Of course, we agree that it is important to invest in renewable sources of energy. However, investment in shale gas does not necessarily come at the expense of investment in renewable energy and it’s not a case of one or the other.
Most experts believe that the UK should have a mix of energy sources but should do more to reduce carbon emissions1. In 2013, renewables accounted for just over 5% of the UK’s overall energy – including heating, transport and electricity – so natural gas will still be needed for some time as the share of renewables grows2.
Stephen Tindale, the former director of Greenpeace, said in May 2014 that climate campaigners should support fracking for shale gas. He says that the reason for this is that the use of shale gas would enable the UK to reduce the burning of coal.3
In a 2012 report, the energy analysts at international investment bank Citigroup questioned assumptions that gas and renewables will compete with each other in electricity production. They said that the shale gas industry will actually be dependent on the broader use of wind and solar for its future. That’s because gas will be priced out of the conventional and coal-dominated market in the short term, but will then be required to fill in the gaps as wind and solar are used more widely, and coal generation is shut down.4
In the US, wind and solar have grown quickly, alongside the shale gas boom. Over the last decade, for instance, wind generation has increased more than ten-fold.5
However quickly we move to renewables for electricity generation, gas will be needed for heating. Natural gas accounts for around 80% of the UK’s domestic and business heating needs6, with 83% of homes heated by this energy resource in 2013.7
Professor Richard Selley from Imperial College London said: “You may also be interested to know that renewable energy, solar, wind and batteries for hybrid cars, etc. all use rare earth minerals. 80% of the world’s supply comes from Northern Mongolia from two huge opencast mines that can be seen from space satellites. These minerals are mined, refined, and shipped all around the world. Some of the elements used in renewables, such as cadmium, are so toxic that when no longer used, have to be disposed of in a manner akin to nuclear waste disposal. Furthermore, 80% of the UK’s homes have access to gas for cooking and heating. To switch to using electricity from the renewable energy sources would necessitate reconfiguring the National Power Grid at crippling expense.”
5 US Energy Information Administration, Electric Power Monthly, September 2014, Table 1.1.A. Net Generation from Renewable Sources: Total (All Sectors), 2004-July 2014 http://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/epm_table_grapher.cfm?t=epmt_1_1_a
Thank you to everyone who submitted questions similar to the one above. Questions we have received which are similar are shown below:
- "Why's the government investing massive public money into searching for fuels which, if burned, will further push Climate Change from Critical to Catastrophic? Why not invest in Renewables like Germany? - As most people in the UK say they want."
- Why are you doing it?
- Why fracking when the move across the county is to the development of "renewable" energy sources, not to the further use of fossil fuels, a move back into the past?
- Why don't we just use solar energy to power the country?
- Why is it better than solar or wind?
- What effect will this have now and the future? Is there not any alternatives i.e wind turbines.
- Shouldn't we be focusing on renewable energy instead? It's too dangerous.
- Shouldn't we be looking into renewable resources rather than using up finite fuels? Frack off
- Why the hell would risk contaminating the world when we could invest in green energy?
- Why ruin the earth? Use the sun.
- Why not research further and invest further in green alternatives first?
- It is happening in Lincolnshire? Will it happen without public approval? Why can't greener energy be used?
- America is an example of fracking gone wrong with taps igniting. Why can't we explore renewable energy sources?
- Why don't you get everyone to put solar panels on their roofs instead?
- What's wrong with nuclear energy? Why can't we use alternative sources?
- Is poison shale gas exhausted after a life span - and what is the life span at a particular site. Is shale gas preferred over cold fusion? And why?