Natural Gas and the Energy Trilemma: Energy Security, Energy Affordability, and Energy Sustainability in the United Kingdom?

Dr Helena Ivanov

In this report we examine the role of natural gas in the Energy Trilemma, focusing specifically on the situation in the United Kingdom. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, many countries found themselves in an energy crisis, partly due to their overreliance on Russian gas. The UK, while not directly dependent on Russia for gas, was nevertheless hit quite badly, due to certain structural reasons within its energy supply system.

Thus, we examined the UK energy system, focusing specifically on its implications for the Energy Trilemma – understood as comprising Energy Affordability, Energy Sustainability and Energy Security. We have shown ways in which the UK could improve its system, especially when it comes to affordability and security.

To create effective policy recommendations, we have also conducted public opinion polling with a representative sample of voters across the UK. In the polling, we examined people’s views on gas, how informed they are about the current energy system in the UK, and how the nation balances the three key priorities encompassed in the Energy Trilemma. Along with renewable energy sources, British voters strongly support the use of gas, as well as an expanded role for diversifying gas supply within the nation’s energy mix. In the end, we arrived at the following policy recommendations:


• The UK should aim to diversify its gas supply, given its current overreliance on Norway and, to a lesser degree, autocratic countries like Qatar.


• Priority should be given to the UK improving its energy self-sufficiency through developing its own domestic gas resources and diversifying its supply towards friendly and democratic LNG exporters such as the United States and Australia.


• Given the important role of gas in supporting Britain’s energy transition, more sustainable sources of new gas supply, such as those with a lower CO2 content or zero emissions properties, are preferable.


• The UK should address its shortage of gas storage infrastructure and liquified national gas (LNG) import capacity which currently leave it vulnerable to supply shocks, such as those seen during the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.


In addition, in challenging and difficult times like the ones in which we live now, the UK Government should also focus on more efficient use of energy and start to deploy information campaigns which could inform the public about the current energy system and ways to more efficiently use energy.


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