The Institution of Civil Engineers has announced its policy position in relation to shale gas, confirming that it 'represents a promising additional source of energy that should be further investigated within an enhanced regulatory framework.'
Following the introduction of large scale drilling ('fracking') for shale gas in the US and subsequent reduction in US gas prices, significant efforts have been made to identify shale gas deposits in the UK, with a number of potential areas identified on either side of the Pennines and South of London.
ICE believes that gas represents an acceptable alternative to coal for baseload energy generation in the short to medium term, but that the need to pursue lower carbon solutions remains, and the potential to lower gas prices should not divert government attention from a focus on low carbon energy generation.
In addition, there are widespread environmental concerns related to the process of fracking, highlighted by earth tremors in Lancashire understood to have been caused by fracking. The vast land requirements of drilling for shale gas also raise questions over its long term viability in the relatively densely-populated UK.
ICE is therefore urging the government to outline its strategy on shale gas extraction and the contribution of this energy source to the UK's overall energy strategy. It is vital that the government confirm how this will be regulated, the cost of extraction, and how it will assist the UK meet its carbon reduction targets.
View ICE's shale gas policy paper.