a lot of wood is used for heating, even in this very rural part (Population density (people per km2): 42) the wood smoke hangs heavy in the air on still frosty days. There is also quite a high usage of electrical heating for instance when it’s not worth lighting a fire.

  66. 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!

    Anybody care to do the maths about how many additional locomotives and rolling stock would be needed to haul all that extra bio-mass?
    A bit hypothetical really as the UK has nowhere need the rail capacity to haul that amount of stuff.
    And here’s what a bio-mass train looks like:
    Biomass At Barnetby East.

    • By the way that train is hauled by a Class 66 locomotive. Class 66 locomotives were built in Canada by Electro-Motive Diesel (EMD), then a division of General Motors.
      So we’d need to order lots more of them. How much fossil fuel would be required to transport them across the Atlantic?

  67. Then there’s the area of woodland required. Good Sitka Spruce yield is 15 cubic meters per hectare per annum, and let’s assume favourably that it could be burnt as is without drying. For 7m tonnes p.a. that Drax burns, we require 4666 sq km of woodland for a ‘sustainable’ supply. That’s an area the size of Devon, or Lincolnshire, where you’d no longer be able to grow food.
    Coal is good. Burning coal is better than burning trees.
    You can make electricty and still have that nice forest to enjoy.

  68. Apologies to lead post author Philip Foster for my corruption of his post’s title, as follows:

    If the UK were to try and achieve COP21 ideas – hold on to your hats! it would look at night like a satellite image of North Korea


  69. A couple of quick points:
    ‘Heating only needed in winter’
    So? If you are unable to supply the power in winter then the grid goes down. That’s why my sums are all about power not energy. A supply MUST be able to cover the maximum requirement (and some slack in case a power station is down for repair).
    Cookers are usually rated at about 10kW. Each hob ring is around 1kW (usually 4 of them), a grill another 2kW and oven 4kW. in the UK it usually has a 45A fuse at 240v.

    • Google ‘diversity in electrical supplies’

      No one has everything on at once.

      Even the famous Coronation Street Kettle Rush is only about a GW over the whole country.

      Some rough and useful factoids.

      A litre of diesel or petrol (gasoline) is about 10Kwh in energy

      Generator to wheel on an electric car is about 80% efficient, its about 20% fuel to wheel. So you need 1/4 the amount of electrical energy as you do fuel energy.

      A typical house will take between 2 and 10Kw to heat in a UK winter. There are 20 million house so that’s at say an average of 5KW and not using heat pumps, around 100GW more of national power about 2 x the existing grid.

      The average car does about 8000 miles a year at say 40 mpg that is 200 gallons or roughly 1000 liters, or 10Mwh. BUT the efficiency is around 4 times a fuel burner, so lets say 2.5MWh, averaged over say – 10,000 hours a running average of just 250W per car. If there are 20 million cars in daily use, that’s around 5GW average to run domestic cars..maybe treble or quadruple that for electric freight transport. I did do the calculations based on DECC figures for total energy use of all types, in the UK, but it was a few years back

      These are very broad brush strokes, but my contention that around 3x – 6x grid and power station upscale is enough to do everything with electric, is not far off.

      And it wouldn’t be done at one go..Rationally you start to go massively nuclear, and extend the grid as needed, and keep the nuclear price below carbon pricing until the transformation is complete. Or rather in a rational world you don’t. You make nuclear regulations rational, and let them compete with fossil. As cheap fossil gets scarce, you upscale the nuclear grid as demand dictates.

      At 60p a litre for heating oil, electricity – around 6p a unit at the power station, was dangerously near parity. At 30p a litre is is no longer interesting. Except with a heat pump, and the capital cost of that is horrendous.

      But if heating oil were up at 100p a litre ex of tax, and we had sane nuclear power, suddenly its not such a crazy thing. A LOT of houses in Nuclear France are electrically heated, as they are in other countries with cheap hydropower like Canada or Sweden.

      Of course we won’t ever do what COP21 dictates. However that is no excuse for using bad assumptions to make the point. You dont need to lie.. The truth is already damning enough

      And the truth is that if we HAVE to, we can run the nation on non fossil power. It won’t be cheap, but its possible…eventually. It wont be in my lifetime, but it may well be in this century.

      The most stupid thing (except for trying to do it now [Energiewiende]), is to pretend that fossil fuel will last forever, economically, and we won’t need to look at phasing it out, gradually, over many decades. The first step – which the UK is embarking on – is getting some – any – form of new nuclear in play. After that, its all down to adjusting the rate of transition to ‘as much nuclear as is economically advantageous’ ..and ‘as little renewable as is politically acceptable’ .

