The BIG questions in UK energy – and what we’re doing to answer them
You might think of British Gas as the company that supplies your home with energy. Or comes to fix your boiler when it breaks down.
But that’s not all we do – far from it.
Here’s a quick rundown of what we’re doing behind the scenes to help answer the biggest, toughest questions in UK energy.
What can the UK do to avoid another energy crisis?
When the recent energy crisis hit, we started work straight away on reopening the Rough storage site, a former gas field in the rocks deep beneath the North Sea.
It was a big challenge, but within months we managed to increase the UK’s total gas storage by 50%.
Having those bigger reserves will help keep prices stable and make the country more resilient for years to come.
And that’s just the start of our plans for Rough. We’re now looking at how we can use the site for long-term storage of low-carbon hydrogen gas too, which could help the UK reach its climate goals.
How can the UK boost its energy security?
As well as improving the UK’s storage facilities, we’ve been helping to make sure the nation has the guaranteed supplies it needs to avoid shortages in the future.
We recently agreed an important long-term deal with Equinor, Norway’s leading energy company. This will secure enough extra natural gas to power 4.5 million more UK homes for three years.
What role could hydrogen play in the UK’s future?
Tackling climate change means moving away from fossil fuels like oil, coal and natural gas. Renewables like wind and solar will play a central role in that, but they’re unlikely to be the answer on their own.
Hydrogen is one fuel that could help power a cleaner, greener future. It’s one of the world’s most abundant elements and burning hydrogen creates no CO2, making it much better for the planet.
We’ve been working on a whole range of projects that explore the role hydrogen could one day play in the UK’s energy mix. Here are just a few of them:
- The UK’s two experimental hydrogen villages in Redcar and Whitby
- The new hydrogen hub infrastructure at Easington
- The first-ever use of hydrogen in a UK gas-fired power station
How can the UK get more of its energy from renewables?
The UK might not be the sunniest country on Earth, but solar already plays a vital role in our renewable energy sector.
In 2022 1 4.4% of our electricity came from solar, compared to 1.8% from hydroelectric and 26.8% from wind.
And we’re investing in new solar farms that will increase that contribution. We plan to grow our capacity to 650MW by 2026 – that’s enough electricity to power around 1.3 million homes 2.
We’re also helping big organisations lower their carbon emissions by making more use of solar. In recent years, we’ve helped Vodafone secure green energy supplies from three solar farms in England – and we’ve even built a 4,000-panel farm for the British Army.
How do we get the UK’s homes to net zero faster?
As much as 40% of the UK’s carbon emissions come from our homes 3 so we’re committed to making it easier and cheaper for everyone to go greener in their daily lives. Here’s how:
Heat pumps – thanks to the latest heat pump tech, you can now enjoy heating and hot water without adding to CO2 emissions. They’re a low-carbon alternative to traditional gas boilers, and we’ve already started installing them in homes across the UK.
EV chargers – making the switch to electric driving is easy when you have your very own fast charger on the driveway. Our engineers can get you set up in no time – and the Hive app makes it simple to schedule charges for the greenest, cheapest times too.
Insulation – a big part of going greener is about cutting down on wasted energy. And our experts are now ready to install cavity wall and loft insulation to make your home more energy efficient. It could bring your bills down too!
Solar panels and home batteries – more and more homes are generating and storing their own electricity. Our engineers can install solar panels on your roof, along with a home battery to efficiently store any energy you don’t use straight away.
Home Health Check – book a visit from our energy-efficiency experts. They’ll analyse how energy is being used (and wasted!) in your whole home. And then give you simple, clear recommendations for lowering your bills and shrinking your carbon footprint.
What would a greener, smarter electricity grid look like?
Every morning and evening, demand on the UK’s electricity grid spikes. When this happens, the country needs to burn more gas to generate the extra energy.
Gas is perfect for this because it’s easy to turn on and off – unlike wind, solar or nuclear power. But gas is a fossil fuel and one of the main contributors to climate change.
That’s why we’re working on ways of ‘balancing the grid’, which means shifting energy use from peak times to quieter times like overnight. Here are a few of the ways we’re doing that:
Peak Save – we invited 200,000 of our customers to join the national programme that encourages people to cut energy use in peak hours. This is especially important in winter, when the risk of power cuts is high.
Demand Side Response – DSR is a term for clever tech that schedules energy use to quieter times on the grid, giving people cheaper and greener energy. Our first DSR feature – called SmartCharge – has just launched for EV drivers.
REbalance – our advanced software platform can connect devices and batteries in thousands of homes to create ‘virtual power plants’. This means we can store excess energy when there’s a surplus on the grid – and then release it back when demand is high.
Want to play your own part in changing the UK’s energy story? British Gas has all kinds of ways to help you go greener at home and shrink your carbon footprint. And lots of them are easier and cheaper than you might think too.