* 3 of 4 scenarios expect gas imports to soar
* Shale gas production could begin in 2021
LONDON, July 5 (Reuters) - Britain could rely on other countries for 93 percent of its gas supplies by 2040 if there is weak economic growth and not enough money available to support domestic gas production, National Grid said on Tuesday.
The import forecast is a part of the British grid operator’s “Slow Progression” scenario, one of four potential scenarios in its “UK Future Energy Scenarios” published on Tuesday.
National Grid compiles report on future scenarios every year to help it to reach investment decisions on new infrastructure projects and to inform the government.
Britain currently imports about half of its gas but this figure is already expected to rise as production from domestic reserves dwindles.
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.
But forecasts for new renewable, gas and nuclear power plants varied widely across the various scenarios.
“We are in the midst of an energy revolution ... against this backdrop it is impossible to forecast a single energy future over the long term,” Marcus Stewart Head of Energy Insights, National Grid, said in the report. (Reporting By Susanna Twidale. Editing by Jane Merriman)