**US coal is being chased into exile by the shale “revolution”: Replaced by cheaper shale gas at home, coal is shipped to Europe**, where it replaces more expensive liquefied gas imports in power generation. The foregone gas imports, in turn, move into Asia, where they are wanted at premium prices – among other uses, to substitute for the lack of nuclear power in Japan (you may remember reading about this phenomenon in a previous blog). In this way, European power generation is creating an unfortunate mirror image of the US: In Europe, the share of coal rises and the share of gas declines; in the US, the other way round. The consequences for carbon emissions are obvious.
Think of the sheer order of magnitude. Gas and coal account for about a quarter and a third of global energy consumption, respectively; renewables (without hydro) for a little more than 2%. Inescapably, this leads to the question whether CO2 targets are better served by advocating more global substitution from coal to natural gas, including shale gas, rather than by the gradual and expensive build-up of renewables alone. The argument to make better use of scale and global trade – for example by taking carbon pricing seriously – is strengthened by the efficiency with which the two fossil fuels are traded across borders and even continents, something not yet possible with the wind and the sun.
And so the question arises – what is it going to be, fear of fracking or the conscious advocacy of replacing more coal with natural gas on a global scale, including shale resources? I have my own guess on that one. Fracking is a local problem, carbon emissions are abstract and global. We know how these things tend to end. But for now the point is only that, in much of the environmental debate, the question isn’t even asked.
Planning permission should not be as onerous as it used to be the Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013, that obtained Royal Assent last April. My understanding is that the secretary of state can force these sort plans forward taking it out of the hands of local planning depts.
According to the Times the government is considering increasing the money paid to local communities who support shale development, from 1% to between 3 and 10% of revenue. The US shale companies make a profit even though they have to pay literally billions to landowners for development rights. In the UK they won't have to pay to landowners as underground resources belong to the Crown so they will have the revenue to reward UK locals (via the government) with shed loads of money, even if the inconvenience is minor. If just a fraction of the US amounts goes to UK local communities then you're talking about new hospitals and schools being built with shale money; which is likely to ease the planning permission process. Instead of sticking up barriers the local authorities should be exploring the US situation, getting their accountants to work and extracting a fair return for their area.
Well Peter Levine apparently sold one of his previous companies for a 4700% profit so he obviously knows a good bet when he sees one. Maybe other investors will wonder why he's getting into Igas and follow his example.
"my hope is that someone has looked at this and reckoned that the increase in short term emissions from manufacture is outweighed by mid-long term emissions reductions. "
My friend, you're barking up entirely the wrong tree. Manufacturers of wind-turbines or solar-power panels couldn't give a toss about emissions, carbon-footprint, nor anything like that. They're in business to make money, and anyone who isn't is a fool, or has money to throw away.
"my hope is that someone has looked at this and reckoned that the increase in short term emissions from manufacture is outweighed by mid-long term emissions reductions." Unfortunately, I don't think they have. The job I was recently involved with required the use of a 750-tonne Leibherr crane to get the derrick in place. This is an eighteen-wheeler lorry, not to mention the three other semis required to carry the accociated bits and pieces It's normal work id installing electrical windmills. Impressive kit, but not powered by solar. 680 hp diesel V8 for the carrier, plus 570 hp V6 for the crane part. Yeah, right 'ecological'.
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