Month: July 2011

Scottish offshore wind: Government Dispute threatens revenues

Scottish offshore wind: Government Dispute threatens revenues

A dispute between the Scottish and UK parliaments may be hindering the development of Scottish offshore wind, as well as other forms of off-shore renewable energy. The dispute between the SNP majority government at Holyrood and the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition at Westminster is threatening investment in the sector. The SNP (Scottish National Party) had made the devolution of Scottish Crown Estate Property (in this case the seabed itself) one of it’s key economic policies. The Crown Estate has become a divisive issue between the two parliaments as the development of Scotland’s offshore renewable energy generation potential is considered to be key to achieving the SNP target of 100% renewable energy generation  by 2020. According to some SNP figures Scotland is to become “Saudi Arabia of renewables”. Currently the revenues generated from Scottish Waters are controlled by the Crown Estate and therefore bi-pass the Scottish Parliament completely and go to the Treasury at Westminster.

Danny Alexander, the Lib Dem Chief Treasury Secretary  has recently unveiled a new scheme to ‘support economic development in coastal communities’. This scheme will see 50% of the Crown Estate offshore revenues made available to such coastal communities for investment. The scheme will have a pot of cash of £23.7 million in total with £1.85 million ear-marked for the Highlands and Isles and £2.05 million for the rest of Scotland. With large-scale investment expected in Scottish offshore wind, marine and tidal generation it is expected that the amount available will increase dramatically; some estimates have put Scottish revenues from the seabed to rise to £40 million by the year 2021.

However the scheme has been criticised for a number of reasons. Firstly the Secretary has been accused of political opportunism, with some interpreting the scheme as an attempt to de-fang the SNP on the issue. Secondly, there has been criticism of a less political nature, the scheme will be placed under the control of the Big Lottery Fund meaning that coastal communities will be required to bid for access to the money. Thirdly, an upcoming  Scottish Affairs Select Committee report is expected to strongly recommend “much greater” devolution to local communities so that they can directly benefit from investing in their sea beds.

Scottish Finance Secretary John Swinney reacted to the announcement of the scheme: “We welcome the fact that Scotland’s coastal communities will now benefit from their own resources, but it is only because of pressure from the Scottish Government that Westminster is taking any action on this issue, and this paltry announcement does not go nearly far enough.

“The Treasury has hit Scotland’s offshore oil and gas industry with a £2 billion tax grab and is also withholding around £200 million of Scotland’s money in the form of the Fossil Fuel Levy – now they appear to be trying to buy off Scotland’s coastal communities by offering them only 50% of their own resources.

“Those communities need to benefit from all of the money raised from Crown Estate revenues in Scottish waters.

“This is Scotland’s money and devolving  full responsibility is vital if Scotland is to make the most of our vast offshore renewable energy potential.”

Angus Campbell, leader of the Western Isles Council welcomed the announcement as the beginning to reform but went on to say: “However I do not believe that a challenge fund controlled by the lottery is the way these funds should be administered. Local communities should have control and disburse income which is generated in their waters, not have to go through a bidding process to get what should be rightfully theirs.”

The dispute comes at a time when Scottish offshore wind developments are encountering some other problems. Whilst there are a number of developments underway there is a time delay between turbines being successfully constructed and being connected to the electricity grid. In the first six months of 2011 only around two thirds of the number of offshore turbines built in the UK were actually connected to the grid.  This has meant that there has been less progress than there should have been in adding new generating capacity to the grid.

There has been good news for the wind sector as whole however as it has recently been uncovered that wind energy is now key to the European construction sector. Wind energy was one of the few industry’s which maintained demand over the course of the recession; most of the rest of the construction sector suffered badly.

The dispute over Scottish offshore revenues has led to some uncertainty about investment however Scottish renewables as a whole are continuing to develop at a good pace.
Scottish onshore wind particularly as Scottish offshore wind is considered to be around 40% more expensive to estasblish.



Shale Gas Protest in Blackpool

Shale Gas Protest in Blackpool

It has recently been announced that a three day protest is planned to take place against the drilling for Shale Gas which has been carried out at a site outside of Blackpool. The protest, which is due to take place in September, will take place near the village of Singleton in a field next to the drilling site. The field has already been dubbed ‘Camp Frack‘.

