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back to article Shale gas frees Europe from addiction to Putin's Pipe

Shale gas extraction in Western Europe will dramatically change the geopolitical landscape, according to a report by a think-tank backed by the US Department of Energy. The Baker Institute estimates that with shale as little as 13 per cent of Europe's gas imports will come from Russia by 2040, compared to 27 per cent today. The …

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Stop

Shale gas....is it safe?

One of the problems with Shale Gas is that it's not considered safe by many parties. I live near an experiment being conducted at Poulton-Le-Fylde, Lancashire and drilling has been stopped there while investigations are being carried out to see if the drilling (or should I say the explosions) were the cause of a minor earth quake felt in Blackpool.

There is also the environmental problems this type of drilling can incur, such as the release of methane into the water supply.

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@ByeLaw1

"Shale gas....is it safe?"

..a different, but still interesting question, is how economically feasible it is as well - there were some enlightening emails published by the New York Times a couple of weeks ago. Some of them sounded remarkably like people from potentially competing providers just bitching - many, however, were very interesting.

I recommend a look - especially the ones dealing with productivity decline rates. Below are the 3 main entry points if you don't have them - the first is the main article, then an opinion piece (a counter opinion of sorts) by the NYT Public Editor, and finally the response to that.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/26/us/26gas.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/17/opinion/sunday/17pubed.html

http://publiceditor.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/07/17/times-editors-respond-to-my-shale-gas-column/

There is much to be excited about with the possibilities afforded by improved shale gas extraction - but there are also indications that the hype surrounding some claims is just that..

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Boffin

ByeLaw101

Well you might like to keep in mind (If you're concerned about the scenes in "Gaslands") that Shrubs little gift to the Oil & Gas industry was an *exception* from the Clean Air & Clean Water acts.

So *no* issues with contamination and they can pump anything they like down to fracture the rock and recover the oil/gas. IE any cheap nasty s**t they can find on the open market.

UK and European rules are a bit stricter on this.

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Alert

read between the lines

"as little as 13 per cent of Europe's gas imports will come from Russia by 2040, compared to 27 per cent today."

So not a huge change then? 14% of our energy will come from somewhere else in 19 years?

I wish the energy situation was that stable! we'll be lucky to even concieve where the energy will be coming from in 19 years

and where in europe is this stuff?

right i'm off to read that pdf, mostly between the lines..

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or even....

how much it will cost by then. the rate its all going up i shudder to think of the yearly cost for fuel, gas and leccy in 20 years!

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FAIL

2040 is more than 19 years from now

It's a good job we have computers to do arithmetic for us these days, isn't it?

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need more research

If governments are worried about energy security then they should be leading research into safer extraction - the contamination and instability issues make wind look like a walk in the park to implement. Better to work on it now than use inferior gonzo techniques when the chips are down.

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Joke

If only we could burn rocks

Oh wait ....

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Megaphone

a title

The other part of the solution is to use what we do have a lot more efficiently.

The gov't here seem to be ignoring the fact there are a host of small companies developing micro-generators that are able to produce very high levels of efficiency.

Notably the Bluegen machine that is able to produce achieve 60% efficiency burning gas (upto 85% if you use the hot water byproduct)

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Re: Methan in the water supply

Are you guys talking about that sham in the gaslands film? That has been proven to be complete bollocks. I'm not saying Shale Gas extraction is safe or otherwise but the Gaslands film was a farce and that whole "setting fire to the water" thing was nonsense - and they have admitted so.

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Anonymous Coward

links?

I have seen debunkings and debunkings of the debunkings but never an admission of "We faked it" from the guy who made it.

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Anonymous Coward

Rhetoric ain't science

A PR firm for the Petroleum industry has issued some rhetoric, which you seem to have swallowed. None of it was proof of anything beyond the point of deceptive PR practices.

Please provide some links to the filmmakers' alleged admission of nonsense.

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Unhappy

Not that we'd ever see the price decrease in our energy bills, mind...

