Energy strategy in Britain has three big goals; keeping the lights on, keeping the bills down, and moving to a clean energy future.
We need to meet the UK’s demand for energy, using clean and low carbon energy sources if we are to continue to combat climate change and grow the economy – a point emphasised in the recent report from the independent Task Force on Shale Gas.
This isn’t something which will simply happen overnight, it will take time as we start to move to more renewable and low carbon energy sources. There is a big challenge in how we get from where we are today – dependent on coal and gas for over 50% of our energy – to a low carbon future. Moving from coal to gas would make a huge contribution to reducing our carbon footprint, and is the ‘bridge’ we need for many years to come.
The anti-fracking lobby seem to think there is a bottomless pit of bill-payers’ money to fund renewable energy generation. There isn’t, and even if there was, we would still need gas – as a reliable source of electricity when the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow.
Even as our reliance on fossil fuels for generating electricity reduces, we will still need to use gas for heating and cooking in our homes and for producing products including soap, paint, clothes and plastic.
The Task Force on Shale Gas was clear about this, stating that “it is not feasible to create a renewable and low carbon industry in the short term in the UK that can meet the UK’s energy needs as a whole.”
This means that gas will continue to play a big part in our energy mix for years to come and that’s why the Government is looking into the opportunity of using home-grown shale gas supplies instead of relying on overseas imports.
If we are going to make this work, we need to make sure that it is entirely safe, protecting the environment and minimising the impact on local people.
The UK has over 50 years’ experience of safely and successfully producing gas in this country, both for onshore and offshore. We will be using all our expert knowledge as we explore for shale gas.
Shale gas will bolster our energy security and provide jobs and financial security for communities and families across the UK. An independent study says there could be 65,000 new jobs from a successful UK shale industry.
In 2003, we were a net exporter of gas. By 2030 we expect to be importing close to 75% of the gas we consume. By making the most of our home-grown gas we can safeguard our own domestic supply whilst also cutting our carbon emissions.
There’s also a huge financial benefit for local communities. We are working with industry to make sure local people, communities and local authorities keep some of the income from shale gas development.
Operators will pay communities £100,000 for each exploration well site plus 1 per cent of production revenue, worth £5m-£10m, to be used as the community sees fit.
It’s an inconvenient truth for those who don’t want to acknowledge the economic and environmental benefits that Shale gas could bring, never mind the crucial role it could play in ensuring we have sufficient and reliable gas supplies.
People quite rightly expect Government to explore all the options to deliver on our goals of keeping the bills low, the lights on, and moving towards a greener future.