I read Peter McClelland’s letter (“Shale gas promises are just another scam”, 18 February) with some interest. Critical assessment of complex subjects like fracking and shale-gas production does require both expert knowledge and extensive experience for their assessment.
However, the material Mr McClelland referred to could be gained by reading the website of any green fundamentalist organisation.
We know what these organisations oppose and we also know they rarely if ever consider cost as constraining their ambitions; they do select and exaggerate what evidence they provide to fit their ideology.
The current cost of gas per therm (100 cubic feet) in the United States of America is about 20p. Here it is 61p, a figure easily checked by examining market prices. The difference, of course, reflects several things but cheap shale gas is a major one.
Before fracking was approved by the Westminster government, an expert group was established and took a year to report. I prefer its assessment to Mr McClelland’s.
No technology is free of risk and accidents will always happen but, as in all things, cost and benefits are assessed.
In this case the benefits are considered, by those able to judge, to far outweigh the costs.
I can also assure Mr McClelland this post-fossil fuel era will certainly not happen in his lifetime nor those of his grandchildren.
There are several centuries’ worth of gas, oil and coal at current usage rates available and many thousands for nuclear if we care to use it.
There is more carbon in methane hydrates at the bottom of the ocean than in the total carbon of all living organisms, fossil fuels and atmosphere. Experimental investigations are being made to establish its exploitation.
(Prof) Tony Trewavas FRS FRSE
Scientific Alliance Scotland
North St David Street
I read with interest Peter McClelland’s letter.
But I must ask what is the extent and nature of his expertise. How reliable is the information on which he bases his argument?
Until an independent energy commission is established, free from the influence of vested interest and reporting directly to the community of citizens, we shall never know how cost effective, in comparison with the alternatives, the current strategy is in tackling the immense threat posed by global warming.
Peter McClelland uses emotive language like “toxic” and “polluting” to persuade us that shale gas is filthy.
Shale has transformed the US economy and brought gas prices down by two thirds.
It will bring cheaper energy and less reliance on foreign imports.
The global demand for electricity will increase by 80 per cent by 2030. Mr McClelland’s letter implies that he favours wind turbines so where will we get electricity from when the wind does not blow?
Is Mr McClelland afraid that lower shale gas prices would make highly subsidised wind turbines obsolete?
He writes of shale “scarring large tracts of the countryside” but it is the wind turbines which do this since a shale well-head can be housed in a garden shed.
His ground-water contamination ogre has frequently been used but a study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology stated: “With over 20,000 shale wells drilled in the last ten years, the environmental record of shale-gas development is for the most part a good one.”
The UK needs economic growth and shale gas will give us that with lower energy prices, price stability and fuel security. Do we really want to spend £200 billion on renewables subsidies over the next nine years when we have such wealth beneath our feet to power and heat the whole of Britain for centuries?
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