      Make nuclear possible, and cheap, and it will naturally displace what it is appropriate for it to displace. Stop making renewables artificially profitable and they will be gone in a decade.

      If you actually give a rats ass about carbon emissions, then sort out the nuclear regulations so that you can bang in bog standard nukes fast , cheaply and safely.

      Otherwise ruin qas for now, and do that in a decade when (cheap) gas runs out (again).

      • Brilliant work, thank you. If these educated approximations had been contained in the original article then I would have seen no obvious reason to doubt the information provided.
        It is immediately obvious when a person has a grasp of the meaning of the terms and concepts used in these discussions.
        Without that – the errors multiply up, so quickly, that a baffling fantasy can be generated within just a few paragraphs.

  70. Here in Quebec the biggest part of my electricity (hydro) is charged at the equivalent of 4 UK pence (0.08 CDN$) per Kwh. In other words our electric heating is quite cheap. Everything is electric and our average total annual consumption is around 15,000 Kwh (CDN$1200/GBP600). It makes me cringe when I read what people in other jurisdictions pay!

    • It makes me cringe when I read what people in other jurisdictions pay!

      I believe our site host, Anthony, has a peak demand charge that’s about 1.00 CDN$/kWh. That’s right, there’s a “1” before the decimal.

  71. COP 21 – what a waste of money it was!!! They set up rules for CO2 emissions and for the use of fossil fuels, but they said no word about the oceans, which play the most important role in the climate change process. I wonder way?! Maybe because the oceans play also an important role in their economic plans…. The future generation will be the one who will answer for our mistakes! Sad but true….

  72. As an economy 7 user (UK overnight electricity) I would like to correct the false impression a number of correspondents have given regarding the cost of this. My present tariff which ends at the end of February is 4.998 pence per kwh. The new tariff will be 5.103 pence per kwh. The same rate is used for immersion water heating, use of tumbler dryer (most welcome in our climate) as well as washing machine and dish washer. Gas is also generally around 5 pence per kwh. Gas scores of course when being used during the day as electricity day rate is far higher. But how much does maintenance of modern gas boilers cost?


    • Ian;

      I have a gas-fired furnace in my home, and I pay the service tech about $200 (US) every year to check it out before the heating season. That includes cleaning the heat exchanger coil as well.

  73. Sandy In Limousin January 24, 2016 at 12:33 am Edit

    I think the numbers in the article are an under estimate if anything. I have tried to meet your usual request below.

    Check out the numbers:
    From Ofgem the UK government energy market regulator

    New typical medium consumption figures gas=16,500 kWh electricity=3,300 kWh
    There’s a calculator at this url if you know any UK post codes

    UK Government figures
    There were 27.0 million households in the UK in 2015, 35% of all households were two person households.

    OK. From those numbers, we need residential electricity for heating which is five times the current usage of residential electricity. For the total households number of households, we’d need:

    27E+6 households * 16.5E+6 watt-hours / year = 4.5E+14 watt-hours / year

    How much more installed capacity would that take? Well, for capacity we need to divide the previous result by 8,766 hours per year, which gives us a needed additional capacity of 51 gigawatts (51E+9 watts).

    Now, the head post says to replace gas with electricity we’d need one terawatt (1,000E+9 watts), twenty times what is actually required.

    As you can see, the problem is not the underlying data. It is that he does not do the math correctly.


  74. gareth January 24, 2016 at 1:02 am

    Hi Willis,
    No Watts (power) is the correct calculation, not Watt-hours (energy).
    That’s because the calculation is about “all home heating should move away from gas to be all electric.”
    To make that calculation you need to know how much extra electricity feed you need into all homes.

    Thanks, Gareth. Let’s take a look at the situation. The head post says:

    The average household boiler is rated at 60 kiloWatt

    To replace that with electric home heating would still require about the same electrical capacity.

    The problem is that the 60 kW is the nameplate capacity, which means it is what it the boiler draws, but ONLY WHEN IT IS ON. Lets assume it is on for an hour a day, call it 365 hours per year.

    That means that in a year, the boiler will use a total of 6E+4 kW * 365 hrs/year = 2.2E+7 kilowatt-hours/year.

    Additional needed generating capacity is that last value divided by 8,766 hours/year, which is only about 2.5 kilowatts/household. That number times his figure of 16 million households gives a value of 40 gigawatts of additional capacity.

