Why Shale Gas Fracking May Never Succeed in the UK

Jeremy Buckingham/CC BY 2.0

Speculation over the ultimate outcome of the UK's contentious energy bill deal continues. Predictably, conservative elements in the ruling coalition used the muddying of waters over CO2 emission reductions to lift a suspension of fracking for shale gas. However, others have argued tha the bill was still a major victory for renewables.

That's a position that would seem to be backed up by Terry Macalister's latest piece over at The Guardian, which suggests that fracking for shale gas in the UK may be little more than a flash in the pan. While politicians may have been seduced by intense industry lobbying, says Macalister, the geological, economic and political context of the UK means it would be very hard to replicate the surge in fracking that has driven energy prices down in the UK:

The geology of the two countries is not similar, and in the UK the technique remains relatively unproven. This is also a densely populated country where landowners do not have the mineral rights that would encourage them to cash in with the shale operators.

In addition, there is the danger that the extraction of shale gas will only encourage usage and help tie Britain into another "dash for gas" that threatens to lock in higher carbon emissions and bust the country's climate change targets.

Add to that the fact that any continuation of the fracking boom in the US will mean UK-based supplies, which face considerable costs and challenges that US-based operations do not, will still have to compete on a global commodity market that will limit their ability to set prices according to cost.

Head on over to The Guardian to read Macalister's full take on the future of shale gas in the UK. And remember, many potential investors will be pondering these very same issues.

It's time we commit to something a little more ambitious.

Tags: Activism | Fracking | Natural Gas | United Kingdom