Hidden within the budget of austerity, is hope for the future:
Green groups reacted with dismay, arguing that the government had missed the chance to create green jobs and a low-carbon economy.
George Osborne told MPs: “Gas is cheap, has much less carbon than coal and will be the largest single source of our electricity in the coming years. And so the energy secretary will set out our new gas generation strategy in the autumn to secure investment. I also want to that ensure we extract the greatest possible amount of oil and gas from our reserves in the North Sea.”
But what about the far larger potential of UK onshore gas? Simplly because the chancellor didn’t mention it, there is increasing hope that outside of DECC/Ofgem are becoming far more aware of shale potential through the creation of a new committee:
The chair of a new committee that will report to George Osborne on how the UK’s “natural capital” is being used was also named as part of the budget announcements. Dieter Helm is an economics professor at Oxford who has long been one of Osborne’s most prized advisers, particularly on energy, and he is a keen supporter of gas. In his new role, he will give advice on when, where and how natural assets – including water and land – are being used unsustainably.
Dieter Helm’s appointment is realy important. Dr Helm has been one of the the name brand energy experts here in the UK, but he’s one with a twist: He’s a big shale fan, almost as bullish as I, as hard as that may seem: This from a presentation he made in Warsaw in December 2011:
Helm said that questions like: “Will the shale gas happen worldwide?”, should be replaced by discussions about how big shale gas production will be.
We have shale gas in Europe. In terms of the rock structures, almost everywhere in Europe.” – said the EU expert, though warning that exploration was in very early stages and significance of this resources would remain unclear for some time.
On the other hand, the very possibility of a new source of production has already influenced the market.
“Just the physical existence, is a constraint to what others can do. This changes a security game.”
That bodes well that UK shale won’t be staying in the ground anytime soon. It’s especially notable that as an economist first and energy expert second he doesn’t cling to outdated concepts. Further proof is that unlike the Ofgem/Centrica/Gazprom troika, he has even less time for their pet theory:
Conventional view on security of supply is we`re declining now and because oil price is going to go up, gas is going to be linked, so it`s going up too. And renewables are going to be cheap comparatively.” – he explained.
“Unfortuntely peak oil theory is a nonsense” – said Dieter Helm – “The problem is not too little oil, gas and coal but too much of them. Prices are going up – this is totally wrong.”
Chairman of Roadmap 2050 ad hoc Advisory Group supports the idea of using gas as the fastest and most solid bridge to the decarbonized future.
“You have to ask: is there a better way of attacking the issue? Is there a way of cutting increasing coal burn quickly? Yes, there is– it`s called gas.” he said.
There is an alternative to austerity.Under not only our noses, but also our feet. It’s called shale.