... All the drops in price will be absorbed as "operating profits" by the gas companies.

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Boffin

promises promises

Shale gas has been going to save the world for like forty years. And still, after all these years, nobody can get at the stuff and still make a profit. Seems like some progress has been made, but it means frac-ing (hydraulic fracturing) the formations to the point that gas (and all its nasty companions like H2S) get into local water tables. I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for shale gas.

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Just burning up more stuff

I was put off the idea of shale gas extraction by a Johann Hari podcast where he explored the local environmental impact of the process, like toxic groundwater, etc. It sounded really awful.

I'm no environmental expert but it sounds to me like shale is only the way forward to the kind of people with an interest in keeping things more or less as they are, burning up stuff.

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(Written by Reg staff) Bronze badge

Re: Just burning up more stuff

> I was put off the idea of shale gas extraction by a Johann Hari podcast where he explored the local environmental impact of the process <

Mmm.

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Was waiting for that

Haha, very good! I was wondering if someone would comment on that. He really has ruined his reputation, hasn't he?

Nevertheless, toxic groundwater remains toxic no matter who points it out.

(His alternative career of intellectual portrait artist has foundered on the rocky shores of common sense, but Hari does remain a journalist. He's not bad at it, to be fair)

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CC

Don't copy how the US does it

The US has been using their "Fracking" method to extract gas but in the process the method itself is destroying underground fresh water supplies both with gas and Fracking Liquid used to extract gas.

A common problem withing miles of Fracking is people turning their water on which is now highly flamable and the ingestion of the water makes you sick.

Also, the US drilling companies will not tell even the US DOE what chemicals they are using in the Fracking siting "Trade Secret".

What ever you do, DON'T Follow the US as their methods are creating more problems than they will ever be able to resolve.

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Yet More Irresponsible Reporting

Oh well - another irresponsible article re energy. Shale gas, like most "new energy technologies" are simply hot air dreams.

When will people eventually wake up and realise that weve gone past peak oil and peak gas is almost here and that WE REALLY should just get used to the fact that we all need to use MUCH LESS energy and start to engage and educate society in this matter - quickly.

We simply do not have enough Oil and Gas energy reserves left to fuel the industry required to construct and build, on the necessary global industrial scale needed, any "new tech power generation" of the future.

We did have, but that was back in the 1970's and we chose to turn a blind eye to it all and have a 35 year holiday on the back of cheap north sea oil and gas here in the UK, racking up debt and enjoying the illusion of wealth that artifical cheap oil prices afforded us. Well hello..... its all over now. Oh and this time there going to be no magic cheap energy supply to kick start any form of economic recovery either.

There is only one true renewable clean energy in abundance on this planet and its SOLAR - and we dont have enough oil and gas reserves left to even think about building enough solar PV/Thermal panels to a high enough efficiency spec to get that wokring to keep pace with the demand required by our current society.

So get used to using less, much less energy and pretty quickly.

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Flame

Not just solar

Solar energy also drives wind energy through convection in the atmosphere. Collecting wind energy in suitable locations already compares favourably in cost to fossil fuels with CCS, or if C02 externalities (e.g. through increasing climate damage actuarial insurance calculations) are factored in. Solar is also coming down in price quicker than wind, but still has some way to catch up. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cost_of_electricity_by_source#UK_2010_estimates

The main article is also wrong and irresponsible (I upvoted your post) in the sense it ignores research indicating existing hydro dam potential for stored energy resources are suitable for balancing variable wind generation output up to 40% wind penetration of UK electricity supply.

http://www.esru.strath.ac.uk/EandE/Web_sites/03-04/wind/content/conclusions.html

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Facepalm

RE: Not just solar

Solar? Wind? Hydro maybe, but at what cost and at how many locations? Puh-lease, can all the hippies get their heads out of the sand and just admit they were wrong and we do need more nuke power stations.

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Oh Grow up...

The difficulty is that most current conversations about the future of energy are trying to figure out an answer without first making sure that what’s being asked is the right question....

