Fracking in the UK
A short answer detailing the potential positives and negatives of fracking
Should fracking be introduced in the UK?
The debate surrounding the potential for hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for shale gas in the United Kingdom (UK) is extensive. There are arguments which are persuasive for both the introduction and the prohibition of fracking operations in the UK. Opponents of fracking activities cite concerns with the potential for environmental degradation, potential human health impacts and the occurrence of a fossil fuel lock-in situation developing (Bomberg, 2015). However, there is a compelling case for the use of shale gas as a transition fuel in the UK. Shale gas has lower associated carbon emissions in comparison to other fossil fuels, therefore the increased use of shale gas as preferential to other fossils fuels would aid in the attainment of the UK carbon emissions reduction targets (Burnham et al., 2011). In addition, the shale gas reserves of the UK are predicted to provide between 20 to 50 years of the UK’s energy demand (Hammond et al., 2015). Given the dwindling reserves of other fossil fuel resources in the UK, the use of shale gas could significantly increase the UK’s energy security in the short term.
Shale gas extracted by fracking is not a long term solution to meet the energy demands of the UK. It is evident that there are short term benefits of using shale gas resources, the extent of their usefulness depends on the percentage of the known reserves which are extractable. Thus, it is recommended that fracking activities should be allowed to take place in the UK with the provision that they are seen as a transition fuel to a more renewable based energy mix.
Burnham, A., Han, J., Clark, C.E., Wang, M., Dunn, J.B. and Palou-Rivera, I., 2011. Life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions of shale gas, natural gas, coal, and petroleum. Environmental science & technology, 46(2), pp.619-627.
Bomberg, E., 2015. Shale we drill? Discourse dynamics in UK fracking debates. Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning, pp.1-17.
Hammond, G.P., O’Grady, Á. and Packham, D.E., 2015. Energy Technology Assessment of Shale Gas ‘Fracking’–A UK Perspective. Energy Procedia, 75, pp.2764-2771.