Britain’s Gas Chance

The UK has been reluctant to join the fracking revolution. Yet tapping the Bowland Shale – which the British Geological Survey now says holds the world's largest natural-gas reserves – could reignite the UK economy and deliver huge cuts in carbon-dioxide emissions.

PRAGUE – In late June, the British Geological Survey announced the world’s largest shale-gas field. The Bowland Shale, which lies beneath Lancashire and Yorkshire, contains 50% more gas than the combined reserves of two of the largest fields in the United States, the Barnett Shale and the Marcellus Shale.

The United Kingdom has been reluctant to join the hydraulic-fracturing (or fracking) revolution. Yet tapping the Bowland Shale could reignite the UK economy and deliver huge cuts in CO2 emissions.

At the same time, the UK Parliament has approved stringent new measures to reduce carbon emissions by 2020, with the biggest CO2 cuts by far to come from an increase of more than 800% in offshore wind power over the next seven years. But offshore wind power is so expensive that it will receive at least three times the traded cost of regular electricity in subsidiesmore than even solar power, which was never at an advantage in the UK. For minimal CO2 reduction, the UK economy will pay dearly.

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