Test drilling had been carried out at the site by the company Cuadrilla Resources in March but was later suspended after earthquakes occurred in the area in April and May. These earthquakes took place over the period in which fluids were being injected into rock to cause fracture and release the shale gas; the process known as fracking. Cuadrilla Resources stated that the earthquakes were unconnected to the drilling but doubts were expressed by some geologists including the British Geological Survey.

A meeting was held on the issue of Shale Gas  on the 19th of July in London. Caroline Lucas, Leader of the UK Green Party, was in attendance and commented that: “It is deeply irresponsible to try to extract this gas. It is a dirty, dangerous and dodgy energy supply which is still not understood well enough.” A number of issues surround the process of Shale Gas Extraction and questions have been raised on it’s true carbon footprint and the environmental impact the process itself and the disposal of waste materials has.

The UK debate is taking place at a time when the extraction process of fracking has just been banned in France. France became the first country in the world to ban commercial fracking on the 30th of June. This saw the banning bill successfully pass through both Houses of the French Parliament.  The bill passed through the House of Representatives on the 21st of July and on the 30th it was passed by the Senate following a vote of 176 to 151. The vote was divided along party lines with the majority conservative party in favour whilst the opposition voted against. However, it seems that many of the votes against were due to the feeling that the bill failed to go far enough rather than because of any objection to the ban itself. This feeling was voiced by the Socialist Party in particular who criticised the bill for leaving open a number of loopholes and for allowing methods of extraction other than fracking to be used. An earlier version of the bill proposed to ban any development of Shale Gas Extraction altogether and was supported by the Socialist Party.

As a result of the bill companies which are currently in possession of permits for drilling in French oil shale deposits have been given two months to inform the French Government what extraction technique they are using. If they are using fracking or fail to respond to the request then their permits will be automatically revoked.

The French Bill looks unlikely to be replicated in Britain with a number of MPs arguing that the potential environmental problems caused by fracking can be overcome through tight regulation and good industry practise. Shale Gas is increasingly been seen as a ‘transitional alternative’ to coal due to the (disputed) lower carbon emissions it produces. Kevin Anderson, the deputy director of Manchester University’s Tyndall Centre for climate change research that Shale Gas could not be an alternative to coal: “It is not a substitute. My fear is that it will be combusted as well as coal. The Shale Gas industry recently announced that it expected that 35% of the increase in all gas production by 2035 would come from Shale. The former Energy Minister Michael Meacher, speaking at the London meeting, voiced his concerns over a large scale expansion in the world wide use of Shale Gas: “That is a huge shift from conventional fossil fuels to unconventional sources. But it is a big risk because the US industry is very poorly regulated and companies do not have to disclose the chemicals that they use.”

With the protests set to go ahead it seems that there is a growing awareness of the threat that Shale Gas poses not just to the British environment but also to the British Renewable Industry.


NFU Scotland calls for overhaul of Planning Process to boost Scottish Wind

NFU Scotland calls for overhaul of Planning Process to boost Scottish Wind

The National Farmers Union of Scotland has called for an overhaul of the Scottish planning system. Farmers and landowners are expected to play a key part in the push for 100% renewable energy by 2020 but are becoming increasingly frustrated by what they feel to be inadequacies in the regional planning system. They have contacted the Scottish Government, calling for them to be ‘proactive’ in tackling the growing list of issues and challenges their members are encountering in trying to install renewable technologies on their property.

In a letter to the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth, John Swinney,  they have urged the Scottish Government to build upon the 2020 Roadmap for Renewables. They have suggested that an independent group of experts be established to deliver a ‘clear, concise and deliverable renewables strategy’. This group, as envisaged by the NFU Scotland, would also be responsible for developing a clearly defined role for each of the various renewable energy generation technologies and tackling the inconsistencies and constraints that NFU Scotland members are encountering in the various planning departments up and down the country.

NFU Scotland President Nigel Miller released the following comment: “The Scottish Government’s commitment to renewable energy is positive; it will not only contribute to world-leading climate change targets but will lay the foundations for a new green economy with positive spin-offs for Scottish technology and engineering.

“To date, the transformation of Scotland’s energy base has been dramatic and the ambitious goal of having the capacity to generate 100% of our electricity requirement from renewable sources by 2020 is looking increasingly attainable. Farmers, crofters and landowners have already played a major part in this green revolution, and on-farm investment and collaboration will continue to be a key part of the growth in generation capacity.

