It is clear that fracking carries a number of risks, environmentally it will still result in large quantities of CO2 emissions and for the UK it has an extremely limited lifespan. Perhaps the Government should consider investing the time and money that they plan to invest in fracking, into renewable energy?
In the UK our need to find alternative ways of creating energy is critical. In June 2013 MSN News highlighted the urgency of the problem in respect of our electrical supply: ‘The UK's ability to produce enough electricity for the nation has been declining. Ofgem predicts that the amount of spare electricity production capacity could fall to as little as 2% by 2015. This will mean more likelihood of supplies running low enough to cause blackouts’. In May 2013 The Guardian reported similar issues in respect of our gas supply: ‘Some of Britain's biggest energy suppliers were holding back gas in storage tanks at a time when the market ran into an acute shortage two months ago, triggering a doubling of wholesale prices. The revelations came after claims the UK was within six hours of running out of gas completely on 22 March and will feed rising public and political anger over soaring power bills and previous allegations of market manipulation’. Make no mistake the problem is serious, and although we can import to supplement any shortfalls, this will come at a cost, a cost that we have little control over. If we want to keep our country ‘running’ and as numerous politicians have put it ‘ ensure that the lights do not go out’, we need to find alternative ways of creating energy and find them quickly.
Fracking is a method of extracting natural gas and oil from shale, which is a technique that has been used for decades in the United States. ‘Horizontal drilling (along with traditional vertical drilling) allows for the injection of highly pressurized fracking fluids into the shale area. This creates new channels within the rock from which natural gas is extracted at higher than traditional rates. This drilling process can take up to a month, while the drilling teams delve more than a mile into the Earth’s surface. After which, the well is cased with cement to ensure groundwater protection, and the shale is hydraulically fractured with water and other fracking fluids. – Source: http://www.what-is-fracking.com/ The video below provides an animated demonstration of the fracking process:
So how much shale gas could we expect to extract in the UK? The answer appears to be inconsistent depending on what you read, with estimates suggesting that shale gas could meet demand in the UK for anything between 25 and 40 years – According to the Guardian in June 2013:
‘Britain is sitting on shale gas deposits that could supply the UK for 25 years, suggests an independent report that ramps up previous estimates for the controversial energy source. New figures published on Thursday by the British Geological Survey (BGS) indicated that the amount of shale resources, mainly sitting under the north of England, will trigger a new dash for gas. BGS published a long-awaited report that suggested an area stretching from Lancashire to Yorkshire and down to Lincolnshire could hold at least 1,300 trillion cubic feet of gas.’
Natural gas when burned produces half the CO2 that coal does when burned (http://blogs.reuters.com) Therefore gas produced through fracking may reduce our need to burn coal, however it will still produce large quantities of CO2, something that does not happen with renewable technologies. If we focus our strategy on renewable energy then this will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the UK and help us reach or 2050 emissions targets. Why waste time and money in extracting shale gas through fracking when surely it would be better to invest this time and money in renewable energy?
There are also concerns particularly in the US about the amount of water used in the fracking process as well as the possibility of contamination of water supplies due to the chemicals used in the process. Recently in the UK fracking has also been attributed to be the cause of a number of small earthquakes. The British Geological Survey reported: ‘On 1 April and 27 May 2011, two earthquakes with magnitudes of 2.3 ML and 1.5 ML were detected in the Blackpool area. These earthquakes were immediately suspected to be linked to hydraulic fracture injections at the Preese Hall well, operated by Cuadrilla Resources Ltd. This well was hydraulically fractured during exploration of a shale gas reservoir in the Bowland basin. As a result of the earthquakes, operations were suspended at PH1 and Cuadrilla Resources commissioned a number of studies into the relationship between the earthquakes and their operations’
It is clear that fracking carries a number of risks, environmentally it will still result in large quantities of CO2 emissions and it has an extremely limited lifespan. Perhaps the Government should consider investing the time and money that they plan to invest in fracking, into renewable energy? Our reliance on fossil fuels has to be addressed urgently. Focussing on extracting shale gas, which is still a fossil fuel, is really a way of avoiding the main issue, something which many politicians appear to be extremely good at!
Please feel free to share this article and other articles on this site with friends, family and colleagues who you think would be interested
Information/opinions posted on this site are the personal views of the author and should not be relied upon by any person or any third party without first seeking further professional advice. Also, please scroll down and read the copyright notice at the end of the blog.