Prices of natural gas have been rising due a 'perfect storm' of incidents, according to a top energy expert.

It comes after a 250% leap in gas wholesale price causing energy tariffs to rise, and four energy companies into collapse.

Now an expert from Keele University has shared her concerns about the infrastructure of energy systems in the UK and that the problem is not set to go away.

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Dr Sharon George is the course director for the MSc Environmental Sustainability and Green Technology programme as well as a senior lecturer at the university.

She said: "We have been seeing prices shooting up since the start of the year with a massive increase since August.

"It is linked with certain events such as a limited supply from Russia and a fire on the electric line between France and England. The whole thing has been a perfect storm of conditions since the start of the year.

"European stockpiles have been lower than usual as well as the wind has been lower than average and a planned maintenance shutdown meaning we are likely to carry on seeing supply problems for some time."

The CO2 gas that there are currently shortages of is often produced as a byproduct of the manufacture of ammonia. However due to two fertiliser plants being shut down.

This has an impact on meat production as well as food storage.

Dr George added: "We are seeing the thread of a looming crisis of food shortages. The closure of the two major fertiliser plants means that so many industries are going to be impacted.

"For example, you cannot slaughter pigs or chickens as CO2 is an essential part of the process. This causes animal welfare issues as livestock are not being moved on from farms.

"There is also the issue with food packing and fire extinguishers. That when combined with the shortage of HGV drives that we are currently undergoing has resulted in this perfect storm of bad luck. The price hike caused by these shortages will be a major risk to the most vulnerable in society.

"The most frightening thing is the uncertainty in the market that this is causing. We really need to be taking our energy security more seriously."

The environmental concerns have also been shared by Dr George, who has highlighted that the UK is set to host a major climate conference in Scotland later this year, COP26.

She added: "There is a fossil fuel supplement that is, unfortunately, going into COP26 in November. There needs to be more planning.

"The whole incident had fundamentally underlined a need for greater security to UK energy. We need to be thinking about storage in a more sustainable way.

"I think Brexit made the push to self-reliance more urgent. It has highlighted the importance of producing our own energy but we have to consider the move towards more renewable energy.

"But the people who are most vulnerable will not be able to afford massive hikes to their energy bill. People will struggle."

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