Shale gas could boost supply, lower prices and cut emissions

21 September 2012

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23 September 2012 | Anna Reynolds

UK production of shale gas could create 35,000 jobs and meet 10 per cent of the country’s gas demand for the next 103 years, according to a report by the Institute of Directors (IoD).

In the report Britain's Shale Gas Potential Britain’s onshore shale gas reserves are believed to be much larger than first thought, with the British Geological Survey estimating resources of 200 trillion cubic feet.

Shale gas emits half as much carbon dioxide as coal to generate energy and by shifting from coal-burning electricity generation to gas, up to 45 million tonnes of carbon dioxide could be saved, which is 8 per cent of the UK’s annual carbon emissions.

Also included as part of the report were the results of a survey of more than 1,000 IoD members that found 58 per cent felt the development of shale gas reserves would have a positive impact on British businesses.

Benefits of shale gas have already been seen in the US where shale gas now accounts for 22 per cent of domestic consumption, which has resulted in a drastic fall in energy prices for both industry and householders.

The report describes how US natural gas prices are continuing to fall even though the price of oil is rising (the two are traditionally linked). By replacing coal with natural gas and other renewables the US has been able to reduce its carbon emissions by 450 million tones, more than any other country in the world.

Despite the controversy surrounding ‘fracking’ in the extraction of shale gas, the report maintains that with “proper regulation” the process should be able to proceed in the UK and that it is no more risky than other hydrocarbon extraction.

Corin Taylor, senior economic adviser at the IoD and co-author of the report, said: “Renewables and gas will go hand in hand as the major growth areas in global energy supply over the next ten years. British shale gas has the potential to help decarbonise our power supply, support renewables and boost the economy.”

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