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What’s better – fracking, or paying through the nose for imported gas?


ANNOUNCING her resignation yesterday, Britain’s fracking tsar strongly criticised the government for caving into green zealots.

Natascha Engel said the government was strangling the UK shale gas industry at birth despite overwhelming scientific evidence that if properly regulated it is totally safe.

Ms Engel, a former Labour MP, said the result will be higher, not lower, greenhouse gas emissions as we are forced to rely on increased imports of gas.

Whatever your views on fracking, Britain’s dependence on natural gas is indisputable, as a few simple charts show:

1) Gas still accounts for 39 per cent of the UK’s energy consumption, compared with a paltry 3 per cent contribution from wind, solar and hydro:

2) We import 49 per cent of our gas requirements:

3) Although the majority of imports come via pipeline from Norway, liquefied natural gas (LNG) still accounts for 17 per cent of imports:

4) Across the EU as a whole, indigenous production supplies only about a fifth of demand. About a quarter of its gas comes from Russia.

The EU is also heavily reliant on supplies from Qatar, Nigeria and Algeria.

5) In the UK, households account for about a third of gas usage. Significantly, demand in winter peaks at four times that of summer for obvious reasons. Gas supply can easily be adjusted up and down to meet this demand pattern, but for the electricity system to do the same would involve a massive increase in both generating and transmission capacity. To do so with a grid mainly reliant on intermittent renewable energy simply would not be practical, as it would raise the question of what you do with all of that surplus power in summer months.

Neither the government nor the eco zealots it seems to want to get into bed with have anything remotely resembling a practical plan of how to replace natural gas in our energy mix.

Which leaves us with two alternatives:

1) Make the best use of the gas resources we have.

2) Increase our reliance on imports from abroad.

I know which I would rather do.

A longer version of this article first appeared in Not A Lot Of People Know That yesterday and is republished by kind permission.

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Paul Homewood
Paul Homewood
Paul Homewood is a former accountant who blogs about climate change at Not a Lot of People Know That

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