Shale gas report admits fracking is just a stop-gap to a low-carbon future

by Search Gate staff. Published Wed 16 Sep 2015 00:01, Last updated: 2015-09-15
Government revenue should be used for renewables and carbon capture
Government revenue should be used for renewables and carbon capture

A fracking industry-funded report has warned Energy Ministers that the UK’s “all-out drive” for shale gas cannot hinder the development of renewable energy if the nation is to achieve its binding climate commitments.

In its third report, the Task Force on Shale Gas said Government energy revenue streams should be ring-fenced to invest in research and innovation in renewables and low carbon energy generation, storage and distribution.

The recommendations were contained within the latest study, published today, which examines how the development of a UK shale industry would affect the nation’s overall climate impact.

The report’s overarching finding is that shale gas has a role to play as an interim baseload energy source in the UK energy mix over the medium term. Gas will be needed for several decades, for energy, electricity, heating, and industry. But the paper points out that it must not prohibit or slow the development of an effective renewables and low carbon energy industry.

To ensure the longer-term adoption of renewables and low carbon energy, the Task Force is calling on Government to expedite the development of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), and measures should be taken to steer Government cash towards the green energy industry.

Lord Chris Smith, chair of the Task Force on Shale Gas said: “Our conclusion from all the evidence we’ve seen is clear. The UK will only meet its binding climate commitments by moving in the long term to renewable and low carbon energy sources.”

“Nonetheless, from the evidence it is apparent that renewables cannot meet the UK’s short term energy needs. Gas must play a role over the medium term. The relative climate impact of shale gas is similar to that of conventional gas and less than that of liquefied natural gas (LNG). It is also much better than coal.”

“Gas will be needed for several decades to come. But we make two strong recommendations to make sure this happens in the right way. First, there must be immediate progress in developing carbon capture and storage for gas-fired power stations and industrial plant. And second, we recommend that the Government should deploy revenue derived from a developed shale gas industry to investment in R&D; and innovation in CCS and low carbon energy generation, storage and distribution.”

The recommendations follow months of academic review, input from industry, experts, campaigners and relevant associations. The Task Force concludes that, if properly regulated, implemented and monitored, shale gas should be explored as a potential gas source to meet UK energy needs.

“Everyone has a right to make their own personal decision on the issue of shale gas on the basis of trusted and factual information. The guiding principle of the Task Force remains to provide that information,” said Lord Chris Smith.

“With this third report the Task Force has reviewed evidence, visited shale gas sites and met with experts and communities, all of which has informed our climate change recommendations. We look forward to the public’s response.”

Greenpeace UK energy and climate campaigner Hannah Martin responded: "Fracking is not a bridge to a low-carbon future but just another cul-de-sac in our efforts to ditch dangerous fossil fuels. Energy analysts say that if fracking gets started at all in the UK, it still won't be fully developed for another decade, by which time we should be well on our way to a fossil fuel-free energy future.

"And this is before considering the climate impacts of any methane leaking from wells and pipes, a problem which the US shale industry is still grappling with. If our Government is serious about our climate commitments, then they should be doing the opposite of what they're doing and give proper backing to truly clean and popular energy sources like wind and solar."

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