EXTRACTING natural gas from shale rock should be part of the UK’s energy policy – despite widespread opposition to the process known as fracking – according to experts.
However, their report, out today, warns it would be risky to assume gas bills will fall or that there are extensive resources of shale gas.
And the Grantham Institute on Climate Change and the Environment says the gas-fired power stations can only play a significant role in generating electricity beyond 2030 if they are fitted with technology to trap and store their carbon emissions.
Chancellor George Osborne has provoked controversy with moves that signalled a new “dash for gas”, including proposing tax relief for shale gas exploitation and a gas generation strategy backing use of the fossil fuel for electricity. Those championing shale gas claim it may provide large supplies of gas, which could reduce the price and provide energy security through domestic production.
But critics fear the process of fracturing shale rock with high-pressure liquid to release the gas risks causing earthquakes and pollution of water supplies, and that gas wells could affect house prices. There are also concerns that a continuing reliance on gas will make it harder and more expensive to meet climate-change goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.