United Kingdom Onshore Oil and Gas (UKOOG) senior adviser Corin Taylor has argued that environmental campaigners are ignoring the importance of gas to the UK and overlooking the energy security, economic and environmental benefits of a domestic source of gas.
Writing in The Independent, he said campaigners disregard the expert evidence that properly regulated shale gas production is safe.
Mr Taylor said this is why almost 10 different fracking moratorium proposals – from the UK to California, South Africa and New Zealand – have been rejected in the last few months.
He listed five main ways natural gas supports modern life:
- Heat Gas accounts for around 80% of domestic, commercial and industrial heating, with 84% of homes heated by gas. Per unit of energy, gas is around a third the price of electricity, and so it will remain an important heating source for a long time to come.
- Electricity More than a quarter of the UK’s electricity is generated from gas. Gas-fired power stations are able to run continuously or as flexible back-up for intermittent sources of electricity such as wind and solar. Until large-scale electricity storage is developed, it’s hard to have renewables without gas.
- Food Natural gas is a key component of nitrogen fertiliser, which is applied to around three-quarters of British farmland to help produce food.
- Consumer goods It is hard to find a manufactured product where natural gas has not been used at some point in the production process. One of the most common processes is the “cracking” of ethane into ethylene, which is then used as a building block for everyday products such as food packaging, textiles, adhesives, tyres and window frames.
- Transport Compared with diesel, natural gas-powered vehicles emit less CO2 and fewer harmful air pollutants and are quieter. Reading now has a fleet of CNG-powered buses and there is great potential to expand the number of buses and trucks powered by natural gas rather than diesel.
Mr Taylor said shale gas is also not a threat to renewables: “Gas is mainly a heating fuel, while renewables are mainly used to generate electricity. So they perform different functions in the overall energy system.”
With regard to safety, Mr Torin said a large number of independent reviews in the UK – including from the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering, Public Health England, Professor MacKay and Dr Stone, Water UK, and the Chartered Institute of Water and Environmental Management – have concluded that environmental and health risks from shale production are low in a properly regulated industry.