As market conditions remain unstable, the new government drive for renewable energy will not be enough to meet the UK’s energy needs. As a result it is more important than ever for regulators to allow Operators to leverage local resources to ensure the UK’s energy resilience.
Industry experts are predicting that low oil prices are here to stay in the short-term at least, and as 2016 approaches, a challenging future faces the UK Oil & Gas industry. This is amplified further by the declining production in the North Sea. The other impending issue the UK government needs to address is that of climate change, especially in light of the recent Paris climate change agreement.
To effectively address that, we need ‘a mixture of renewables, nuclear and energy efficiency and other low-carbon sources of energy […] shale gas provides a bridge’, according to Lord Chris Smith, Chair of the Task Force on Shale Gas.
Germany is an example of a European country leading the way in terms of renewables, but the reality is it continues to burn vast amounts of coal. With an unrelenting drive for the sustainability of renewable energy in the UK, population density and geographical location are two limiting factors in its potential for this country and of course, energy storage remains a huge challenge for renewables.
The fact is that today, renewables cannot match the amount of energy the population currently consumes and in the short to medium term that will probably continue to be the case. Demand, economic drivers and the need for energy security mean that other sources are required.
To this end, shale oil and gas are immediate alternatives that offer a viable solution in the short-to-mid term and it is something that UK energy regulators need to seriously consider accelerating. Shale oil and gas offer a far cleaner way to increase energy supplies in the short term, while renewables continue to develop.
In our last blog, we looked at how feasible frac’ing in the UK actually is and concluded that the expertise and, crucially, the key monitoring technologies are already available and ready for operators to use. While there are some significant barriers to overcome before frac’ing becomes a widespread practice across the UK, it would be prudent for the government and regulators to plan ahead and ensure that shale oil and gas remain an integral part of the future UK energy mix.