Lord Deben may have this week (12 December) given the green light for fracking, but shale gas is by no means the definitive answer to the UK’s energy problems, says Darren Farrar at Schneider Electric. 

The chairman of the Government’s climate change advisory body told The Times newspaper that Britain needed to drill shale wells to reduce reliance on imported fossil fuels.  While he is absolutely right that the UK needs to have a more independent energy supply, pinning all of our hopes on shale gas is not a sustainable solution.

Lord Deben said that people should be concerned about the security of their energy supplies, and we are – which is why we would advocate the establishment of a diverse energy portfolio. 

Energy companies operating in this country have historically been very involved in developing and investing in renewable and low carbon technologies, but with tax breaks on early profits for companies extracting shale gas; it is a concern that the quest for green energy is dropped in favour of more profitable revenue streams.

Estimates suggest that shale gas reserves could provide up to 40 years’ supply to British homes and businesses, but what happens when it runs out?  What is our Plan B?  A third of our coal and oil-fired power stations will be closed by 2015, natural gas reserves are almost exhausted and although there is promise of outside investment, there is no certain future for nuclear power.

We need a mix of resources to supply the country’s growing demand for energy. Shale gas can of course be part of that mix, but not at the expense of investment in alternative technologies which we will one day rely on to keep our homes warm, our cars moving and our industry turning.

Schneider Electric