“While renewable energy is an exciting opportunity for many of our members, they are looking to the Scottish Government to set out clear standards and priorities to guide and support that investment so that the industry can continue to build upon its strengths and benefit Scotland as a whole.

“Feedback from members interested in the technology has shown that a major stumbling block to progress in this area is that the present regional planning approach can be unclear, and is nearing overload. We have a growing list of incidents where members believe planning authorities have failed to provide proportionate pathways for micro and major developments, and have been inconsistent in the standards demanded from applications. In addition, grid capacity is becoming a significant limiting factor in future developments.

“That is causing friction and the Union believes that an independent expert group would be best placed to tackle such issues and ensure that the protocols and standards needed to guide future investment and planning decisions around renewables are set and guaranteed at national level.

“For the growing number of interested businesses, it would be of considerable benefit were they to receive a clear steer on the mix of technologies, the prioritisation of grid development and the roles of micro and major generation schemes in Scotland. This is necessary, if we are to realise the potential of a blossoming renewable energy economy and also maintain the buy in and commitment of those who are prepared to invest in the future.”

In our experience, it is true that there is a disconnect between the local and national levels of government on the subject of renewable energy. An expert panel as proposed by the NFU Scotland would certainly help the country to achieve it’s target of 100% renewable generation by 2020.


The Scotland on Sunday and Us.

The Scotland on Sunday and Us.

Another article appeared in the national press on our work this week.  The article, appearing in the Scotland on Sunday, not only outlined the history of Intelligent Land Investments as a company but also underlined the long term benefits we are hoping to bring to farmers and landowners up and down the country. As our Chief Executive Officer Mark Wilson said: “The Scottish Government’s feed-in tariff has revolutionised how much farmers and landowners can make through wind power. They could get up to £30,000 a year, guaranteed for the next 20 years.”

The guaranteed nature of this sum could be hugely important for Scottish Agriculture. A number of the farmers we work with have indicated to us that they intend to re-invest the money generated from the turbines into their existing farm business. The hiring of new staff and the purchasing of new agricultural machinery are things that can not only support fragile local economies in tough times but also increase yields. It has recently been announced that food and drink are now Scotland’s biggest exports so our turbines could perhaps benefit the Scottish economy at both the micro and macro level. Equally as important, of course, is the piece of mind that a guaranteed income can provide for those working in a difficult industry.

The comments, or rather comment, section is also worth a read due to the interesting, if untrue, conspiracy theory outlined by one reader.

The article can be found here. All thanks to Peter Ranscombe.

Electricity Market Reform White Paper – Reactions

Electricity Market Reform White Paper – Reactions

Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Chris Huhne unveiled a new white paper, titled Electricity Market Reform (EMR), this week. The paper outlined the Westminster Parliaments plans for the much delayed and even more necessary reforms and infrastructure investments in the UK Energy Grid. It outlined the technologies earmarked as being cost-effective and high in potential both now and post 2020. These technologies are onshore wind, offshore wind, marine energy, biomass electricity, biomass heat and ground and air source heat pumps. As well as this there was also a big role given to nuclear power with some declaring some of the reforms as nothing more than hidden subsidies for the industry. The white paper is also notable for its shift in rhetoric. Previously the Department of Energy and Climate Change had spoken of achieving Government targets for carbon emission reduction but with energy bills steadily rising and public disquiet on the issue increasing the talk had shifted to “keeping the lights on”.

Huhne at the paper’s unveiling said: “The idea that somehow we’ve been massively investing in renewables is absolute nonsense. We are catching up from a very low base. We’ve had 25 years of dithering on energy investment. We’ve got to stop dithering, because decision time is coming. You can have investment or you can have blackouts.”

The EMR paper predicted at least a four-fold increase in renewable energy consumption by 2020. Huhne spoke of why this was vital: “Growth on that kind of scale will be challenging, but will be necessary if we are to make the UK more energy secure, help protect consumers from fossil fuel price fluctuations, drive investment in new jobs and businesses, and keep us on track to meet our carbon reduction objectives for the coming decades.

“It will require industry to carry on making the case for renewables and Government and the Developed Administrations to break through the barriers that are stopping new schemes being built.”

Energy Minister Charles Hendry told journalists that the government expected the technologies outlined in the EMR paper to achieve 90% of their target with other technologies, such as solar, having a “marginal role”.

