Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Is Shale Gas the Future?

One of the topics I speak on most in the house is energy. From Britain's energy security to fuel poverty I believe it is a topic which will dominate over the next decade.

I could not make a speech in the recent Energy Bill debate as it was oversubscribed, and given that I speak so often in the House the Speaker fairly decided to call others to speak instead. The many questions and debates which the Bill has sparked are really interesting - and it is vital we get the right answers:
  • Is there too much, or too little, focus on renewables?
  • Is coal a thing of the past or a legitimate future option?
  • Can carbon capture change the energy equation?
  • Are we right to rely on gas in the short term?
  • What is the future of newer renewables like tidal power?
  • How much can and should we rely upon Nuclear power?
  • Should the state continue to subsidise commercial biomass on domestic timber?
  • What chance is there that the lights will go out by 2018?
The truth is, the answers to many of those questions are from easy. One of the biggest new developments in the energy market is Shale Gas. It is a new form of gas which some experts believe could be in abundance in the United Kingdom. Shale Gas has transformed the American energy market with many hailing it as the holy grail of new energy. Some however warn that the Shale gas revoultion of the States can not be repeated here. You can read of a short BBC article about Shale Gas for yourself HERE

Having looked at the evidence I myself am a big supporter of shale gas and have spoken repeatedly in support of it in the House of Commons. It has not just brought down domestic energy prices but it has genuinely changed the industrial prospects of the USA; this new cheaper energy is one of the biggest reason why the US has been able to remain competitive.

I believe the latest Energy Bill contains a good blend of short term resolution of our energy needs, with a correct desire to continue decarbonise over time. I am a committed environmentalist but this Energy Bill of Ed Davey's does, I believe, create a healthy balance. The Chancellor has also recently made it easier for business to put shale gas into that mix which I believe will help even further.