Ed Davey: Britain can't bank on shale gas to solve energy challenges
Ed Davey has backed the exploration of shale gas but expressed caution, claiming it will not "come close to solving even our basic energy resource security challenge".
In a speech to the Royal Society today, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change said the country needs to be "cautious about hyperbole on shale".
Sitting firmly on the fence, Davey provided a series of pros and cons on the exploration of shale gas, adding that he "stands shoulder to shoulder with those who want to tackle climate change" while also backing those who "want to keep our homes warm and our businesses powered at a price people can afford".
Addressing those opposed, Davey said that UK shale gas can be developed sensibly and safely, while protecting the local environment, with the right regulation.
He also claimed that the UK could still meet wider climate change targets, as long as the right policies are in place.
"Gas, as the cleanest fossil fuel, is part of the answer to climate change, as a bridge in our transition to a green future, especially in our move away from coal," said Davey.
"Gas will buy us the time we need over the coming decades to get enough low carbon technology up and running so we can power the country and keep cutting emissions," he added.
However, addressing concerns, Davey said that "shale gas is no quick fix and no silver bullet" and stressed that onshore shale gas exploration in the UK was in the very early stages.
"It would likely be the 2020s before we might feel any benefits in full. So we can't bank on shale gas to solve all our energy challenges, today or this decade," said Davey.
"In the next decade, shale, by itself, will not come close to solving even our basic energy resource security challenge," he said.
Confirming the Government's position, Davey said shale gas will play a part in a more diverse energy mix, alongside conventional gas, wind, wave, biomass, nuclear, carbon capture and storage - and "all the other low carbon technologies that must contribute".
Last month, Prime Minister David Cameron urged the UK to back fracking or risk missing out on the opportunities associated with shale gas.