Reaction to the paper was as could be expected, from the large number of different interests involved, mixed.  Scottish Renewables chief executive Niall Stuart issued the following statement: “The statement confirms that renewables are a major part of our future energy mix and the sector will be a significant driver of investment and employment over the coming decades as we replace ageing and polluting power stations with cleaner alternatives.

“Nobody should underestimate the importance of these reforms, which will make or break progress towards the UK’s and Scotland’s renewable energy and climate change targets.

“There is still a huge amount of detail to be developed, but this broad package of measures should allow us to meet the twin aims of increasing investment in renewables and minimising energy costs for consumers.

“Despite recent media reports, these reforms will actually mean reduced financial support for renewable electricity in exchange for long term certainty over revenues, with generators potentially having to pay back income if market prices reach a certain level.

“As the Secretary of State highlighted, the growth of renewables will not just clean upo our energy supply, it will also protect consumers form price rises due to the massive and growing volatility in international gas markets, meaning lower bills for consumers over the longer term.

“We will be working with DECC to ensure that the reforms are implemented in a way that supports Scotland’s ambitious 100 per cent renewable electricity target, and encourages investment in our key sectors such as our world-leading wave and tidal industry as it seeks to develop the first commercial wave and tidal farms between now and 2020.

“Scotland can lead the the UK’s efforts to cut emissions from the power sector and increase renewables, but only with the right support from Government. Massive growth in offshore wind will bring particular opportunities for Scotland’s existing offshore engineering sector and emerging offshore wind supply chain.

“But it is not just about investment in generation – ministers must also ensure that we get the necessary investment in new grid connections, onshore and offshore, to ensure that we can get power from where it is generated to where it will be going.”

5 of the ‘Big 6′ Energy Companies that dominate the UK’s Energy Market were also quick to release statements.

British Gas parent firm Centrica Energy managing director Mark Hanafin had this to say: “There remains much detail to resolve so that investors can have confidence that the tax and regulatory environment makes the UK energy sector a good place to invest.

“These measures come at a cost and it is vital that all of us – Government, regulators and the industry – are open and transparent with the public about the impact of these changes.”

David Cockshott, Director of Industrial and Commercial Markets for Npower commented: “We found many major energy users in the UK are concerned about the legislation outlined in the EMR and the impact it will have on their operations in the UK.

“While the EMR white paper provides some clarity on the future of the UK energy market, it may not provide the reassurance intensive energy users are seeking.

“Our experience with talking to industry about the EMR suggests that they will be eagerly awaiting further detail on each of the EMR proposals so they can start to make key low carbon investment decisions.”

EDF Energy chief executive Vincent de Rivaz: “It encourages investment in generation which is both low carbon and not dependent on fossil fuel prices.

“Trust is the essence of a healthy market, therefore it is important to continue to have a dialogue about energy costs.

“Consumer bodies, the regulator, industry and Government need to work together to build understanding. Renewing Britain’s ageing energy infrastructure will have a cost. Electricity Market Reform means that cost will be kept to a minimum.”

Ian Merchant, Scottish and Southern Energy chief executive stated: ” Any changes to the electricity market arrangements have to be carefully thought through, in a way which avoids unintended consequences and is supportive of the investment that is needed now and in the next few years.

“It is on this basis that we will ultimately judge the white paper as a whole and to ensure this is achieved we will continue to work with the UK Government and other bodies.”

E. ON chief executive Dr Paul Golby: “We cannot be complacent, it’s important this is driven froward to ensure a cleaner energy future for everyone.

“And, while the onus on the energy companies is to produce, transport and supply energy as efficiently as possible, we must also remember that this is not just about companies like E. ON and the Government, this is also about helping our customers who have a vital role to play in all of this.

“By becoming more energy fit – by insulating their homes, moderating their energy usage and by generating their own power – our customers can do their bit to reduce both their bills and also their carbon emissions, dual aims that we can all get behind.”

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond, long an advocate of renewable energy issued the following statement: “Electricity Market Reform can help realise Scotland’s huge potential for clean energy generation and ensure security of supply across these islands.

“The UK White Paper makes clear that household electricity bills will rise over the coming decades and that increases are likely to be 25% higher if the market is not reformed. Investment in low carbon energy generation that harnesses our own natural resources will reduce both our reliance on fossil fuels and exposure to volatile global prices.