    Compare that to the calculation based on the figures Sandy gave us just above, which said we’d need 51 gigawatts of additional capacity. We’re certainly close given that the figures are from different sources … and neither of the results are anywhere near his claimed need for 1,000 gigawatts of additional energy (1 terawatt).

    So no, you can’t do it without going by way of kilowatt-hours.

    Best regards,


    • Hi Willis,
      You seem good at math’s, so if the U.K. Consumption of gas is say 898 terawatt Hours per year and the consumption of electricity is 275 Gigawatt Hours per year(see earlier posts) how much electricity (roughly)would the U.K. need from ‘other sources’ to replace Gas.
      Thanks in anticipation of your reply.

      • D.I.

        Hi Willis,
        You seem good at math’s, so if the U.K. Consumption of gas is say 898 terawatt Hours per year and the consumption of electricity is 275 Gigawatt Hours per year(see earlier posts) how much electricity (roughly)would the U.K. need from ‘other sources’ to replace Gas.

        Well, if the heat equivalent is generated by windmills at .21 efficiency factor for a nameplate rating, then you need
        898 terawatt Hours per year / .21 = 898 TWatt-hr/yr / 0.21 = 4,276 Twatt-hrs/yr

        If the heat equivalent is generated by conventional superheated steam fossil plants at .43% thermal efficiency,
        898 Twatt-Hrs/Yr / .43 = 2,088 TWatt-Hrs/Yr

        If the heat equivalent is generated by new generation dual cycle Gas Turbines with heat recovery steam generators at .63% combined thermal efficiency,
        898 Twatt-Hrs/Yr / .63 = 1,425 TWatt-Hrs/Yr

        If the heat equivalent is generated by PV cells operating 6 hrs/day at 17% solar-electrical efficiency,
        You need 4x the area of the 6-hour charge rate available at 17% efficiency (an almost unheard-of conversion efficiency!)
        4 x 898 Twatt-Hrs/Yr / .17 = 21,129 TWatt-Hrs/Yr. But that assumes 100% efficiency of electricity-energy-into-storage-energy each afternoon, 100% energy storage efficiency overnight, and then 100% energy-from-storage-back-into-electricity the next morning.
        Ain’t gonna happen. Today’s batteries are about 80% efficient energy-convevrsion-into-chemical energy, 95 efficient energy storage, and 85% battery-chemicals-back-to-electricity. And then you lose a lot of energy (2-7% more) reconverting the final DC volts back to very high volt AC for transmission across the country and cities.
        So, that means the 21,129 TWatt-hrs/yr / (.80 x .95 x .85) = 32,708 Twatt-Hrs/Yr.

        As long as the UK has perfectly clear skies and no rain during the 6 daylight hours available to charge her batteries every day.

    • Hi Willis & thanks for comments.

      My point was that the number that we are after is the extra electricity generating capacity needed. That capacity has to be enough to provide the worst case winter heat load that is currently done by gas, and that will be a power not an energy – how many extra GW of generating capacity above the current “full throttle” 85 GW or so capacity (source gov.uk) or the worst case demand of (from memory )about 60 GW.

      The rating of individual boilers is largely irrelevant because, as you say, it depends on how much of the time it is on, and that depends on the amount of heating it needs to do to keep the house up to temperature, and that depends on the boiler rating, the outside temperature, the insulation of the house and the setting of the thermostat. To get back to the actual power being supplied by gas we can (as you do) make an assumption about the fraction of the time that the boiler is running (1/24 in your estimate). This is a valid method but I think it is difficult to know what that fraction should actually be.

      This is why I was suggesting that a better way is to take the figure for actual gas consumption – ideally the worst case figure on a cold winter day on as short time resolution as we can get (so as to approximate the peak, rather than the mean). I haven’t found this yet, but using the 16,500 kWh per year that Sandy In Limousin quotes, and knowing that the UK heating season is about half the year, I make that about…

      16,500 kWh / 183 days / 24 hours = 3.8 kW on average per household
      or 100 GW for the country (using 27 million households – again, as above, 16 is too low).

      So 2.5 times your estimate but in the same order.

      We also need to account for the peak heating load which will be quite a bit higher than the average. How much? I don’t know – guess 3x ? If so we get about 300 GW, compared with the current peak electricity load of about 60 GW – five times as much (and that’s without the electric cars added in).

      Isn’t it quaint that a load of bloggers and comentards can do the sums that politicians can’t?

      All the best…

      • Instead of guesstimates, why don’t you just look at countries with a lot of electric heating and extrapolate from these numbers?

        Electric power data is widely available.

      • simple-touriste

        Instead of guesstimates, why don’t you just look at countries with a lot of electric heating and extrapolate from these numbers?

