BBC: “Ministers have “completely oversold” the potential of shale gas, energy experts say. Researchers from the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) told the BBC promises of lower prices and greater energy security from UK shale gas were “hype” and “lacking in evidence”.”
“UKERC, an academic consortium covering 30 institutions, has produced a report on the future of gas in the UK.
The Treasury said the potential of shale gas was “too big to ignore”.
The report authors said shale gas – a natural gas that can be drawn from rock through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking – was so early in its infancy it was impossible to know how much could be extracted and at what cost.
But they said it was most unlikely to make a substantial difference to prices or to the security of energy supplies in the UK.
….“It is very frustrating to keep hearing that shale gas is going to solve our energy problems – there’s no evidence for that whatsoever… it’s hype”, Prof Jim Watson, UKERC research director, told BBC News.
“It’s extraordinary that ministers keep making these statements. They clearly want to create a narrative. But we are researchers – we deal in facts, not narratives. And at the moment there is no evidence on how shale gas will develop in the UK.
“Shale gas has been completely oversold. Where ministers got this rhetoric from I have absolutely no idea. It’s very misleading for the public.”
His UKERC colleague Prof Mike Bradshaw cast doubt on plans for a“sovereign wealth fund” from shale gas for the north of England.
“Talk about a bonanza is incredible,” he said. “It hasn’t happened and it might never happen. Even if shale gas does get developed in the north of England, the extra amount of money generated will probably be relatively small – so the fund will be even smaller.”
The researchers said they were not against searching for shale gas, but objected to the rhetoric used by its supporters.
The United States has enjoyed a shale gas boom. But Prof Bradshaw said the future of the UK industry was uncertain because the geology is different; environmental safeguards are stronger, and the industry had not yet persuaded people to host drilling pads in the neighbourhoods.
“There is huge uncertainty about all these things,” he said.
“Only one thing is virtually certain – in Europe shale gas is not going to be a game-changer.”
The group’s report charts a limited future for gas as part of the UK’s electricity system. It says in order to meet Climate Change Act targets, gas-fired power generation will need to have almost completely stopped by 2030.
As UK shale gas is not expected to be produced in substantial quantities until the 2020s, that leaves a small window of opportunity for investors in the industry.
Globally, it says, gas must not be burned for electricity after 2035 if the world is to get on track to avoid dangerous climate change – that is unless new technology is used to capture the CO2 emissions.”