Daniel Yergin was in the capital to deliver a lecture as part of a series celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Marshall Scholarships programme.
The US citizen studied for his doctorate at Cambridge University as a Marshall Scholar and is vice-chairman of business insights provider IHS, as well as the founder of IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates.
Yergin noted the positive impact of shale on the US, but said the energy source has been “rather demonised” on this side of the Atlantic.
The Scottish Government announced a moratorium on unconventional oil and gas last year, and while petrochemicals firm Ineos said recently that its Grangemouth site was in “great shape” to receive shale from the US, there have been concerns over the ethics of the fracking used to extract the gas.
Yelgin said the so-called shale revolution “came as a surprise” and “really redefined” global markets, and is this century’s biggest energy innovation, as wind and solar “were innovations of the 1970s and 1980s”.
He added that for the latter two energy sources, “if there’s a breakthrough on storage then that will make both solar and wind competitive on a scale that is not the case now. The question is, ‘what’s going to be the next big innovation?’”