Breakthroughs in extracting gas trapped in rocks should help Europe reduce its carbon emissions and boost demand for environmentally friendly microgeneration technologies, such as combined heat and power, energy experts have predicted.
Although the recession has produced the first dip in demand for gas across Europe since 1960, the emergence of new supplies of shale gas from the US, Europe and China will drive down gas prices and ease worries over future availability, experts believe.
“Gas will remain a prominent part of our energy mix for at least the next 20 years,” said Graham Meeks, director of the Combined Heat and Power Association.
“Most of Europe has not yet experienced the ‘dash for gas’ we have already been through in the UK. Coal is still king in many countries.”
He added: “There is now a growing trend towards use of emerging gas supplies that will keep the price stable and extend the future life of gas and gas consuming technologies.”
Easier access to affordable gas is expected to increase the market for microgeneration technologies, such as Combined Heat and Power.
“CHP is a very good each-way bet, as it can also make use of the emerging renewable gas supplies,” Mr Meeks last month told a meeting of the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers’ combined heat and power group.
Attendees at the CIBSE event also discussed the fact that electricity prices were set to rocket over the next 15 years because of the need to double investment in generating capacity.
This should make the economic argument for local, microgeneration technologies such as CHP and photovoltaics (PV) more attractive.
However, delegates agreed that the role of government funding would be crucial.