“How can we keep an electrical grid designed around the unquestioned availability of cheap abundant energy?” is the obvious question, and it’s also the wrong one.

The right question – the question that we should be asking – is something more like “How much electricity can we count on having in a future after fossil fuels, and what are the best ways to produce, distribute, and use it?”

That question has hardly been asked at all.

Nuclear Energy is only relatively cheap due to the VERY LARGE GOVERNMENT SUBSIDIES it receives. Take them away and reviewing what's sustainable and cost effective becomes a whole different conversation. Nuclear is bound to be a part of our short/medium term energy package - but don't look for single answers to big problems. Nuclear generated in Northern Europe provides a significant percentage of Electricity in the South East of England - Germany is closing its services down, they say due to Fukashima safety concern issues, however the truth is that the water table in Northern Europe is dropping and the reality is that there simply wont be enough River water for the land locked German Power stations in the coming Decades. So that's Rolling power cuts in the South East by 2020 anyway.

Its not about Hippies and personal insults - its about trying to ensure a future for my children and, dare I say it, people like you too.... I take it you'd like that? a future that is ... or maybe you'd like to go to Somalia right now and check out the real life effects of real adversity. Grow up.

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FAIL

RE: Oh Grow up...

".....Nuclear Energy is only relatively cheap due to the VERY LARGE GOVERNMENT SUBSIDIES...." So your answer is ignore nukes, despite them being a proven source that we know can generate the power required on demand, and just pour even larger subsidies into unproven tree-hugger tech like wind and solar? Both of which are largely unsuitable for the UK, rediculously expensive, cannot produce enough energy anyway even when they are working, and are unreliable and unpredictable in general in the amount of energy they can provide. And you want me to gorw up? I suggest you stop smoking whatever it is and admit nukes will have to provide the backbone of our future energy plans (well, realistic ones if we stop the vote-pandering politicians playing political football with our futures). They will at least give us a breathing space to develop something new to replace them. Or can I suggest you have a presonal stake in the windfarm scams currently running as "clean energy" schemes?

And the idea of Somalia? Somalia's problems are largely political, nothing to do with their inability to build nukes or windfarms. How rediculous a comparison is that! How about comparing to France, which ignored the hippies and built a viable nuke industry? And for your information, I was personally involved in relief work to Ethiopa back in the day, something I can comfortably predict is a lot more involved that you have been in Africa's problems. So I can suggest you not only need to grow up, you also need to go get some real World experiences before you start slating others.

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Don't get the wind up

I worked at an ISO in the US last year; the only way wind is any sort of profitable is massive subsidies. It has its advantages, but it's not (currently) cheap.

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Anonymous Coward

B*llocks!

When was UK gas cheap? There is still an abundance of gas in the North Sea and oodles of coal left in the UK - but we're not allowed to burn that anymore since the UK has to take the stance of being first in line all the time (reducing emissions, alternative energy, paying for vaccines abroad, paying for people in non life sustaining areas to be able to live there for another 5 years at a time etc. etc.) so we just suffer instead with insance prices.

It's all very well spouting off about learning to use less - many already do but there's only so far you can take that unless you want to live under candle light again.

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get real guido fawkes...

UK Gas was cheap until recent times, just look back to the 80's and early 90's. The fact that there is coal and gas reserves left does not mean lets close our eyes to the facts and just carry on as if nothing was wrong. We will need ALL these reserves to be used very sparingly and for a very long time in the not too far future - certainly in the next 10 yeras and definitely in our lifetime.

As far as using less - well we havn't even started to get a glimpse of what that means and as far as candle lights concerned, well there are many parts of the world who do that every night, they never got electricity... but hey thats all right cos you want to charge your smartphone, watch TV and play games on your console and PC and generally dont get it ... right?

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Unhappy

Shale Gas Extraction is Not New

Fracking is a problem because it ruins 2 million gallons of fresh water per hole (or more). The casing on the well is what leaks methane and rotten eggs into the aquifers. This is a matter of codes and inspections. The world is awash in methane, there's very little money in extracting it unless you cut corners.

