All posts by Nick Grealy

Cuadrilla goes Ghostbusters: We ain’t scared of no ghosts

There are two sides to the theory that UK opposition to shale gas makes the development of an industry problematic. Interestingly, many on either the “conventional wisdom”  and the noisy, tiny and increasingly irrelevant opposition are both stuck in the same rut.

The rut derives from Britain’s favourite place, living in the past.  UK shale has had dual curses, both surrounding experts opinion of the the past.  Shale simply moves too fast.

Something is going to happen soon in UK shale, something wonderful.  But it’s going to happen from 2018 reality not the outdated concepts of the past.  Things have changed.  Yet both opponents and proponents are stuck in the past,  fighting the battles often epitomised by the events in Balcombe in 2013. That’s ridiculous. Lets recall that the number one fear, according to the equally out of date BEIS Social Attitude Tracker Survey, surrounds the surface impact or industrialisation of the countryside. That fear is held by over 60% of opponents.

Continue reading Cuadrilla goes Ghostbusters: We ain’t scared of no ghosts

Living to tell the tale

Indulge the elegiac tone here. It will soon be obvious why.

I have been so blessed in so many ways. Life is too short to be wasted on regret, but as Francis Albert Sinatra sang, I’ve had a few of those, and as I start thinking about my legacy, I’ll inevitably address the negative side of that over the next few weeks.  I intend to do that filtered via a collaborator who hopefully will curb my worst impulses. Continue reading Living to tell the tale

No Deathbed Conversion: My view on onshore UK gas

August is the traditional peak of the silly season when the UK media uses any number of tenuous, out dated or too often, simply bored attempts to feed the maw of the media machinery. With audience and grown ups away, the field is opened up to a new crop of writers misguided enough to still see some romance in the formerly noble métier of journalism.  Many of them are “interns”, or what anyone in most jobs recognise as “slaves”, but the alleged riches of “making a difference” drag them in every summer. Continue reading No Deathbed Conversion: My view on onshore UK gas

Within not even a month: The breathtaking hypocrisy of Ireland and shale gas

Ireland recently decided to ban shale gas , adding to a small  list of paragons, mostly with little to no shale potential such as Wales and Vermont which shale opponents often cite to those who wish to explore more prospective areas such as New York State, Lancashire and London. Green Party Senator O’Sullivan was quoted as saying:

“Our current energy policy is nothing less than a complete contradiction, a policy that can only lead to one conclusion: we should keep the petroleum in the ground.”

No kidding Senator: with unseemly haste, within a month, rather proving Senator O’Sullivan’s point  Ireland also decided to start importing it. Continue reading Within not even a month: The breathtaking hypocrisy of Ireland and shale gas

Top shale myth of 2017 is strong UK public opposition.

Elsewhere on this site is a Top Ten Shale Gas Myths that has been up for so long some of the oldies but goodies are getting moldy.  Time for a refresh and let’s replace the old number one with a new number one.  The previous chart topper  “My Water Will Catch on Fire” never gets airtime anymore.  It was a 2009 one hit wonder from Gasland, and not even the most uninformed opponents repeat it anymore.

The new number one is a strange one.  Although it’s often used by opponents, the issue itself is used by even those who profess neutrality or even support shale.  So into number one with a rocket is

“UK shale gas will never happen due to public opposition”.

As with the other myths, this is something that everyone insists is true but for which we can only find scant evidence.  It’s noteworthy that while one would expect opponents to cite it,  the issue is how this gets into the “conventional” wisdom.

My recent experience with London Local Energy is one part of the evidence.  I’m bemused how the LLE story, which according to the Conventional Wisdom would be met with universal condemnation, has in fact been basically ignored.

If shale is so controversial/un-investable,  one would expect the story to make more than page 23 of the London Evening Standard.   The mystery brings to mind Sherlock Holmes

Gregory (Scotland Yard detective): “Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”

Holmes: “To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”

Gregory: “The dog did nothing in the night-time.”

Holmes: “That was the curious incident.”[

 

The curious incident in the shale “debate” was the yawn with which the press received the news. (Here I remind readers that London Local Energy is far more than just myself).  It was especially curious because we had spoken to several journalists across a spectrum of outlets and all professed interest.  Several blamed their editors, who sit above the journos and especially in the UK profess to represent the concerns of the readership.  That was true whether the outlet is usually pro or anti shale.  Even if anti shale papers were uncomfortable rebutting  LLE’s climate narrative ,  the opposite should be true. One would think the right wing press would hop on the story to beat up climate activists.  Neither side of the debate barked.

Does the subjective notion, that public opposition is strong enough to make UK shale un-investable, have no more objective facts than those of fiery taps or the other myths? Certainly the whole shale debate is becoming a huge bore to the mainstream media.  Even Greenpeace’s Energy Desk wasn’t interested enough to report on the arrest of ten of their own activists in Lancashire on May 7.

