The 18-month moratorium on shale gas drilling was a “scandal”, member of the UK House of Commons select committee on climate change Peter Lilley said late Monday.
He was speaking at a panel session launching a report into the difficulties that the UK’s energy policy is facing, “Power from Fossil Fuels,” published by lobby group Carbon Connect, and written by a range of policy experts, engineers and academics.
Coal-fired generating plant is being closed down with immediate effect, and possible investors in new plant — who are global players, with plenty of options about where to spend their money, as the co-chair of Carbon Connect Charles Hendry pointed out at the same event — are facing a bewildering range of uncertainties.
Wholesale gas prices are too high to make combined cycle gas turbines profitable, and how the government will address this problem has not been decided.
Even if shale gas production did not slash prices as it has in the US, Lilley said that a fortnight’s trip to the US — the birthplace of the shale gas revolution — could have answered all the questions surrounding the risks of hydraulic fracturing, enabling shale gas production to start that much earlier.
“Most of the concerns are either exaggerations or lies,” he said.
“Either there will or will not be a lot of gas; either it will or it will not be enough to lower prices. Either way we win: it will bring in taxes for other areas.” He said there was a correlation: those who talk down the prospects of shale tend to be those who press for decarboniized electricity.
In that context, he said, carbon capture and storage would play a crucial role. However, as the panel conceded, there are so far no working projects in the UK; and many working examples of CCS are for enhanced oil recovery.
UK shale gas delay was 'scandalous': parliament panel member