The UK could get a third of its gas supplies from fracking, says strategic energy report
By Megan Darby
Indigenous shale gas could provide more than a third of the UK’s gas supplies in 2035. If the UK fails to invest in gas production it will depend on imports for 90% of its supplies.
These were among the conclusions of National Grid’s latest Future Energy Scenarios report, published on Thursday. The owner and operator of the UK’s core gas and electricity networks, National Grid also has a strategic role in predicting patterns of energy supply and demand.
While National Grid is not directly involved in developing the UK’s shale gas resources, it is well placed to monitor the market. Its models clearly show the controversial new energy source could become a significant part of the energy mix.
Richard Smith, head of energy strategy and policy at National Grid, said: “In our role at the centre of the energy industry, National Grid has a unique insight into the trends shaping the energy landscape.
“It’s really important that we have an open and transparent discussion about where we get our energy from and how we use it.
“Our Future Energy Scenarios document aims to help that dialogue, presenting a range of holistic, plausible and credible scenarios that can help our customers and stakeholders make informed decisions.”
The report highlights the importance of both economic recovery and political consistency to meeting climate goals. It sets out four plausible trajectories for the next 20 years, of which only one – “gone green” – results in the UK hitting all its environmental targets.
Shale gas plays the biggest role in the “low carbon life” scenario, under which the economy grows but low carbon technology is hampered by political volatility.
Renewable energy is projected to supply between 21% and 32% of total demand in 2035, depending on technology development. In 2012, the figure was 4% and the UK has a target of 15% by 2020.
Fracking for shale gas has become a divisive political issue across Europe. Proponents say it could provide cheap energy, as has happened in the USA, while displacing more-polluting coal. Opponents raise concerns about developing new fossil fuel resources when effective action to tackle climate change means leaving some known reserves in the ground.
The UK government is bullish about the prospects for shale gas, but other European countries have halted development. The incoming European Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, has said he personally opposes fracking.