Shale Gas News and Information
A conversation the UK needs to have
- Published on 03 June 2010
Spectra Energy is one of North America's leading pipeline operators so they would say this wouldn't they. But it's hard to understand why infrastructure operators in Europe, and especially the UK don't engage politicians the way Spectra does
I'm not sure I want to fight the battle of a more measured approach to renewables. But wouldn't it be nice to have a more measured approach to nuclear and CCS? If someone in the UK spoke truth to power it should sound something like this:
Ontario is rushing too quickly into expensive renewable energy plays, when natural gas offers some breathing room on energy supply, says Greg Ebel.
Ebel has an interest in the issue. As chief executive of Houston-based Spectra Energy, which owns Union Gas, he’s in the natural gas pipeline business.
But Ebel says the development of shale gas deposits has so vastly increased reserves of relatively clean energy in North America that there’s time to take a more measured approach to renewables.
Ebel figures that today’s shale reserves give North America a 100-year supply of gas. That’s a reservoir than should allow North America to dramatically lessen its burning of coal and oil, he says.Coal-burning electric plants in the U.S. can be rapidly converted to gas, he said. And he thinks commercial vehicle fleets could be converted to natural gas on a huge scale.
He also argues that the massive supply will also keep prices far more stable than over the past decades.
“I literally believe that the technology changes around shale may be as dramatic as going from the horse and buggy to the car,” Ebel said.
Note that the words security of supply weren't mentioned. Shale gas has a direct impact on UK gas prices today. To think that shale is a US only play, and we should continue down the CCS dead end, flies in the face of geologic logic.
Ontario is signing big contracts with wind and solar-powered generators, at high prices. (Consumers currently pay about 6 cents a kilowatt hour for the energy portion of their electric bill. Wind generators will get 13.5 cents, and solar generators from 44 to 80 cents.)
Ramping up natural gas-fired generation would produce power relatively cleanly, and at far less cost, Ebel argues.
“I think the gift of natural gas is giving us time to make the transition, so you don’t kill the economy,” he said.
Ontario’s Green Energy Act, introduced by former energy minister George Smitherman, is likely to have too drastic an effect, he said.
“I don’t think he fully recognized the massive benefits of natural gas, or of having a balanced approach to energy.”
Which can also be said about Gordon Brown, Ed Miliband and Alistair Buchanan. But one guy is still there.