In the UK, gargantuan (as in wow!#$) amounts of cheap energy were discovered a month ago, yet it seemingly hasn’t changed the political landscape. (Or, then again, maybe it did? I gather no one in the UK government seems to be admitting it, but from afar, it looks like a lot of clunker UK policies have not-coincidentally got the boot in the last month.) Overtly, it’s been the gift no one wanted to open… but possibly a few in power are well aware of what’s under wraps and it is influencing policies?
Back in August 2011, the experts at the The British Geological Survey team thought the country only had 150bn cubic meters of shale gas. Then on Sept 22 a group called Cuadrilla announced that they’d found the odd 5,660 bn cubic metres under Lancashire.
The worldwide, big picture: the 1700’s were fueled by wood, the 1800’s were the age of coal, the 1900’s were all about oil, and it looks like the 2000’s will be powered by shale gas. Yes it’s that big.
The cost of gas and electricity has become jaw-droppingly expensive. For millions of people on low or declining incomes, especially the elderly, heating makes up an excessively large chunk of their outgoings. As politicians fall over each other to woo the so-called “squeezed middle”, this has also become a key Westminster battleground.
Indeed in Mr Huhne’s opinion, British householders are enjoying “relatively good electricity and gas prices”. Well, that’s a relief. Most of us thought we were being royally ripped off, not least by the tax on energy to pay for useless windmills so that Mr Huhne can parade his green credentials around Europe.
Later, I listened to a BBC radio programme on shale gas and that sinking feeling about our energy future suddenly lifted. There is enough gas in the Lancashire site alone – some 200 trillion cubic feet – to meet the UK’s fuel needs for decades.
But there seems to be a conspiracy to keep this from the public. The greens are determined to kill off shale gas because it is not a renewable source. The big energy companies don’t want to know and the Government has so far been lukewarm about the prospect.
Shale gas could be the solution to so many of our nation’s problems, from cutting the fiscal deficit to reducing the burden on consumers. A bright future of abundant, cheap energy beckons
This is not an energy source that needs billions in research and subsidies just to make it “competitive”.
Matt Ridley points out the US already uses it:
The impact of shale gas in America is already huge. Gas prices have decoupled from oil prices and are half what they are in Europe. Chemical companies, which use gas as a feedstock, are rushing back from the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Mexico. Cities are converting their bus fleets to gas. Coal projects are being shelved; nuclear ones abandoned.
The Sunday Times is getting the gist of things:
For Britain, the implications are profound. The arrival of commercial shale gas on world markets could make nuclear power and offshore wind look very expensive. Dieter Helm, professor of energy policy at Oxford University, believes a rapid switch to electricity generation by gas, which has about half the emissions of coal, could save the taxpayer billions, cut household bills and bring about faster falls in CO2 emissions.
“Our inquiry found no evidence to support the main concern, that UK water supplies would be put at risk,” said Tim Yeo, the Conservative MP who chairs the committee. Greens were aghast.
Matt Ridley: Gas against wind
Which would you rather have in the view from your house? A thing about the size of a domestic garage, or eight towers twice the height of Nelson’s column with blades noisily thrumming the air. The energy they can produce over ten years is similar: eight wind turbines of 2.5-megawatts (working at roughly 25% capacity) roughly equal the output of an average Pennsylvania shale gas well (converted to electricity at 50% efficiency) in its first ten years.
Difficult choice? Let’s make it easier. The gas well can be hidden in a hollow, behind a hedge. The eight wind turbines must be on top of hills, because that is where the wind blows, visible for up to 40 miles. And they require the construction of new pylons marching to the towns; the gas well is connected by an underground pipe.
Unpersuaded? Wind turbines slice thousands of birds of prey in half every year, including white-tailed eagles in Norway, golden eagles in California, wedge-tailed eagles in Tasmania. There’s a video on Youtube of one winging a griffon vulture in Crete. According to a study in Pennsylvania, a wind farm with eight turbines would kill about a 200 bats a year. The pressure wave from the passing blade just implodes the little creatures’ lungs. You and I can go to jail for harming bats or eagles; wind companies are immune.
Still can’t make up your mind? The wind farm requires eight tonnes of an element called neodymium, which is produced only in Inner Mongolia, by boiling ores in acid leaving lakes of radioactive tailings so toxic no creature goes near them.
Not convinced? The gas well requires no subsidy…. read the full article at Matts site.
BACKGROUND on Shale Gas thanks to Matt Ridley and the GWPS
May 2011 Report: Shale Gas Shock Challenges Climate and Energy Policies
UPDATE: Connolly in comments — Fuel poverty will kill 2,700
The green madness kills. An interim independent report predicts that 2,700 people will die this winter as a consequence of fuel poverty, a figure greater than the number killed in traffic accidents each year