So far, fracking hasn't quite taken off in the UK as it has in the United States. Because landowners in Britain don't have the same mineral rights as US landowners—and because Britain's population density means many proposed sites are surrounded by housing—citizens over on that side of the pond have largely seen fracking as all risk, with little reward. In fact, many have wondered whether there's a future for the industry at all.
But the government keeps trying.
Now, UK green energy company Ecotricity is adopting a novel approach to the fight against fracking. For every proposed new drilling site in the UK, Ecotricity is going to submit a planning application for one of its "green gas mills". Utilizing grass and rye from local farmers, sourced from marginal, non-food growing land, processed using anaerobic digestion with the end byproduct being returned to that very same land, this certainly does seem like a more palatable alternative to the threat of earthquakes and aquifer contamination.
Whether Ecotricity can scale its vision to meet Britain's home heating demands remains to be seen, of course. It seems certain, however, that the company will help ignite [sorry!] a healthy debate. Here, founder and CEO Dale Vince sat down with Robert Llewellyn to discuss their plans. Should be interesting to watch this fight play out.