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Shale should be bridge to low-carbon future

Words: Laura Edgar

The Task Force on Shale Gas is calling on the government to use revenues from the shale gas industry to fund the generation, storage and distribution of renewables and low-carbon energy.

In its third report in a series of four to be released this year, Assessing the Impact of Shale Gas on Climate Change (PDF), the Task Force on Shale Gas also implores the government to speed up the development of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS).

Additionally, the report found that shale gas has a role to play as an “interim baseload energy source in the UK energy mix over the medium term”.

Lord Chris Smith, chair of the task force, explained that the UK will only meet its binding climate commitments by moving to renewable and low-carbon energy sources in the long term.

“Nonetheless, from the evidence it is apparent that renewables cannot meet the UK’s short-term energy needs. Gas must play a role over the medium term. The relative climate impact of shale gas is similar to that of conventional gas and less than that of liquefied natural gas (LNG). It is also much better than coal,” said Smith.

Gas will be needed for several decades and the recommendations made by the task force, which follow academic review and input from the industry and campaigners will, Smith added, ensure that this is done in the right way.

The task force concludes that if “properly regulated, implemented and monitored”, shale gas should be explored as a potential gas source to meet the UK’s energy needs.

The task force’s first report found that there should be a dedicated regulator for onshore underground energy to address the UK’s current planning and regulatory system. The second report found that fracking will only be safe for local people if strict monitoring is carried out and chemicals used are fully disclosed.