An era of cheap, abundant gas could be on the way, as new report confirms risk of earthquakes and water contamination are minimal.
In what could be the most significant step in Britain’s energy security since the widespread exploitation of North Sea oil, hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking’ has been deemed safe in a new report produced in joint by the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society.
The Final Report on Shale Gas Extraction was produced for the Government’s Chief Scientific Advisor by the two aforementioned organisations to “to review the scientific and engineering evidence and consider whether the risks associated with hydraulic fracturing (often termed ‘fracking’) as a means to extract shale gas could be managed effectively in the UK.”
In summary, the report concludes:
- The health, safety and environmental risks can be managed effectively in the UK.
- Seismic risks are low.
- Water requirements can be managed sustainably.
Half the price, a quarter of the emissions
The price of gas has been driven up recently due to our increasing reliance on foreign imports. At the energy summit in May, attended by the Prime Minister and Energy Secretary Ed Davey, but strangely not by Cuadrilla Resources (they weren’t invited), it was said by experts that the amount of gas potentially extractable from shale was smaller than previously predicted, which could make it economically unviable.
Now that future drilling will take place, we should find out in the coming months just how much cheap, low-carbon energy we are sitting on. Shale seems to be a win-win for everyone – it burns twice as efficiently as coal, and only gives off half the amount of C02 – meaning it only emits 1/4 of the amount of carbon compared to coal in relative terms. Even James Lovelock says we should be ‘going mad’ for shale gas.