Drill or Drop quoted above is the drop in site for UK shale drilling news, but even the redoubtable Ruth Hayhurst can only draw 884 subscribers to her email list and I’m sure at least a hundred are shale drillers themselves.

Then we had this from The Independent, a former newspaper now on line only, quoting Energy Desk and an activist (108 followers)

Companies hoping to take part in the Government’s promised fracking “revolution” have been “finding it a challenge” to get finance from British banks.

According to minutes of a meeting between the industry and a Government minister, some firms were “struggling” or “suffering”.

They added that some conventional oil and gas projects had been “affected by protests as well”, according to the civil servant’s notes.

I put it to the Conventional Wisdom, the same CW who didn’t see the emergence of US shale, US shale oil, surging efficiency, falling carbon intensity in China and last but not least the huge success of wind and sun power over the past five years, that they’ve missed the boat on the UK fracking opposition evaporates trend  too?

If anyone wants to prove this wrong, please add your name to the petition to ban “fracking” in London.  At 150 signatures over three weeks, it needs all the help it can get,  being unable to beat other causes such as the 186 opponents to closing a pub in Hitchin.

For the many, not the few. A decision for the many, not the FoE.

One of Labour’s manifesto commitments is to nationalise energy supply. As a potential producer London Local Energy  don’t have any skin in that game and remain neutral.  But in the case of UK on- and off-shore oil and gas, the energy itself is already nationalised  and has been since 1934- a policy success that some in Labour may not realise they had achieved.

All UK oil and gas is thus Crown property. The idea that greedy “frackers”  simply want to make money is thus a little more nuanced. What we want is what you want:  That the people’s resources are distributed fairly.

If LLE were allowed to explore, and then discover natural gas, the value of that gas would be taxed at roughly 50% via national and  borough taxes and charges to the community. Continue reading For the many, not the few. A decision for the many, not the FoE.

The demonstrably perverse outcome of environmental opposition to UK onshore gas.

This is the second part of the post I recently did for MyGridGB.  Only the title has changed:

The demonstrably  perverse outcome of environmental opposition to UK onshore gas.

One could simply jump to the end of this post to get the point: The lowest carbon natural gas is inarguably the nearest natural gas. If the UK continues to use natural gas, as it undoubtedly will for at least the next 15 years in generation and longer in heat, why choose to use high carbon natural gas?

The carbon intensity (CI) of UK electricity generation has been studied relentlessly, but little is known about the CI of natural gas. Much of this is due to both the physical nature of gas and how the provenance of UK natural gas is hard to define at any one point in time in a dynamic, constantly evolving marketplace. This from British Gas should be updated to 2016 figures of 79 BCM, mostly due to gas replacing coal, but the trends remain broadly true:

Continue reading The demonstrably perverse outcome of environmental opposition to UK onshore gas.

Are there advantages of UK onshore natural gas?

This was originally posted at MyGridGB.  Part 2, titled “The inarguably perverse outcome of environmental opposition to UK onshore gas” will be up there shortly.

Although the concept of a dynamic level of carbon intensity in electricity is well known to readers of My Grid, natural gas has been left out of the equation, much the same as natural gas has been lumped, excuse the pun, alongside coal and oil as ‘just another fossil fuel’.

Natural gas has a wide range of Carbon Intensity (CI) even within the UK gas grid. The second part of this post will demonstrate how significant that is and how onshore natural gas in the UK is not a threat to emissions but the opposite:  A way forward to decarbonise, as much as possible, UK natural gas supply.  But first, we have to talk about gas in general and try to understand the antipathy some UK greens have against it.

Firstly as this chart from the International Energy Agency shows, natural gas is responsible for less than 20% of world carbon emissions from energy combustion. Natural gas is not perfect. But it’s not perfectly evil either. Continue reading Are there advantages of UK onshore natural gas?

UK onshore natural gas is the lowest carbon natural gas possible: Shop Local First

Sometime soon, the  UK will  import LNG produced from US shale gas.  Shale gas is over 60% of all US production, and over 90% of new wells use the combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing.  It is no longer “unconventional” or “controversial” and is predicted to provide 70% of global natural gas production by 2040.

US LNG will have a carbon intensity  (CI) approaching, and possibly exceeding that of coal when used in electricity generation.  But gas from everywhere else – even as close as the UK North Sea- will also have a demonstrably higher CI.  In short,  the opposition of groups such as Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and The Green Party to local production of UK onshore natural gas, contrary to what they strongly believe, causes significant  increases  in  CO2 emissions on a local, national and global basis. Continue reading UK onshore natural gas is the lowest carbon natural gas possible: Shop Local First