        Because very, very few countries (and very few regions within countries) use electricity for heating, because electricity is a very inefficient way to generate heat inside houses and buildings. (Unless you are literally siting right in the middle of a field of existing hydroelectric dams, each already built and with an eco-greeny political blessing for those (existing) dams to remain in place.)

        The enviro’s will not permit more dams to be built in any area where they control the political/press, and the developed areas in western countries already have most of their sites already damned by the eco-greenies. We will see very, very little more hydro power developed in the western countries.

      • “The enviro’s will not permit more dams to be built in any area where they control the political/press”

        OTOH the increase of highly variable, unpredictable, unreliable power generation will necessitate these dams as energy buffer, as no other storage technology is even close to being enough mature, economical or scalable. Unless the population accepts random power restrictions (or even blackouts), which I see as extremely unlikely.

        I expect civil unrest when people discover that their energy became not only costly, but also very unreliable.

  75. Did anyone say that electrical heating cost 4 times gas? Try that on consumers. Check the tariffs. The underlying reason is that electricity is pure energy produced relatively inefficiently in power staions and too valuable to be wasted in heating applications. Gas boilers make over 90% efficient use of primary fossil fuel as heat in modern condensing boilers. etc.. The physics denies the stupidly regressive rhetoric. Sorry about the laws of physics.

    • If you have the necessary infrastructure (distribution infrastructure, boiler, chimney) burning stuff may be cheaper.

      If you don’t, building houses with electric heating may be cheaper. Then you use the money on better isolation. This was the model promoted by EDF. Energy is more expensive, but you use less, and you don’t need to check the safety of your boiler each year.

      Of course, too much electric heating creates a systemic issue as it causes power spikes in winter, and EDF created contracts with different pricing (called “EJP” = “effacement jours de pointe” = erase peak days) with a very high price on very few days each year.

      Load management existed long before “smart metering” was a buzzword. (I think there is going to be civil unrest when people discover that “smart metering” means load management.)

      Each country has a different electric energy mix, and different ability to cope with large variations of demand. Choice of energy for heating is an individual choice, but the promotion of some energy can be a national policy choice with significant systemic impact.

  76. A peak month of demand is 25 mtoe, or of the order of 1 mtoe per day, which is 12 TWh per day/500GW of primary energy, or no more than about 200 GWe .

  77. https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=97&t=3

    In 2014, the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer was 10,932 kilowatthours (kWh), an average of 911 kWh per month. Louisiana had the highest annual consumption at 15,497 kWh per residential customer, and Hawaii had the lowest at 6,077 kWh per residential customer.

    1.26 average rate of consumption
    Keep in mind that few people heat their homes with electricity in the US but Southern states use a lot more electricity for summer AC

  78. Leo Smith January 24, 2016 at 11:53 am

    Some rough and useful factoids.

    Generator to wheel on an electric car is about 80% efficient, its about 20% fuel to wheel. So you need 1/4 the amount of electrical energy as you do fuel energy.

    Sorry, Leo, but you are not comparing fuel to wheel efficiencies, because electricity is not a fuel. It’s just a way to move energy around the planet. For “fuel to wheel” in an electric car, you have to add in the inefficiencies in generating the electricity. Power plants are on the order of 30% efficient, times your “generator to wheel” efficiency of 80%, gives an overall fuel to wheel economy for an electric car of 24% or so … not much different from gas-powered autos.


    • Sorry, but you can only compare efficiency when both points are the same, otherwise it’s apple to orange. You can compare two methods to convert crude oil to motive energy, you can’t compare a method to convert crude oil to energy and a method to convert coal to energy based on their efficiency.

      So you should compare a coal powered Tesla to a coal powered regular car.

      You also can’t badmouth solar PV on the basis of its solar flux to electric power conversion losses (unless you can make a case for another solar to electric energy conversion, say biomass to electric). But you can based on the energy required to produce the panel.

      (Or maybe you can, as a joke to tease ecoloons, cause they do it all the time and it’s funny to make them eat their own crap. But only in such context. Not in serious discussions.)

      You can compare oil and coal based on other criteria than conversion efficiency, like:
      – air pollution (fine particulate, sulfur, NOx…)
      – water pollution
      – accidental pollution rate (oil spills, coal ashes spills…)
      – mining/extraction accidents
      – overall accidents
      – overall impact on ecosystems
      – overall impact on human health
      – medium/long term expected availability
      – market price stability
      – diversity of producers
      – political stability of producing countries
      – overall impact on national politics

      but NOT efficiency.

