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Britain could import as much as 93 percent of its gas by 2040 – National Grid

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain could be forced to rely on other countries for 93 percent of its gas supplies by 2040 if there is weak economic growth and not enough money made available to support domestic gas production, National Grid said on Tuesday.

Britain currently imports about half of its gas but this figure is already expected to rise as production from domestic reserves dwindles. Gas imports come from Norway, continental Europe, and Qatar in the form of LNG.

The highest import forecast comes under the British grid operator’s “Slow Progression” scenario, one of four potential outcomes detailed on Tuesday.

National Grid compiles report on a variety of future scenarios every year to help it to reach investment decisions on new infrastructure projects and to inform the government.

Under National Grid’s “Gone Green” scenario -- where policies and investments in the power sector are tailored towards long-term environmental goals –- gas imports are expected to rise to 90 percent of supply by 2040.

Under the business as usual, “No progression” scenario imports would rise to 75 percent.

Only the “Consumer Power” scenario showed a reduction in gas imports by 2040, to 30 percent.

Under this scenario, government policies focus on improving the availability of domestic supplies and easing the path for unconventional methods of gas extraction such as shale.

In this scenario, shale gas production in the country could begin in 2021, and provide 32 billion cubic meters a year of gas by 2031. Under the “Gone Green” scenario no shale gas is extracted by 2040.

National Grid also looked at the potential evolution of the country’s electricity system.

Under all scenarios, the report expected the government to stick to its pledge to close coal-fired gas power stations by 2025 unless they are fitted with technology to capture and store emissions.

However, only the “Gone Green” scenario would allow the government to meet its legally binding target to reduce emissions by 80 percent by 2050 compared with 1990 levels.

“2050 is only 34 years away so we need a really strong pathway to get us there … we need to act now,” Marcus Stewart Head of Energy Insights, National Grid, told journalists at a briefing on the report.

Under each of the scenarios, including “Gone Green” the country will miss its 2020 target to meet 15 percent of energy demand from renewable sources.

Britain’s Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Amber Rudd, said last year it was unlikely the country would meet the target by 2020 due to a lack of progress in the heat and transport sectors.

Reporting By Susanna Twidale. Editing by Jane Merriman and Keith Weir

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