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Anonymous Coward

At 4 $US / mcf* there is little incentive for lease holders ...

to develop a play. At the moment many of those lease holders are trying to hype the potential of these sites and even though it has become obvious that many quickly loose output capacity, they hype them even further and try to sell the 'assets' to some other gullible sub-co, they call it "flipping plays", just like one would buy a run down house, fix it up and resell for a profit. The new owner, who then finds that they can't make a dime on it and either goes broke or off loads it onto some other sucker. Stinks of Enron all over again. Pumping up the value of fictive assets and selling them off to suckers hyped up on fairy tails of huge profits.

The problem, of course, is that our governments are caving in to the lobbyists from the oil and gas industry (and not relying on scientific advice), hoping for lucrative positions in those companies after their political tenures have expired. Conflict of interests, not only here in DE but the UK and USA as well. That's exactly what happened to Schoeder, gave up his political career to work for Putin and Gazprom, and what did 'das Volk' get for it? Cut throat contracts for natural gas, tied to the price of oil, and we can't land a single cubic foot of LPG at our harbors, from the world markets where it is as cheap as hell at the moment.

At a time where potable water resources are getting less by the year, estimates suggest that by 2030 45% of the world population will not have clean drinking water. Look at what this issue is doing to communities in India and the Middle Eastern countries:

http://www.environmentalleader.com/2009/11/25/scarce-water-resources-a-growing-business-risk/

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/25/your-money/25iht-mwater26.1.12339292.html

and then consider the impact of Fracking on our underground and surface water reserves. How can we pump tonnes of chemicals down there and not expect that some of it will seep up and poison our drinking and irrigation supplies? There is no 'clean up' option once that happens.

It's all short term greed driven and they** don't give a f*&k what happens to the rest of us.

* mcf = thousand cubic foot

** politicians and big oil/gas

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Gold badge
Unhappy

Dobby won't be pleaased.

He likes the to think of the gas supply like a human neck he can squeeze to apply a bit of pressure.

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Gazprom and Ukraine

"...Gazprom, has used its gas exports as a political weapon: most recently turning off the tap to the Ukraine..."

Ukraine had not paid for some gas they had already been supplied (over 1bn US$, AFAIR) and failed to agree a new contract with Gazprom. As they had warned, Gazprom stopped supplying gas to Ukraine when the contract ran out. Ukraine then stole gas being piped through Ukraine intended for other countries.

When finished, the Nord Stream pipeline should avoid future supply problems in intermediary countries (much to the annoyance of Poland and Estonia, who had both hoped to interject themselves into gas supplies to Western Europe). Similar pipeline developments in Southern Europe should provide further diversity in gas supplies.

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JC_

Poland & Estonia Have a Very Good Point.

It's to the annoyance of Poland and Estonia because bilateral energy deals with Russia are in direct contradiction of the requirement that EU negotiates as a single body. Putin's aim is to divide and conquer, and Gerhard Schroder has done his best to enable this. If middle & eastern European countries see that the western countries won't stand with them, then they'll be forced to cut the best deal they can with Russia; when this happens to all EU countries it leaves them all at a disadvantage.

When dealing with gangsters, you can either stick together or hang separately.

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Trollface

Look on the bright side!

Surely it's better than using relatively cheap, reliable energy from those evil nuclear power plants. Wouldn't you rather sit in the dark with a candle during one of the rolling blackouts your future holds in store for you, or perhaps shiver in some blankets because gas is too expensive, than commit a cardinal sin of environmentalism?

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pedantry

There is no need to use the definite article when referring to Ukraine. It's just "Ukraine", not "the Ukraine".

http://www.infoukes.com/faq/the_ukraine/

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nabucco

hey peeps, you're almost free! hang in there lol

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Paris Hilton

less cocky

OK, Iran and Venezuela will be less cocky. Good.

Now, what would it take for superpowers to be less cocky?

Cocky icon obviously...

