The government-funded Energy Research Center (UKERC) warns that Downing Street was overselling the benefits of shale gas exploitation, denying the idea that UK could be self-sufficient in gas anytime soon.
A report published this Wednesday by the UKERC stated that the British government’s promise that the exploitation of shale gas would be beneficial, was all hype.
The report comes a year after Prime Minister David Cameron stated that this energy had “real potential to drive energy bills down” and that the country was going “all out for shale.”
Professor Jim Watson, the UKERC director, said, “Where the government has gone wrong is just talking this whole thing up … as if it was going to reduce consumer bills and tackle our energy security problems in a substantial way anytime soon. I think that was very premature. The framing of it was oversold,” reported The Telegraph.
The authors of the report state that the alleged surge of energy prices was not grounded in any serious evidence. On the contrary, the cost benefits in the exploitation of shale gas are more than uncertain. It explains that creating this industry would take at least a decade, and that these efforts would still remain insufficient to bear a significant impact on gas prices.
By that time, global gas consumption will already have peaked, partly due to measures to address global warming warns a second report from UKERC, entitled “A Bridge to a Low-Carbon Future? Modelling the Long-Term Global Potential of Natural Gas.”
Relying on the recent technology of carbon capture and storage (CCS) to postpone that deadline is still quite uncertain, because it is still not known whether the technology is actually viable and commercial, the report goes on to say.
Instead, the report recommends an increase in the number of gas storage facilities, a possibility the government ruled out last year, claiming that the country’s supplies were secure enough. And yet, UK has one of the lowest storage capacities of Europe, and UK became a net importer of gas in 2004.
However the government decided not to pay attention to the criticisms, announcing instead on the same day new plans for a National College training people for the onshore oil and gas industry. The energy minister, Matt Hancock, declared that shale gas was “an enormous opportunity for the UK and one that we simply can’t afford to miss out on,” arguing the industry would create thousands of jobs.