“Scotland is leading the development of renewable energy generation and carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies. EMR provides an opportunity to accelerate that, to help tackle climate change, to deliver greater energy security and to help limit rises that consumers are expected to face in the coming decades. The multi-billion pound investments required will create tens of thousands of jobs, leading to the re-industrialisation  of Scotland as we drive forwards the renewables revolution and development of CCS.

“While we support the principles underpinning EMR we have concerns about some of the detailed proposals. For example the move from the Renewable Obligation certificate regime to a Contract for Difference (CfD) mechanism must not create an investment hiatus, given the considerable progress already made and our ambitious plans up to 2020.

“We are also fundamentally opposed to the support for new nuclear plants because every pound spent subsidising this expensive and unpredictable technology of the last century is one  pound less available for investment in future growth of renewable generation. The EMR side steps the fact that the future costs of nuclear remain unquantifiable. An energy policy that relies on nuclear is an energy policy with a black hole at its heart.

“While newer renewable sources such as offshore wind have relatively high capital costs to begin with, theses will continue to reduce and be fuelled by nature indefinitely with no dirty clean up costs. Given the windfall that nuclear generators are likely to receive under the Carbon Floor Price mechanism, there should be no additional  subsidy for nuclear through the proposed CfD.

“The White Paper also pays insufficient attention to initiatives to protect consumers’ interests and I’ve stressed to (UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change) Chris Huhne that this is an area that must be strengthened. EMR must support consumers by making the network smarter and more responsive, through better demand side response, storage and interconnection. A more flexible and adaptive grid can provide both energy suppliers and households with better information on energy use and cost, alongside support for energy efficiency.

“Recent investments in Scotland’s offshore renewables sector from leading companies including Mitsubishi, Gamesa, Doosan, ABB and Alstom, are testament to our great natural and human resources and supportive environment for renewable energy investment and job creation. At the same time, Longannet remains the lead candidate for the UK’s first CCS demonstration project and Scotland also has an excellent base in science and engineering to ensure that we exploit the immense potential of CCS.

“We will continue working with DECC to ensure that a coherent, effective and seamless package of reforms are delivered which will fully reflect the respective powers of the Scottish and UK Parliament. In doing so, we remain committed to maintaining Scotland’s position as ‘destination of choice’ for investment in the development, deployment and generation of clean energy.

“Scotland is estimated to have as much of a quarter of Europe’s wind and tidal power resource and around one tenth of it’s potential wave energy capacity, as well as a wealth of expertise in offshore engineering, which can position us as a massive exporter of clean energy. The UK Renewables Roadmap includes Scotland’s target for renewables to generate the equivalent of 100 per cent of annual electricity demand by 2020…

“The Roadmap recognises the huge contribution that Scotland can make to the achievement of UK and European green energy targets and this must be reflected in the final reforms to the electricity market which follow the consultation on today’s White Paper. At the same time, in order to fully harness Scotland’s massive renewables resource, fundamental change to the transmission charging regime is also required to end the discrimination against generation in those areas of Scotland with the greatest resource and to deliver the low carbon objectives of both the Scottish and UK Governments.”

Perhaps it is best to let Chris Huhne have the last word: “None of these challenges can be met for free. We will have to pay for secure, reliable, clean electricity generation including nuclear, renewable energy, and carbon capture and storage. Increases in wholesale costs and the carbon price are likely to lead to higher bills in the future, even without factoring in the huge investment needed in new infrastructure.

“So it is vital we put in place market arrangements that deliver the investment as cost-effectively as possible. The current electricity market is simply not up to the job.”

Shale Gas Waste Water Poisonous?

Shale Gas Waste Water Poisonous?

A recent report published by the U.S. Forest Service in the Journal of Environmental Quality has found that the ‘waste water’ left over from the process of shale gas extraction known as fracking can be extremely damaging, indeed lethal, to vegetation. This is on top of other possible side effects of the process; such as earthquakes and combustible water.

In 2008 an area of land less than half an acre in area had 75,000 gallons of fluid that had been used in the fracking process spead over it over a period of two days. This section of the Fernow Experimental Forest (found within the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia) which the Forest Service uses for research and is also being drilled by the gas company Berry Energy was then absorbed to see if the fluid had had any ecological impact. Almost all of the ground vegetation in the area died within an extremely short period following the releases of the fluid. Within a few days trees had begun to shed leaves which were at this point brown and wilted. Of 150 affected tress 56% would eventually die. The exact chemical composition of the waste water was not known as such information is considered to be proprietary by shale gas drilling companies. The Forest Service determined that the chemical make-up of the water was mainly sodium and calcium chloride as high levels of these compounds were found to be present in the topsoil.

