It’s cold up north

With energy price rises once again making headlines I feel compelled to chip in with some UK climate data and its bearing on the social justice debate of charging northern Scots more for their gas than the southern English.

The chart shows average temperatures from 23 UK met office weather stations since 1933. On this chart, the south (Southampton) is at latitude 50˚ and the north (Shetland Islands) is at 60˚. The north has been on average 5˚C colder than the south over the 80 year period. The further north you go in the UK, the colder it gets. This has a very meaningful impact on energy bills and spreading energy poverty. How on Earth can Ofgem sanction higher price hikes for the already freezing Scots?

Average maximum daily temperatures (Tmax) for 23 UK met office weather stations. A map showing the locations of the weather stations is below the fold. Data from UK met office.

Jody Harrison of the Scottish Herald reports:

British Gas has announced it is to increase its average electricity bills by 10.4% and gas tariffs by 8.4% in the latest blow to family finances. However, due to the costs of using the different electricity grids in the UK, customers living north of Perth will suffer an average rise of 11.2% – the biggest in the UK – while those in the south of Scotland will endure an average increase of 9.5%. The smallest rise is a 6.8% increase in the south-west of England.

Scotland produces a surplus of electricity that is exported to England. We also produce a surplus of oil and gas, also exported to England. Whilst setting differential energy price rises may be outside of politics the impact is a gift to the Scottish Nationalists. Cameron should summon the CEOs of the utilities and the leaders of Ofgem to Downing Street to explain their actions post haste.

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9 Responses to It’s cold up north

  1. G. Watkins says:

    Wow, who knows that in the sunny south or even rainy Wales. My son spent 7 years in Aberdeen which I have visited often. Two coats colder than Cardiff.
    Never mind, things will get better when wee Alec has his wind turbines all over the highlands.:-)

  2. Hi Euan,

    I like the latitude vs temperature chart.

    “How on Earth can Ofgem sanction higher price hikes for the already freezing Scots?”

    What are the political inputs to the decision? More political clout in England than Scotland? Or is it just an engineering call?


    • Euan Mearns says:

      Dave, I doubt there are any political inputs. Clueless Ofgem regulators being easily swayed by a technical argument. But I do smell a rat somewhere. Energy prices have become a political football in the UK this last couple of weeks. Who stands to gain from a decision to raise prices more in the SNP heartland?

      The Temperature – Lat chart is very interesting. Clive Best and I should have a post on this soon. E

  3. Luís says:

    Vote YES in 2014.

  4. Hugh Sharman says:

    OFGEM should have been among the first on the bonfire of useless, expensive, Blair-era Quangos, post-2010 election and replaced with a much smaller agency dedicated to consumer interests, with prosecuting powers. What are its 800+ employees doing? They certainly look after their own very well – and with so many “chiefs” The perfect case of Parkinson’s Law.

    And yes! politically cloth-eared just one year ahead of that vote in October 2014, providing easy ammunition and useful soundbites for Alex Salmond.

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