Sunday, 1 July 2012

Should we be worrying about Shale Gas?

I've been aware of "Fracking" and the potential huge energy resource it could release for some time.
It seemed a very abstract subject as it was happening in other countries (significantly in the USA) and it had been banned in this country pending a report by the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering. Link to report details.
I have to admit to disliking President George W Bush, the rush to invade Iraq seemed to be less about Al-Qaeda and more about oil...Obama has (with the help of technology & rising energy costs) managed to reduce oil imports year on year.
Fascinating you say. What's this got to do with solar energy?

I came across a very interesting article Matt Ridley's article. which states the real opposition to shale gas is political not scientific. And nowhere is this politically motivated opposition stronger than in the renewables industry which fears that if the truth about shale gas ever gets out – that it's cheap, abundant AND more environmentally friendly than wind or solar – it will soon be put out of business.

Whoa there....Have I just made a 25 year investment in a technology which will be over taken by a cheap fuel that's just waiting to be pumped to the surface?

Probably not. All of the agencies and their reports are incredibly reticent about the amount of shale gas which may be exploitable in the UK. Even if it turns out we have more gas than rugby players after a curry night, we need to be aware of the one argument from which shale gas cannot run away from which is also the one with global, not local, implications.

Quite simply, if Europe invests in shale gas in a big way, it will be almost impossible for the bloc to meet its medium-term climate targets.The numbers only stack up if shale gas burning is associated with carbon capture and storage, something which Matt Ridley's article fails to acknowledge.
I don't think it's going to happen any time soon. However,it's comforting for future generations that we have a significant energy reserve underneath our feet, which technology will eventually allow us to use. 
Alternatively, with the pace of development from PV manufacturers we'll have all the energy we need from the sun....




Icarus
Twitter @solaricarus

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