Cuadrilla Resources has reported their huge gas find near Blackpool. And it is huge, just enormous:
And it's a whopper: 200 trillion cubic feet. Recoverable reserves will be less, perhaps considerably so: but to put it in perspective, the Groningen field, at 100 TCF, completely transformed the Dutch economy** in the '60's and 70's and will last to 2080. The largest North Sea gas field discovery to date - the Troll field in Norwegian waters - was about 50 TCF recoverable, and has been supplying France, Belgium and Germany since the mid '90s, with many more productive years to come.
The reason this is important? It completely changes the economics of renewables and climate change. Yes, gas is a fossil fuel, yes, there are emissions, but they're a lot lower than coal. We've already got most of the country piped for gas delivery and this new cheap and above all local source can just be pumped into that system.
It simply makes windmills an irrelevance: quite apart from the massive difficulty we'd have with the variability of wind power if we did build out the proposed system. Which is why, of course, Greens like Caroline Lucas are squawking:
Instead of caving in to fierce industry lobbying, the government should follow the example of France and others by agreeing a moratorium on new shale gas exploration, at least until the environmental and health effects are fully understood.
Why should we stop looking around for shale gas just because we're uncertain about the effect of exploiting it? Sounds very odd: until you consider that Blackpool isn't the only place in the UK with shale gas underneath it. Find a few more fields, see that we've got a century of more of energy under our feet and, well, standing between 60 million Brits and cheap and clean heat and power is unlikely to do a political career much good. Thus the call to ban the exploration, so that we never do manage to find out how much we've got.
And that's the political battle we've got to gird ourselves up to win: we really mustn't let the greens (and Greens) impose an exploration ban. This is going to be difficult though: Chris Huhne has been heard spouting off about people lighting their tap water in the film Gasland. Except of course that has been happening for decades longer than frakking has been done, it's an entirely natural (even if worrying) occurence.
We simply mustn't let them ban exploration or cheap energy in favour of their damn windmills.