Fracking has been the source of much controversy in recent times in the UK. Some people are claiming that it could solve many of the UK’s energy problems, others are claiming that it will only serve to pollute the environment and put the public’s safety at risk.
How does fracking work?
Fracking works by pumping chemicals mixed with H2O down into the Earth’s surface through holes that are dug deep into the ground. It aims at releasing gas trapped underground so that it may be used to produce energy.
Fracking is often referred to as being a horizontal process, this means that once the drilling is finished, the water and chemicals spread out into the surrounding earth.
Will energy bills be lower if fracking occurs in the UK?
It is unlikely that fracking will make any significant change to energy prices in the UK. This is because we are part of the EU’s energy market and therefore a small reduction in the price of our wholesale energy prices is unlikely to make a difference to the consumer.
Is fracking safe?
Many people who are against fracking claim that the environmental hazard that it presents is far too high a risk for the small benefits it offers. There are many arguments that state that fracking causes contamination to water sources that can then be passed on to both humans and livestock.
There is also an argument that fracking requires far too much water to be considered a viable option. It relies on pumping huge amounts of water into the ground, this water becomes contaminated and can therefore not be used for domestic purposes.
Another argument against the safety of fracking is the fact that it supposedly leads to risks of earthquakes. Whilst this may sound farfetched, it is based upon the fact that fracking essentially weakens the ground beneath the surface by expanding cracks and faults that are already present. In fact when drilling tests were carried out in Blackpool there were a number of tremors recorded in the area.
In 2013 a report funded by the government stated that although fracking may cause tremors, it is unlikely that these would cause any structural damage.
What advantages could fracking offer?
According to the Prime Minister:
“It could bring 74,000 jobs, over £3bn of investment, give us cheaper energy for the future, and increase our energy security”.
It is also reported that fracking produces less CO2 emissions than other methods. The shale gas that it produces is slightly less harmful to the environment than coal or natural gas.
Do other countries allow fracking?
Some countries allow fracking and have benefitted greatly from it. These countries include Canada and China, however the US is by far the largest proponent of fracking. Gas prices fell by around 40% after the fracking technique was introduced.
There are many countries however, that have banned fracking. These countries include France and Bulgaria. The main reason fracking has been banned in these countries is the environmental hazard that it presents.
Will the UK allow fracking?
It does look extremely likely that fracking will happen in the UK although it has not been decided where. The DECC has stated that it will be most profitable in East and South of England. The earliest we are likely to see fracking commence is in 2016.