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WTF?

Think people are missing point on this one

Russia is not a post communism success story, but a failed state 'run' by especially savage shitheels yearning to (and succeeding) return to it's, excuse me while I gag, 'former glory'. A 50% reduction in energy imports is a smart strategic move.

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Coat

So ...

... Russia hasn't changed in 1000 years then.

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Bronze badge

The One True Energy Source

Solar power is good, a bit more realistic than wind power.

But really, if we want as much energy as we can pay for, when we want it, then aside from fossil fuels, there's just one choice. Nuclear.

Not renewable, but we have enough for hundreds of years, provided we don't waste the U-238 - that is, we breed and reprocess.

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The Nuclear maths dont work

There are many reasons for thinking that trying to maintain an electrical grid on a regional or national scale in a future of scarce energy is a fool’s game. To run a large-scale grid of the sort currently in use, you need to be able to produce huge amounts of power every second of every day. It’s very difficult to get that much power that reliably by any means other than burning a lot of fossil fuels, either directly – say, in a coal- or gas-fired power plant – or indirectly. Tot up the total energy content of the fossil fuels needed to mine and refine uranium and urn it into fuel rods, to build, maintain, and decommission a nuclear reactor, to deal with the short-term and long-term waste, and to account for a share of the energy cost of the inevitable accidents, for example, and you’ll have a sense of the scale of the energy subsidies from fossil fuels that prop up nuclear power; do the same math for today’s giant wind turbines, and a similar realization is in store. Lacking these subsidies, it’s probably a safe bet that nuclear reactors and giant wind turbines can’t be built or maintained at all.

Equally, having all that power on call every second of every day is necessary for an electrical grid of the modern kind. It’s not actually necessary for homes and small businesses. Again, get rid of social habits that amount to wasting energy for the sake of wasting energy, and it’s not that hard to live with an intermittent electrical supply, either by using electricity whenever it happens to be available and not otherwise, or by using batteries to store up current for a short time until you need it.

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Silver badge
FAIL

RE: The Nuclear maths dont work

Why is it that whenever a Greenpecker gets on his moral hobbyhorse and starts fudding nucleur, they can never actually provide any sensible maths to back up their arguments? I've seen all types of male bovine manure figures plucked from the air by Greenpeckers that all fall to pieces under scrutiny.

"....To run a large-scale grid of the sort currently in use, you need to be able to produce huge amounts of power every second of every day...." Yes, nukes can do that, every day, reliably. Wind can't, tidal can't, and solar (in the UK at least) can't.

".....Tot up the total energy content of the fossil fuels needed to mine and refine uranium and urn it into fuel rods...." You mean ignore the market price for Uranium, which is what we actually pay as we don't mine Uranium in the UK? Can I also ignore the total energy that goes into fossil fuel extraction? How about the fossil fuels used in producing windfarms and then maintaining them? Most windfarms seem to be out in the middle of nowhere, requiring lots of trucks for daily maintenance. And that's big trucks with heavy-lift cranes. And then you have to build the roads to get to the windfarm sites, seeing as they tend to be out in the hills. Of course, if we had a massive number of nukes, we could simply switch to battery-powered diggers and the like for extracting the Uranium, and nuke-powered ships to transport it, and even use nuke-derived electricity to write articles to educate people like you.

".....and to account for a share of the energy cost of the inevitable accidents...." How many accidents? IIRC, the British nuke power industry still has a lower accident rate per worker than any other energy source in the UK! And yes, that includes people injured in the work building windfarms (which, by the way, will also have to be "decommissioned" when they wear out). I can't really compare to solar as, in the UK, it;s such a trivial enterprise as to not have any figures available yet.

"....It’s very difficult to get that much power that reliably by any means other than burning a lot of fossil fuels..." Male bovine manure! Nukes have been doing it for years.