Several states in the U.S. allow such waste water to be disposed of on land and issue permits for this purpose indicating that such types of pollution could increase as the shale gas industry develops. The Forest Service’s research concluded that it should be a ‘high priority’ to determine ways in which vegetation could be protected during land disposal of waste water and to develop a dosing standard for waste water.

It seems that new ways in which shale gas extraction pollutes and damages the environment are being found with regularity.

Stealth Wind Turbines

Stealth Wind Turbines

Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas announced recently that it had successfully tested a new ‘stealth’ wind turbine near Prestwick Airport in Ayrshire, Scotland. This new turbine technology could see large areas of land previously deemed unsuitable for wind turbine development opened up to the renewable energy technology.

Currently wind turbines cannot be placed in areas near airports and military installations because the turbine blades interfere with radar. The interference is caused by radar signals reflecting off of turbine blades. These new blades, however, are coated with materials originally developed for stealth bombers, and as such have vastly reduced the level of interference caused by turbines. Vestas places this reduction at a level of 99% or 20 decibels compared to standard turbines. Crucially such modifications do not affect the the performance or appearance of turbines.  The President of Vestas Technology, Research and Development, Finn Strom Madsen commentated that: “Our testing has demonstrated that we have successfully adopted military stealth technology to make Vestas wind turbines viable for placement in many locations that have been restricted by radar concerns. This is a critical step forward towards the commercialisation of stealth turbines and holds potential to open a significant number of wind power locations for Vestas customers.” However no timescale has yet been given for the commercial availability of this technology but Vestas has stated that this technology will not significantly increase the price of their turbines.

It has been estimated that radar issues are blocking around 20 gigawatts worth of planned turbines worldwide. In our work in Scotland we have encountered a large number of areas that are currently unusable by turbines due to the radar problem. Parts of Lothian, Ayrshire, Renfrewshire, and South and North Lanarkshire are all currently deemed to be no go areas. The development of such new technologies can then only help Scotland to achieve the ambitious renewable energy targets that have been set at multiple levels of government.

Shale Gas and the European Union: Legislation Needed

Shale Gas and the European Union: Legislation Needed

There seems to be a growing consensus about Shale Gas in Europe. Following the ban of the fracking process in France and the suspension of exploratory drilling in England after increased seismic activity, Brussels is beginning to react. Increasing awareness of the problems that seem to be caused by fracking; water pollution and contamination, seismic instability, methane leakage and excessive use of ground water, is resulting in the development of political resistance to the fledgling fuel.

Jo Leinen, described by the Guardian as “one of the most influential members of the European Parliament, wants a new “energy quality directive” within Europe that would mean that fuels, such as Shale Gas,  which are deemed to adversely impact upon the environment would be regulated heavily. Leinen is the chair of the EU committee on the environment, public health and food safety and as such has the power to introduce proposals for such regulation. He feels that there would likely be support for legislative intervention because a number of MEPs are becoming increasingly worried about shale gas. He stated that “We need to be looking much more carefully at shale gas, and at the consequences of pursuing it”. Regulation could take the form of limits or financial penalties on the use or extraction of shale gas.

The International Energy Agency recently released a report on shale gas which came to the conclusion that it was not a “panacea” for the worlds changing energy needs. Shale gas if used as the worlds main energy source would result in climate change going past the 2C mark regarded as the limit of safety. Beyond this point climate change is considered to become both catastrophic and irreversible.

However, any attempts to introduce legislative limitations on shale gas can expect to meet fierce resistance from the gas industry. Shale gas has been pushed hard as a ‘green’ energy source, particularly as it is cheaper to produce than most renewable energy sources. However, the carbon footprint of shale gas production has been repeatedly questioned as the figures released by the gas industry do not take into account the problem of methane leakage. Methane is considered to be the worst greenhouse gas because it is twenty times more damaging to the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. Some have estimated that 4-8% of the methane produced by shale gas production enters into the atmosphere through leaking and venting.

Shale gas can be extremely damaging to the environment and to the renewable energy sector. Action must be taken.

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