One of the biggest questions facing us as a country is how we solve the energy trilemma; keeping the lights on, getting bill-payer costs down, and decarbonising our energy sector.
Shale gas is a fantastic opportunity for the UK to make huge progress on tackling the trilemma, and one that I am keen we embrace in a safe and sustainable manner.
Gas currently accounts for nearly 40 per cent of household energy use. We use it in our homes for heating and cooking, and in businesses and factories across the country. The question is not whether we want gas or not, but instead where we get it from. Or more specifically, do we want to have to rely on imported gas from abroad for our domestic energy needs?
The extraction of shale gas in the UK can help bring us closer to energy independence, and removes the reliance on foreign markets for our energy which currently account for over 40 per cent of our gas needs. This is all while creating jobs throughout the country; giving economic growth to some of our more deprived areas as we move away from the dirty days of unabated coal, and look to access the 1,300 trillion cubic feet of domestic shale gas in the north of England alone.
More importantly, shale gas can provide us with the means to lower our carbon footprint which is essential for ensuring future generations do not have to deal with devastating effects of runaway climate change. Currently, the UK is dependent on coal for 22 per cent of our electricity generation, with coal being one of the highest carbon producing fossil fuels. By embracing shale gas, we can lower our carbon footprint as we invest more in renewable sources and nuclear energy, securing a low carbon future for the next generation.
I do know that people are concerned about the safety of shale gas extraction. What I can tell them is that the UK has decades of experience in the safe regulation of oil and gas exploration, and our world-class independent regulators have developed the strictest and safest regulations regarding shale gas extraction – we will continue to work with the sector to ensure that safety is always first and foremost.
Shale gas has the potential to be a great economic and energy asset to the UK: creating thousands of jobs, giving us greater energy security, and allowing us to take further steps towards a renewable future.