The Task Force on Shale Gas has released its latest report, this time covering issues of climate change. It's available here, and commentary is available from the Times and the Guardian.
The report's conclusions are:
- That, under even the most optimistic scenarios, natural gas will continue to play a role in our electricity, heating and industrial sectors for some time to come.
- Using green completion technology (required by regulations in the UK), CO2 emissions from domestic shale gas will be comparable to emissions from domestic conventional natural gas, and lower than emissions from Qatari LNG (which has to be compressed and then shipped around the world) and from Russian gas (which has to be transported across Siberia and then Eastern Europe in leaky pipelines).
- Therefore, it is better from an emissions perspective to develop domestic shale gas than it is to import gas from abroad (obviously it is better from an economics and geopolitical perspective too, but that's not the subject of this report).
- While it has been suggested that shale gas development may stymie investment in low carbon technologies (renewables, energy efficiency). However, this has not been the case in the USA, where renewables development has continued apace, even as the shale gas revolution has turned energy markets on their heads. This is mainly because government policies have continued to support renewables with a mix of grants, loans, tax credits and other measures.
- Such an approach should also be used in the UK. The report recommends that taxes levied on shale gas development should be ring-fenced and re-invested in low-carbon technologies.