UK shale gas would be lower carbon than imported gas chief government climate change advisers announced last week. The announcement revealed shale gas extracted from the UK would be a lower carbon form of fuel than fuel imported from thousands of miles away, from places such as Qatar. In a new report from the Committee of Climate Change (CCC) shale gas is named as a part of the UK energy mix. Although not a key part it says shale gas should be used as a viable substitute for imported gas to meet the heating demands, and also as a back up for intermittent renewable technologies including wind power.
There is plenty of controversy surrounding the fossil fuel, which is obtained by a process known as fracking. Water is blasted beneath the Earth’s surface to force shale gas out of the ground, which is trapped in pockets underground – this process is known as hydraulic fracturing. In the UK alone it is estimated that there’s enough shale beneath the UK to heat homes for over 100 years. But there are concerns from environmentalists that excessive fracking could have an impact on the surrounding environment, including a risk of small earthquakes, contamination of drinking water and methane escaping during the drilling process.
If the processing of shale gas is correctly regulated it will have lower emissions than imports, including liquefied natural gas which is imported to the UK from thousands of miles abroad. In line with the UK’s renewable energy target for 2020 green power from offshore wind farms, nuclear power and more will remain a key strategy, and in the future will make up the bulk of the power sector.