Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Shale Gas Threat To Renewables

Dr Birol warned that efforts to tackle climate change through renewable energy were under threat from the world revolution in unconventional gas sources. He said the shale gas boom in the US has already led to a gas rush which had contributed to a 50% drop in investment in renewable energy.

Shale gas has become an energy phenomenon since firms in the US found economic ways of extracting gas previously trapped in shale rocks, which have metamorphosed from clay deposits under pressure and heat.

The process involves drilling horizontally into shale formations far underground, then using small explosions to fracture the shale - followed by a slurry of water, sand and chemicals to free the trapped gas.
The US was gearing up to import gas, but experts suggest that the shale reserves may provide the nation with gas supplies for 100 years.

Large deposits of shale gas are expected to be unearthed in China, Europe and South America too.

Experts say the technological breakthrough increases energy security worldwide and reduces the diplomatic power of gas-rich nations, such as Russia.

But there have been reports of problems with the technology in the US, such as cattle dying after drinking water from the fracturing process that found its way to the surface.

In Pennsylvania, some residents can now set fire to their drinking water after methane leaked into wells. They are blaming shale gas extraction.

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