    • simple-touriste January 26, 2016 at 6:26 am

      Sorry, but you can only compare efficiency when both points are the same, otherwise it’s apple to orange. You can compare two methods to convert crude oil to motive energy, you can’t compare a method to convert crude oil to energy and a method to convert coal to energy based on their efficiency.

      Perhaps you can’t compare those two methods, but the rest of the world makes such comparisons routinely.

      So you should compare a coal powered Tesla to a coal powered regular car.

      Why? People compare gas powered cars with diesel powered cars and fuel cell powered cars and hydrogen powered cars to see which one is more efficient at converting fuel to mechanical motion. For that matter, people compare cars to planes and trains to see which one is more efficient.

      Why should electric cars be exempt?


      • Perhaps you can’t compare those two methods, but the rest of the world makes such comparisons routinely.

        People often compare the energy required to move some goods via boat, trains, trucks over a given distance. I think one of my school books had such comparison.

        But this is meaningless if you only take the energy required for the motor and not the overall cost including the infrastructure (the cost of the rail isn’t a one time cost, the more it is used, the more it needs to be replaced).

        So people do it, and they are wrong. A better comparison is the total cost, including all the subsidies for infrastructure.

        People routinely do a lot of stupid stuff.

        Why should electric cars be exempt?

        This is a silly game so everyone is exempt.

        (Electric cars don’t want to be exempt.)

  79. Is it just me? Every time the Drax facility is mentioned I remember the Bond uber-villain in the movie “Moonraker”, who wanted to exterminate the human race and start over with his own perfect eugenic specimens. I guess it’s all the tree-hugger wackos who are constantly bleating about how much better off the world would be without humans. The difference is this time the eco-terrorists are clear-cutting forests in the US to produce “green” energy for the UK.

  80. For a 2015 summary of electrical generation cost on an LCOE basis (all CAPEX and OPEX cost including construction, operation and remediation, at three rates of return on capital employed. This is very authoritative, as are all the other national and global data sets here. GIves the lie(s) to the partial assertion and absolute science fiction of ignorant eco-worriers, by far the largest body of science deniers on the planet. When you have proven enrgy physics and established data, opinions are irrelevant. https://www.iea.org/Textbase/npsum/ElecCost2015SUM.pdf

    I also took an average estimate of energy conversion efficiencies in the Excel spreadsheet I posted re substituting electricity for gas in heating and fuel in road transport, Again, the biggest real problem in heating electrically is it is a waste of pure energy and costs 4 times as much as gas per kWh. CCGT thermal efficiency 60% x battery charger efficiency and other losses (hard to find the truth re enrgy out/electrical energy in in all the Tesla BS, which specifies “efficiency” as DC power supplied to battery vs. power out to drive, not real conversion efficiency from the AC mains. Simple deceit but fools most Californians who knowingly debate Tesla’s false premise rather than the actuaity of end to end electrical efficiency in their green delusion. Electrical power in a car includes so many losses from primary fuel used in generation through distribution, battery chargers, etc, that it is also no better than just burning the fuel in the car when needed, so much more conveneint and w/o carrying a ton of batteries which murders efficiency in stop start driving. This means would be much cheaper because the fuel is relatively cheap to deliver to the fuel pump per unit energy, but the massive Duty and VAT burden vehicle make primary fuelling of vehicles with petrol and diesel vaguely comparable in cost, so enourages the wrong solution on straight utility grounds. Transferring the emissions to a power station maybe a good idea in cities, though. PM’s and NO2 are killing people prematurely. Long haul primary fuelling is clearly best use of primary energy and far greater utility to the car owner. I am agnostic on current hybrids, if they harvest barke enrgy and that’s generally enough to get them through most traffic jams, great.

    I covered this when looking at making synthetic fuel from nuclear energy, CO2 and water. At the end of fossil, electrical transport makes sense for urban use, also drive on drive off Carrail or train/drive long haul. Le Shuttle overground.

    Asked why he switched to steam from sail for trade, one Victorian entrepreneur had a simple answer. “Only the wind is free” (he is not recorded as saying “when it’s there”). Look at what you need in men and materials to collect enough energy, when available. Running out of motive energy is also a bad idea at sea. Not too many solar powered bulk freighters/tankers around either. Actually if I ran tankers I’d lok at using the cargo as bunker fuel for my Wartsila diesel. 50% thermal efficiency at a few hundred rpm. . Why not? Alternative energy source FAR too weak and diffuse to collect enough on a ship. Commercial nuclear propulsion coming, though? etc.

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