Gas could be diverted from factories to heat homes and hospitals

Gas could be diverted from factories to heat homes and hospitals if there is a severe winter shortage amid contingency plans as prices soar

  • Government officials, energy industry bosses are examining contingency plans
  • Britain relies on constant supplies of gas and only stores four or five days supply
  • Officials are planning in case an emergency ‘gas balancing’ notification is issued

Gas could be diverted from factories to heat homes and hospitals if there is a severe shortage this winter, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

Government officials and energy industry bosses are examining the contingency plans as gas prices soar. 

Britain relies on constant supplies of gas and has only enough storage capacity to meet demand for four or five winter days.

Factories have been asked for their energy usage and contact details by suppliers and officials in case an emergency ‘gas balancing’ notification is issued.

Such an alert, formerly called a gas deficit warning, has not been issued since the ‘Beast from the East’ swept freezing conditions across Britain in 2018. 

Government officials and energy industry bosses are examining the contingency plans as gas prices soar

It is understood the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is working with National Grid and gas network operators to scrutinise Britain’s gas demands.

Gas prices have spiked as imports from Russia to Europe have fallen sharply, sending several energy suppliers out of business and putting Britain’s lack of gas storage under the spotlight.

If the ‘gas balancing’ alert is issued by National Grid, it would trigger three key responses.

First, the amount of gas in the system would be boosted.

Second, large commercial consumers of gas such as steelworks could be instructed to stop using the gas system.

Third, the Government and suppliers could appeal to the public to reduce or stop their gas consumption, or even shut down sections of the network. That would effectively cut off small businesses and homes.

Industry sources said Government officials had reassured them they are ‘confident’ there will be no interruption to supplies this winter.

Britain’s biggest energy users include steel, chemical and ceramics factories.

Boris Johnson is expected to sign off on hundreds of millions of pounds of State-backed loans for energy intensive businesses, such as steel and glass factories struggling to meet soaring energy costs

Boris Johnson is expected to sign off on hundreds of millions of pounds of State-backed loans for energy intensive businesses, such as steel and glass factories struggling to meet soaring energy costs.

National Grid also issues ‘margin notices’ to network operators if demand is greater than supply for the following day.

A National Grid spokeswoman said: ‘We have a range of tools available to manage any operational requirements through the winter.

‘This may include issuing margin notices to encourage market participants to take action should there be a forecast supply/demand imbalance for the coming gas day.’

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