Fracking in the UK is a hot topic within the energy industry and has recently begun by the shale gas company Caudrilla. It has only come to light recently that fracking will be allowed to happen in the UK, as there has been a seven-year stop on the operation.
What is fracking in the UK?
Fracking or what is also known as hydraulic fracturing which is used to extract oil and gas from a rock. The process of fracking involves drilling into the ground and then the use of fresh water or chemicals to force out rocks which therefore give way to the gas. The technique has been designed to recover any natural gases and oil from the rock at high pressure. By doing so, it allows a network of small cracks in the rocks which release gas or oil, which is then pumped or carried to the surface.
There are a couple of fracking regulations that companies must follow in the UK if they are looking to frack. The government here in the UK, are extremely conscious of making the public and the environment safe when it comes to fracking, which is why there are such robust policies. However, the effectiveness of these regulations are constantly being reviewed to ensure the environment is not being harmed.
Why do we need fracking?
Fracking brings plenty of benefits to us here in the UK; many people will think otherwise as there has been a real uproar of the disadvantages of fracking. However, the disadvantages are greatly outweighed by the advantages. We require gas in almost every aspect of our lives; we use it to heat, light our homes and even for a transportation. Over around 85% of the UK’s homes use gas for their heating, and a further 65% use it for cooking their food.
Unfortunately, there has been a significant reduction in of shore gas production which has meant that the UK went from being a net exporter of our gas to now being an importer of gas needed for British homes. If we do not consider fracking we could potentially be looking at importing around 72% of gas in 2030.
Is fracking in the UK going to be the new North Sea?
According to the British Geological Survey, there are more then 3.7 trillion cubic metres of gas in the shale. In total on an average year, the UK will use around 85 billion cubic metres a year, which could mean that by fracking we have supplied ourselves with decades of gas.
The advantages of fracking
There are many benefits to fracking such as the economy, carbon emission, and job opportunities.
As we previously mentioned the UK is now importing a considerable amount of its gas from other countries. Fracking in the UK means that gas can be used for all of our homes without having the import, and in some cases, we will most likely look at exporting our gas to other countries, which only adds to the UK economy. It also means that as a country we will be less dependant on oil producing countries such as Russia, Saudi Arabia and China.
Fracking is particularly important in the UK as it will mean energy supply becomes more affordable as there is no longer such high demand from other countries.
Reliance on gas
One of the other benefits of fracking is that as a nation we become more reliable on these natural gases in comparison to the likes of coal. The burning of such gases is also much better for health and wellbeing, as coal is commonly a contribution to many deaths.
Natural gases release fewer carbon emissions in comparison to coal. It may not seem like it, but fracking is actually much more environmentally-friendly. Another great aspect of fracking is that the gas that has been collected lasts a considerable amount of time powering a number of homes. Meaning there is less need for the uses of fossil fuels, it can also mean we have longer to look at transitioning to renewable energy perfectly, so it can become sustainable in the future for everyone here in the UK.
Natural gas is also put easily into the national gas grid, which is then transported directly into specific power stations, homes and businesses. The energy used to transport natural gas is much lower than those of electricity. This is because gas is converted into heat with hardly any energy loss. Shale gas also does not require a significant amount of infrastructure to put into the national gas grid, which means it is actually relatively cheap to use.
When it comes to fracking, there are a number of jobs that become available. Fracking involves a vast number of steps which will all need manning, the practice of fracking has seen a great deal of jobs now arise for local communities. A single fracking site will require not only skilled workers but office personnel, engineers and other general employees.
As we will no longer have to look for our gas elsewhere, we will no longer have to pay for the importing costs. As there will be a considerable amount of gas entering the energy industry, many households and businesses will notice a difference in your energy bills. As gas becomes a much more affordable means of keeping your home warm as well as lighting and cooking. Households will most definitely feel the change in the prices of their energy and home costs.
Why is there controversy around fracking?
While some people think it is a good idea to start fracking in the UK, others are still sceptical. As gas is a much cleaner source of energy, gas is still regarded as a fossil fuel.
There are also other concerns when it comes to fracking as it has been associated in the past with small earthquakes. Another concern is that there is a significant amount of pollution related to fracking, not only is there carbon emissions which are not only injected into the atmosphere but also water, there is a considerable amount of noise pollution. Noise pollution often is not something thought about; however, it can have a real effect on those who live close to fracking sites.
During the fracking process, a large volume of water needs to be transported to the site, which in turn has significant environmental costs. Some campaigners feel energy companies are wasting time looking into fracking when they could be working on more renewable forms of energy.
Fracking in the UK
While you may have read about the many disadvantages of fracking recently in the news, there are a lot of advantages which can do wonders to the UK economy. Not only are we putting back into the UK as we no longer need to import gas, but we are also ensuring job stability as well as job opportunity.
The cost in gas bills will also reduce overtime, making your home energy bills much more affordable. It also means many of those who struggle with keeping their warms home over the colder months can continue to use their gas at a much lower rate.
It is a good option while we are still working on making renewable energy widely used across the UK. As it produces much less CO2 emissions in comparison to coal or any other finite resource.