Britain needs shale gas energy for when the sun don’t shine and the wind don’t blow – declares UK Energy Minister

Andrea Leadsom, MP,
Andrea Leadsom, MP,

Andrea Leadsom, Minister of State at the UK Department of Energy (DECC) has highlighted that a ‘home-grown’ shale gas energy sector in the UK is vital to replace expensive imports and also to act as a (relatively) short-term ‘environmental bridge’ to a completely carbon-free heat-generating industry.

In an online statement at DECC, she explained the government energy strategy in Britain has three big goals – ‘keeping the lights on, keeping the bills down, and moving to a clean energy future.’

In 2003, the UK was a net exporter of gas. By 2030 – by the time much of the N. Sea has been emptied of economically-recoverable oil and gas – the UK is forecast to be importing close to 75% of the gas needed.

Leadsom said: “We need to meet the UK’s demand for energy, using clean and low carbon energy sources if we are to continue to combat climate change and grow the economy – a point emphasised in the recent report from the independent Task Force on Shale Gas.

“By making the most of our home-grown gas we can safeguard our own domestic supply whilst also cutting our carbon emissions. This isn’t something which will simply happen overnight, it will take time as we start to move to more renewable and low carbon energy sources.

“There is a big challenge in how we get from where we are today – dependent on coal and gas for over 50% of our energy – to a low carbon future.

“Moving from coal to gas would make a huge contribution to reducing our carbon footprint, and is the ‘bridge’ we need for many years to come.

“The anti-fracking lobby seem to think there is a bottomless pit of bill-payers’ money to fund renewable energy generation.

“There isn’t, and even if there was, we would still need gas – as a reliable source of electricity when the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow.

“Even as our reliance on fossil fuels for generating electricity reduces, we will still need to use gas for heating and cooking in our homes and for producing products including soap, paint, clothes and plastic.

“The Task Force on Shale Gas was clear about this, stating that “it is not feasible to create a renewable and low carbon industry in the short term in the UK that can meet the UK’s energy needs as a whole.”

“This means that gas will continue to play a big part in our energy mix for years to come and that’s why the Government is looking into the opportunity of using home-grown shale gas supplies instead of relying on overseas imports.

“If we are going to make this work, we need to make sure that it is entirely safe, protecting the environment and minimising the impact on local people.

“The UK has over 50 years’ experience of safely and successfully producing gas in this country, both for onshore and offshore. We will be using all our expert knowledge as we explore for shale gas.

“Shale gas will bolster our energy security and provide jobs and financial security for communities and families across the UK. An independent study says there could be 65,000 new jobs from a successful UK shale industry.

“There’s also a huge financial benefit for local communities. We are working with industry to make sure local people, communities and local authorities keep some of the income from shale gas development.

“Operators will pay communities £100,000 for each exploration well site plus 1% of production revenue, worth £5m-£10m, to be used as the community sees fit.

“It’s an inconvenient truth for those who don’t want to acknowledge the economic and environmental benefits that shale gas could bring, never mind the crucial role it could play in ensuring we have sufficient and reliable gas supplies.

“People quite rightly expect Government to explore all the options to deliver on our goals of keeping the bills low, the lights on, and moving towards a greener future.”

See also:

England steps on the (shale) gas with new £30m test drill programme, while Scotland stagnates

SNP’s Westminster Energy spokesman sets out the Five Fracking Tests for UK shale gas sector

When Scotland’s shale energy industry led the world

Shale and Safety: get the fracking facts right from the Royal Society of Edinburgh

Colin McNaught, Chairman, Scottish Energy Association
Colin McNaught, Chairman, Scottish Energy Association

Last week, the UK Shale Energy Conference was held in Glasgow by the Scottish Energy Association. 

Colin McNaught, Chairman, said: “The Scottish Energy Association deliberately decided to become involved in the UK shale energy debate to foster and promote knowledge and understanding on shale gas and the fracking process and to ensure greater understanding of the economic and environmental issues of all forms of energy”

Pixie Energy

Pixie logo Pixie Energy is an incubator and a facilitator of strategic research and project work, focusing on energy regulation, policy and markets at the local and national level. Find out more about Pixie Energy here.

Local Energy Matters: Scotland

Local Energy Matters: Scotland is a free-to-download brochure with a focus on energy tariffs in the two Scottish electricity distribution regions, as well news on local energy and low-carbon schemes.

Previous editions can be download here.

Scottish energy market overview

You can read an overview of the Scottish energy market here.

Scottish Government energy feed