Once again, I direct you to the case of France, which doesn't seem to have had a problem funding their nuke industry, and is now a net exporter of energy. We in the UK could have been at least as well prepared for the end of fossil fuels as France, if the politicians had ignored the hippies and built more nuke stations, it's as simple as that. I suggest you go back to IndyMedia or wherever and leave the thinking to the adults.

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Sadly, Wind and Wave Energy Affects the Atmosphere

Taken from New Scientist Report:

"Large-scale exploitation of wind energy will inevitably leave an imprint in the atmosphere," says Kleidon. "Because we use so much free energy, and more every year, we'll deplete the reservoir of energy. Although the winds will not die, sucking that much energy out of the atmosphere in Kleidon's model changed precipitation, turbulence and the amount of solar radiation reaching the Earth's surface. The magnitude of the changes was comparable to the changes to the climate caused by doubling atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (Earth System Dynamics, DOI: 10.5194/esd-2-1-2011).

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21028063.300-wind-and-wave-farms-could-affect-earths-energy-balance.html?full=true&print=true

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Anonymous Coward

title

I always wondered what kind of knock on effects there would be from harvesting renewable energies (I'm guessing solar energy is lumped in with renewable because of the sheer timescales involved in its lifespan, else solar should really come under "non-renewable", just for the practicalities of the human species, it will outlive us) as you never really hear of anyone questioning the downsides of them outside of the economic and nimby aspect. Thanks for the link!

Here's another question: geo-thermal energy, what would be the downside of drawing heat away from the planet at a rate that far exceeds the naturally occurring loss of heat?

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Facepalm

RE: Sadly, Wind and Wave Energy Affects the Atmosphere

Ah, I think I've just spotted the Everest Solar Thermal panels salesman.

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FAIL

Wasted energy

And lots of it....

Burning gas or running nukes produces a shedload of waste heat - which should be used for something other than heating up the atmosphere or water in the immediate vicinity of the plant.

Improving the efficiency of the process would go a long way towards reducing consumption - especially considering the law of diminishing returns effects on improving efficiency of power distribution (higher voltages, heavier cables = NIMBYs and metal thieves) and building insulation (the payback period on most houses is in the order of 20 years, if at all)

Regarding Hydro - it takes a LONG time to bring more generating capacity. A 600MW turbine takes almost an hour to bring up to speed and it's extremely wasteful/expensive to have "spinning reserve" ready for all the kettles going on in the next adbreak in Coronation St.

Hydro/Nuke = baseload. Wind/wave/solar = variable. Gas/oil/etc = rapid response to fill the gaps.

We'd do a lot better if we sited plants near conurbations and piped the heat to houses. There's a reason Edison's original comany had "heat and light" in the name which has long been overlooked because of the cost efficiencies of huge hydro plants in particular (take all those big coal/gas/nuke plants, sell the heat to nearby towns, get rid of the cooling towers and reduce the amount of electricity being piped to consumers simply to make hea - you can also run ammonia based cooling systems from the waste heat so that takes care of refrigeration and HVAC too)

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Boffin

RE: Wasted energy

IIRC, one of the problems with the idea of using waste heat for heating homes is that you need a system of pipes to transfer the heat carrying medium (water, steam or some other fluid). Most power stations are based well outside towns as land inside cities is very expensive, and because people just don't want power stations in their streets. And the cost of digging up existing city land to lay the network of pipes is also prohibitive, the additional cost of adding a system to pipe heat to homes or offices would be many more times expensive than just paying for heating. I see examples of the New York steam pipe system being used, but that is a poor example - it is not a heat re-use system, it is actually a system designed to provide steam for heating and power; it was installed in the late 1800s when digging up the city wasn't such an issue; it doesn't cover that big an area, mainly being in Manhattan; it has significant environmental impacts (guess how they make the steam.....); it also has a history of safety issues, with an explosion in 2007 (pipe failure) leaving a 35-foot wide crater in a Manhattan street; it has significant maintenance costs as the high-pressure pipes need to be monitored for leaks, and dug up and fixed/replaced periodically. The Manhattan steam system is in use today because it is already there, it simply would not be built today as a new venture.

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