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  • April 26th, 2013

Shale gas in the UK could help secure domestic energy supplies but may not bring down prices

MP’s have reported Shale gas in the UK could help secure domestic energy supplies but may not bring down prices.

The Energy and Climate Change Committee warns conditions are different in Britain as the US boom in shale gas has brought energy prices tumbling and revitalised heavy industry.

UK’s shale gas developers will face technological uncertainties with different geology says the MP’s.

They also add public opinion may also be more skeptical.

The UK is a more densely populated landscape and shale gas operations will be closer to settlements as a consequence.

Cash sweeteners

The MPs believe operators will have to overcome potentially tighter regulations.

The report concludes that it is too soon to say whether shale gas will achieve US-style levels of success as the extent of recoverable resources in the UK is also unknown.

The MPs argue that this means the Treasury cannot afford to base the UK’s energy strategy on the expectation of cheap British shale gas.

They have urged the Government to stop dithering over energy policy and to ensure there is a system to rebut what may arise over the environmental impacts of shale gas.

They applaud the Government’s decision to offer cash incentives to people near shale gas facilities.

Success with shale gas will reduce dependence on imports and increase tax revenues however they say there is a downside. If it takes off shale gas will shatter the UK’s statutory climate change targets. This is unless the Government moves much faster with carbon capture and storage technology.

The Energy and Climate Change Committee has said it is still too soon to call whether shale gas will provide the silver bullet needed to solve our energy problems.

A similar revolution here as seen in the the US where shale gas has seen a dramatic fall in domestic gas prices is not certain.

This does little to back the case for a UK shale gas revolution.

Front and centre

It’s simply impossible to keep global warming below 2C and burn all known fossil fuel reserves – let alone exploit unconventional reserves like shale gas.

In other words, the climate impacts of new fossil fuel developments must be front and centre of any decision on shale gas, not a secondary concern.

But the government’s chief energy scientist has warned that the UK would need to increase its nuclear fleet four-fold or its wind energy 20-fold to decarbonise heavy industry.

Both these options appear improbable therefore the Government will most likely continue to afford gas a prominent role in its energy strategy

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