A key objection to UK and European shale is that Europe is too crowded, a story any seach of this site will show I've addressed many times. According to the expert opinion, England's Green and Pleasant Land could be re-industrialized thanks to shale gas, and it's a valid question to ask. That was my immediate question when I first talked about shale here over four years ago. The debate isn't informed by pictures of vertical wells in Wyoming and similar blots on the landscape in the parts of North America where there is a lot more landscape than here. But the Europe is too crowded for natural gas myth is prevalent and is used by those who are alleged experts (but are more interested in pushing nuclear or coal ) and those who admit their ideas of what a gas field look like comes from the movies. In our debate yesterday on Voice of Russia Radio, Vanessa Vine of Frack Free Sussex and Fiona Harvey refused to believe UK shale gas development wouldn't look like a return to the industrial revolution. This picture of Jonah Field in Wyoming, a 1990's tight gas field has been used by not only shale antis but also by the BBC and Telegraph. Who would want to live here? Not me for sure, but the US doesn't all look like Wyoming, as not all the UK looks like the Cotswolds either.

As I noted last week, the FOE, Caroline Lucas and Greenpeace have a habit of holding up a Deutsche Bank report from 2011 as proof  UK and European shale gas will be far off and inconsequential on price. Even Tim Yeo, who should know better, mentioned the uncertainty of European shale this morning on Radio 4 Today. 

We should ask ourselves: How truly informed can we be today if we depend on a report over a year old? Especially when the author Michael Hsueh told me on Friday:

 Granted there have been some new developments which would warrant a review

This from a Barclays Capital Commodities Research 2013 European Energy Matters report by Trevor Sikorski report is dated yesterday. Not public domain by the way, but this is the full section on the report referred to by Bloomberg today. Will Caroline and the Greenpeace gang ignore this one just as much as they ignored the DECC report on shale reserves? They will, of course. But they need to ask can they keep on doing so?:

The subject of the size of the amounts of UK shale gas been open to much speculation and misunderstanding right from the start. Key opponents such as Damian Carrington of the Guardian have derided Cuadrilla's estimates from the very start and they have been consistent in insisting that we don't even have any gas, so why bother looking and full speed ahead, although whether that would be under wind, nuclear or coal isn't specified. The main thing is we don't have any gas anyway. Andrew Rawnsley famously told us the weekend previous: 

Then there is the huge hole at the heart of the frack-heads' dream. No one even knows yet how much shale gas can be profitably extracted. Estimates of the exploitable reserves vary wildly.

The explanation is geology. Shales in Europe are generally thinner and deeper, and therefore much more expensive to tap, than those that have been successfully exploited in the United States. And Britain looks likely to be one of the less promising prospects in Europe because its shales are typically among the thinnest.

The Daily Telegraph yesterday asked the question how much gas do we actually have without getting even close to providing an answer.The discussion is complicated by basic misunderstandings of the reserve and resource figures.This definition is from the Society of Petroleum Engineers may help

Unlike the inventory of a manufacturing company, reserves are physically located in reservoirs deep underground and cannot be visually inspected or counted, but rather are estimates based on the evaluation of data that provides evidence of the amount of oil and gas present. There is no definitive answer until the end of a reservoir's producing life. All reserve estimates involve some degree of uncertainty. The estimation of reserves volumes is generally performed by highly-skilled individuals who use their experience and professional judgment in the calculation of those volumes. 
 
Reserves represent that part of resources which are commercially recoverable and have been justified for development.
 
Meanwhile, this is the introduction to a presentation DECC made at Prospex in London last week. It hasn't  yet been published on the DECC site, but is in the public domain and I've placed the full report in the NHA Library to your right.

Right now is as good a time as any to understand some issues about both the UK electricity generation mix and a realistic assessment of the chances of both renewables and gas. In fact 1800 on December 12 is a really good time. Demand is likely to be one of the highest of the year. It's the perfect electrical storm:

It's a Tuesday - always a good demand day, better than the weekend or Friday

It's cold: It's not hit 0 degrees at Heathrow or most of England all day. It's also very foggy and we'll not get much solar gain (sunshine to most people) pouring through several millions windows.

While 85% of people use gas for central heating,  even that uses up more energy to run compressors and heat pumps. People with badly insulated homes will use electric heaters in cold spots

It's dark.That sounds obvious, but lighting use at it's annual peak at about 17 to 18. Everyone's still in the office, stores are open late, restaurants are at their peak Christmas party season and of course all those decorations. Throw in that demand with the domestic peak time. Dinner's cooking the TV's on, the lights are on, people come home and put the heat on etc etc.

Meanwhile the food processing industry is at it's peak.