Calls for Gas to play a bigger role
More emphasis should be placed on gas in the UK's future energy strategy an influential consultants report says.
Written for Oil and Gas UK, the new report by Pöyry Energy in Oxford, says more emphasis should be placed on gas power at the core of the UK's strategy for energy generation rather than renewable sources.
“In pursuit of the target of sourcing 15 per cent of our energy from renewables, the Government is overlooking the continued potential of gas in meeting our energy needs in a cost efficient, technically feasible and environmentally friendly manner,” says David Odling, energy policy manager for Oil and Gas UK after studying the report by Pöyry Energy Consulting, which is based in Finland.
Odling points out that gas is the preferred energy source for heating 80% of UK homes and provides 40% of the energy for electricity generation.
On behalf of the UK offshore oil and gas industry, he has voiced fears that the gas industry could be marginalised as the government drives for more renewable energy.
“The knock-on effect is that firms are not being encouraged to think about investing in gas-fired power generation in the long-term, which is exactly what is required to fill the emerging electricity gap,” Odling claims.
Gareth Davies, one of the authors of the Pöyry report for the UK's energy lobby group adds: “With the focus on short-term, stretching renewable targets, we risk losing sight of the longer-term objective of energy sector decarbonisation.”
Continued use of gas, the cleanest-burning fossil fuel, would give time for new technologies and supply chains to establish themselves, according to the report. Emissions from gas-fired power stations can be captured and pumped underground in future, it said.
“Our view is that a deliberate policy to reduce gas’s share of the energy mix represents a flawed pathway for society to progress toward decarbonisation,” according to the report.
The 2020 renewables target should be revised and a more realistic timescale set, Davies said. The goal is likely to be missed and is a distraction from the aim of an 80 per cent emissions cut by 2050 from 1990 levels, he said.
Odling said industry leaders should be more vocal in making the case for gas worldwide as well as in Britain. BP Plc Chief Executive Officer Tony Hayward called the production of gas from shale formations in the U.S. a “quiet revolution” in a speech in October last year.
“The message simply hasn’t got through,” Odling said. The fear that oil and gas are to be found “in countries where there are potential difficulties” has “got into the body politic.”