'Smart dash for gas' recommended in new report

18 March 2013
By Edd Gent
Mobile version
Share |
Shale gas extraction should make up part of a “dash for smart gas” to replace coal power according to the Grantham Institute

Shale gas extraction should make up part of a “dash for smart gas” to replace coal power according to the Grantham Institute

A “dash for smart gas” to replace coal power, including from "fracking", should play a part in carbon reduction efforts, according to a new report.

But the report from the Grantham Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at LSE warned it would be risky to assume gas prices will be low in the coming years or that the UK has extensive supplies of shale gas – extracted through the controversial process of fracking.

It also noted the use of gas was a short-term fix and that gas-fired power stations could only play a significant role in generating electricity beyond 2030 if they are fitted with carbon capture technology to trap and store their emissions.

Supporters of shale gas claim it could provide large supplies of gas which could reduce prices and provide energy security through domestic production.

But while the authors agree the potential of shale gas is worth investigating they say the scale of extraction in the UK could be constrained not only by the size of the resource and the cost of exploiting it, but also public concerns about its environmental and social impacts.

The report's authors said: "Analysis reveals that substantial investment in gas on the assumption of low prices and large unconventional reserves is a risky option.

"A lower risk option would be a 'dash for smart gas', where natural gas is used judiciously in those areas where it offers the greatest value in decarbonising the power sector."

Chancellor George Osborne has provoked controversy with moves that signalled a new "dash for gas" including proposing tax relief for shale gas exploitation, and a gas generation strategy backing use of the fossil fuel for electricity.

But critics fear the process of fracturing of shale rock with high-pressure liquid to release the gas risks earthquakes and pollution of water supplies, and that gas wells could blight the countryside and affect house prices.

There are also concerns that a continuing reliance on gas will make it harder and more expensive to meet climate change goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The study’s authors said: "In the short run, the UK's emissions can be reduced by replacing coal-fired power stations with those fuelled by natural gas, which emit less than half the carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour of coal-fired plants.

"But in the medium to long term, a heavy reliance on gas-fired power stations with unabated emissions would hinder the decarbonisation of the UK's power sector."

The Government has raised the possibility of relaxing "carbon budgets" for reducing emissions in the 2020s so that more natural gas can be burned to make electricity.

But the report from the Grantham Institute warned that doing so could make it more expensive to cut carbon from the economy, because it will have to be done more quickly to meet legally-binding goals to slash emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.

The study also warned low gas prices were not guaranteed in the future, with some estimates suggesting prices were more likely to rise than fall in the UK and Europe in the next 20 years.

If gas prices fall, for example as the result of an increase in supplies from unconventional sources such as shale, it could be good for the UK economy, but relying too heavily on gas could turn out to be inconsistent with the Government's aim to insulate the economy from energy cost rises by diversifying supply, the report said.

Latest Issue

E&T cover image 1607

"As the dust settles after the referendum result, we consider what happens next. We also look forward to an international summer of sport."

E&T jobs

  • Chair in Integrated Sensor Technology

    The University of Edinburgh
    • Edinburgh, City of Edinburgh

    The University of Edinburgh is one of the world’s top 20 institutions of higher education.....

    • Recruiter: The University of Edinburgh

    Apply for this job

  • Principal Electrical Engineer - Power

    BAE Systems
    • Bristol, England / Cumbria, Barrow-In-Furness, England
    • Negotiable

    Principal Electrical Engineer - Power Join our Electrical Power team and help design the self-contained generation and distribution system for the Successor submarine - a new generation of submarine designed to carry the UK's independent nuclear deterrent

    • Recruiter: BAE Systems

    Apply for this job

  • Operations Supervisor (Mechanical/Electrical/Instrumentation)

    National Grid
    • England, Cambridgeshire
    • £33000 - £39000 per annum

    Operations Supervisor - (Mechanical/Electrical/Instrumentation) Salary: Circa £33k - 39k dependant on experience + vehicle and great additional benefits (share scheme, pension, potential bonus).Location: Wisbech - Cambridgeshire We currently have an excit

    • Recruiter: National Grid

    Apply for this job

  • Lead NDT Trainer

    BAE Systems
    • England, Lancashire
    • Competitive package

    Would you like to be involved with training UK and international teams in Non Destructive Inspection (NDI) to support the in service fleet (Typhoon Tornado, and Hawk)?

    • Recruiter: BAE Systems

    Apply for this job

  • Systems Design - Emerging Portfolio

    MBDA
    • Bristol
    • Competitive Salary & Benefits

    What?s the opportunity?   There are fantastic opportunities in Systems Design for engineers to work within Future Systems. These are highly visible, fast paced roles, in...

    • Recruiter: MBDA

    Apply for this job

  • Metering Engineer

    Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
    • Teddington, United Kingdom
    • £24,109 - £27,961 plus EO Electronics PE of £8,090.00

    We are now looking for a Metering Engineer to deliver RD’s In-Service Testing (IST) scheme for gas and electricity meters.

    • Recruiter: Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

    Apply for this job

  • Head of Operational Estates

    Premium job

    The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust
    • Shrewsbury, Shropshire
    • £46,625 to £57,640 per annum

    As an experienced Estates Manager, you will play a key role in helping to shape the future of the Estates service.

    • Recruiter: The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust

    Apply for this job

  • Engineering Project Manager - Electrical & Automation

    Nestle
    • York, North Yorkshire
    • c£45,000 + Car Allowance + Bonus + Excellent Benefits

    Nestlé Product Technology Centre in York currently has an excellent opportunity for an Engineering Project Manager

    • Recruiter: Nestle

    Apply for this job

  • Assistant Professor (Tenure Track) of Smart Building Solutions

    Premium job

    ETH Zurich
    • Zurich, Canton of Zürich (CH)

    The successful candidate is expected to develop a strong and visible research programme in the area of control and diagnostics of building systems

    • Recruiter: ETH Zurich

    Apply for this job

  • Process Controls Leader

    Premium job

    Phillips 66
    • Humber Refinery, South Killingholme, North Lincolnshire DN40 3DW
    • £60k - 75k plus extensive Compensation and benefits package, dependent upon experience

    Experienced Process Control Leader providing leadership and technical support for Oil Refinery. Extensive Compensation and benefits package.

    • Recruiter: Phillips 66

    Apply for this job

More jobs ▶

Subscribe

Choose the way you would like to access the latest news and developments in your field.

Subscribe to E&T