Britain?s New Energy Revolution

Source:  CCNet:  The Climate Policy Network

 We used to regard natural gas as a transition fuel. We now understand that it is in fact a destination fuel. –British energy minister Charles Hendry, Standpoint Magazine, April 2012

 To the dismay of the Greens and their political, business and media allies, there are signs that Her Majesty’s Government is slowly turning back towards a new dash for gas, the UK has reserves for centuries to come, and exploiting them now would end the recession almost at a stroke. –Alan Jones, 3000 Quads, 29 March 2012

Let me conclude: Can the green lobby win the shale gas argument over environmental objections? I don?t think it can. Ten or 20 years ago it could have won when governments were willing to burn billions, but the economic climate has changed, we?re facing the biggest crisis in decades. No government in the world would give up this opportunity, not even the British government, which is very green indeed. I don?t think they have a leg to stand on when it comes to shale. People will realize that this energy is far less impacting on environments than most other forms of energy. Even wind farms are much more opposed than coal or nuclear power plants. Shale shouldn?t have any big problem and in all likelihood the government will grasp it with both hands. –Benny Peiser, Natural Gas Europe, 25 October 2011

[Britain’s new energy policy] looks like a victory for the ‘gas is the future’ camp – who have been arguing vociferously over the last six months that wind power and other renewables are expensive and unreliable, and that we need a new ‘dash for gas’ to keep the lights on and energy prices down. –Robin Webster, Carbon Brief, 20 March 2012

When Chris Huhne was forced to remove himself from the Department of Energy, to fight criminal charges over an alleged speeding transgression, Britain?s green lobby took a body blow. Huhne was the most important advocate in government of the need to speed up wind power. His Lib Dem successor Ed Davey, with the support of the Chancellor, George Osborne, looks to have radically changed course. In a little noticed announcement ? slipped out on March 17 in the weekend before the Budget ? Davey made it clear he has a different view. Davey let it be known that he intends to deal with the potential for power shortages, brown-outs and cuts by advancing a new gas generation strategy which will be legislated for in the Queen?s speech. –Alex Brummer, Daily Mail, 27 March 2012

A controversial method for extracting shale gas should resume now the potential dangers are better known, the UK?s Environment Agency has said. Speaking at a conference earlier this week, Tony Grayling, head of climate change and communities at the Environment Agency, told delegates exploratory fracking should resume after the investigation. An Environment Agency spokeswoman told BusinessGreen Grayling’s comments indicated he was happy the current regulatory regime would prove sufficient to cope with exploration, but this may be reviewed should shale gas take off in the UK. —Business Green, 30 March 2012

Britain may be sitting on a gold mine of cheap, abundant and comparatively clean energy that could supply the UK?s energy needs for a century. Three weeks ago, an estimated 200 trillion cubic feet of shale gas was discovered near Blackpool, suggesting Britain has far more shale gas than anyone expected. Unlike green targets or costly subsidies, the shale revolution could create a new energy industry that would generate billions of much needed revenue and thousands of real jobs. The knock-on effects of a shale gas revolution could be just as staggering: cheap energy would make UK manufacturing more competitive, gas and electricity bills would fall and the rising trend in fuel poverty could be reversed. Abandoning high-priced green energy programmes together with the exploration of cheap British shale gas would bring down energy costs, perhaps by as much as a third, and kick-start the UK economy. –Benny Peiser, City A.M., 18 October 2011

A few weeks ago, I was chatting to a group of people from environmentally-minded UK think-tanks when the issue of the “greenest government ever” came up… The question being asked in similar circles now is whether Saturday’s announcement on gas-fired power stations means that [Britain’s] climate policy has effectively “gone” as well. What the Treasury and the Department for Energy and Climate Change (Decc) announced was that gas-fired power stations can continue operating with carbon dioxide emissions at around current levels until 2045. Chancellor George Osborne said the move would provide certainty to businesses considering whether to invest in gas generation. “Gas is a reliable, affordable source of energy,” he said. “We need to recognise that gas will be a vital part of the mix in delivering affordable and secure low-carbon energy.” …. There is an argument for marking your diary entry for 17 March 2012 – not yet in ink, but certainly in pencil – as the day the “greenest government ever” label finally fell off in a blast of natural gas. –Richard Black, BBC News, 19 March 2012

The price of electricity that would be generated from new nuclear plants in the UK is looking more and more expensive. Which means that it won’t be commercial for Centrica and EDF to provide it, without the kind of market-rigging that has financed the proliferation of wind turbines. Will the government foist such costs on customers or taxpayers to obtain the greater energy security that nuclear will allegedly provide? I have to say that I don’t detect much confidence from the power companies that ministers are anywhere near having made that substantial ideological leap. I’ve spoken to sources at the companies, and they say there is a make-or-break decision to be made towards the end of the year by ministers – which is whether they are prepared to abandon their previous position that there won’t be any substantial subsidies for nuclear, either from taxpayers or customers. –Robert Peston, BBC News, 30 March 2012

1) UK Government: ‘We Now Understand That Natural Gas Is A Destination Fuel’ – Standpoint Magazine, April 2012

2) UK Environment Agency Gives Go-Ahead For Fracking – Business Green, 30 March 2012

3) Britain’s New Dash For Gas – Daily Mail, 27 March 2012

4) UK Energy Policy In Disarray As Companies Ditch Nuclear Power Plans – Financial Times, 30 March 2012

5) Nuclear Blackmail: More Subsidies Or Forget New Plants – BBC News, 30 March 2012