Image source: telegraph.co.uk
I confess a resigned sort of anger, albeit quickly repressed, when I hear two shadow front-benchers, Caroline Flint and Angela Eagles, are delaying fracking. Apparently not because they are particularly passionate on the subject personally. No, the opposition MPs are doing this for fear of losing Labour voters to the Greens in the General Election! Surely this a vital national resource for the future that we should be fully investigating and not posturing in this way.
A look at the statistics shows that need to stop a decline in to dependence upon imports for our energy – imports that can at any stage be used as an economic weapon by others against us.
In the UK in 2013 our domestic energy was provided as 68% gas and 23% electricity – the rest from burning wood and coal (official statistics, from the UK’s Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) – that’s two-thirds of our energy gas-based!
Last year in terms of North Sea gas we produced 32m tonnes of oil equivalent (mtoe), but we used 67 mtoe – that’s less than half of our demand locally produced!
DECC data for 2013 shows the energy consumed in generating our electricity shows that burning coal still represents 41%, natural gas comes next at 23%, then nuclear at a little more than 20%, oil is 0.8% and hydro is 0.5% – that means one-quarter of our energy production is gas-based!
Natural gas fracking offers a legitimate potential source of locally-produced natural gas – so we do need to investigate it without blatant vote-attracting tacky tactics or NIMBY-ism clouding the issue.
The USA already has tens of thousands of fracking sites – surely there must be sound data on the risks and rewards rather than the emotional stuff that we are hearing from the Westminster Club.
I hear the response – what about renewables? Well currently wind/wave and solar provides less than 3.5% of our energy. What is termed other renewables is 7.6% (domestic photovoltaic panels, small wind turbines, biomass boilers) – but that total is only 11% of our needs!
Without energy none of the material in The PC Pioneers would be of any use!