Energy policy? Do we fracking have one!

As a wired in junkie and waster of energy I have a cheek commenting on Energy policy (or the lack thereof).

I routinely leave lights on, computers running, everything on standby, boil full kettles all the time, heating on too often and drive when I probably should walk.

Energy usage and generation are very large issues to be tackled in the years ahead.

We are starting (as a people) to get to grips with the energy issue, or we should be, as the price of Gas, electricity and petrol continue to go up and up and up.

So shouldn’t there be a full and well thought out plan to deliver energy that will keep the lights on for the foreseeable future?  I would have thought so but then again I am often surprised by what isn’t planned.

The drive to green / sustainable energy is a good thing.  BUT does this mean a free for all in planning that will see turbines sprouting up all over the place?  To meet the green energy goal of the Scottish Government (100% generated from renewables) there will need to be loads of them.

Hunners of ’em.  And they will change the face of our landscapes and around our towns (Donald Trump doesn’t fancy it).

To me it seems all the eggs have been stuffed in one basket, wind power.

What about tidal energy? twice a day the tide goes in and out, reliable and Scotland has many suitable tidal races that could be used.  Biomass seems to be popular too.

Now as an environmental neophyte the energy extraction method called fracking, didn’t mean much to me.  This is probably the same for most people.  Not anymore, I had a vague notion of what it meant but until i researched further I had no idea of how much environmental vandalism it requires.

Fracking – Hydraulic Fracturing, is a method for extracting Shale Gas, Tight Gas and Coalbed Methane.  It involves drilling into the gas bearing rock, pumping millions of litres of water and fracking fluids into the well and fracturing the rock to release the gas.  Sometimes the process involves mini explosions to rubbelise the rock to release the gas or chemically ‘melting’ the rock to get the gas out.

I don’t know about you but the idea of turning rock to rubble deep beneath our feet (and water tables) and pumping in thousands of litres of chemical soup (including many carcinogens) seems a bit suspect to me.

The Fracking industry say its safe and tried & tested.  The protestors say its environmental vandalism to extract yet another dirty fuel.  The evidence of the protestors seems pretty compelling to me and the statements of the industry seem to be the usual corporate assurances.

Now hobby horses notwithstanding (and fracking is one of mine), we need to keep the electricity supply up for an increasingly energy hungry and increasing population.

So where is the cohesive plan? well hidden and not cohesive at all.  The current wrangle over ROC’s (renewable obligation Certificates) and the rate of subsidy for green energy generation show a lack of linked up thinking and a lack of coordination.  Add to this the Nuclear generation debate, the difficulty with Carbon Capture & storage and the stick a turbine or solar panel anywhere and everywhere and we can see that the policy area is somewhat confused.  Never mind a dysfunctional oligopoly of an energy market.

The big strategic aims are there (reduce carbon impact / CO2 emissions / renewables targets by 2020 / 2030) but the delivery and implementation is a enviroshambles.  Changing subsidies and the like create a reluctance to invest and a slowing of technical R & D.

We need to have a public debate about energy and where we need to go.  With no hysteria and doom mongering.  It will need a mixed approach for a long time yet but the composition needs to be considered.

One thing is for certain, we should stay the frack away from fracking.



Posted on July 23, 2012, in Political matters and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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