UK shale gas cash should pay for carbon capture projects: report

16 Sep, 2015 12:29 pm

LONDON – Britain should use revenues from the shale gas industry to help fund the development of projects that capture carbon dioxide emissions and store them underground, a shale gas industry-funded task force said on Wednesday.

Britain is estimated to have substantial amounts of shale gas trapped in underground rocks and Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to go “all out for shale”, hoping it will help reduce dependence on energy imports and generate additional tax revenue.

But if Britain forges ahead with shale development it will need to develop carbon capture and storage (CCS) to make sure it can still meet emission reduction targets, the report by the Task Force on Shale Gas said.

“If a shale gas industry begins to develop at scale, CCS (carbon capture and storage) will become essential, and a CCS industry should be developed and grown concurrently,” it said.

CCS technology has so far failed to live up to early hopes of wide adoption to slow climate change.

After many years of research, Saskatchewan Power opened the world’s first coal-fired power plant retrofitted with CCS last year, but European utilities have struggled.

Chris Smith, chair of the task force, said it will take 4-5 years before any shale gas is extracted and that by then CCS technology should have progressed.

Britain’s government has committed one billion pounds for two CCS projects, one on a gas plant and one on a coal plant.

The gas project, being developed by Shell and SSE in Peterhead, Scotland, could be up and running by the end of the decade.

The report also said pilot studies should be set up to get a full picture of how many emissions are generated during the extraction process.

Hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, which injects water, sand and chemicals into rocks to release hydrocarbons, is used to release the shale gas from rock formations.

Studies have shown than methane, which is a powerful greenhouse gas, can leak from fracking wells.

The report said a so called “green completion process” should be mandatory on all fracking wells to capture the methane.

The task force was set up last year to examine the risks and benefits of shale gas extraction and says it is independent of its funders — Cuadrilla, Centrica, Total, Weir Group, Dow Chemical and GDF Suez E&P UK. -Reuters

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