Jim Armitage: Politicians put all eggs in one basket on energy
It's really little wonder fracking is such a big deal for our political leaders. Because they some years ago bet our energy future on the hissing stuff when deciding on the next generation of electricity power stations.
The decision has been made to focus on building generators using gas and, pretty much, gas alone.
Despite Nye Bevan's phrase on the economy that Britain is a lump of coal surrounded by fish, coal-fired stations are already closing – too dirty for us. The planning process for new nuclear has a half-life like plutonium (no politician wants cartoonists depicting them as Mr Burns from The Simpsons – hence the refusal to green-light new reactors). So, bar the pinprick that is renewables, gas is the only option.
Whether we were right to place our entire energy future in one source is a matter of debate (simple answer from me: we weren't).
But now we have made this choice, we must diversify where the next generation of gas comes from. Basically, that means a number of things. First, hug the next Norwegian you meet. Let them hunt a few more whales if they really want to. Norway will become ever more crucial to us as our main source of gas. Holland and Belgium, where the main interconnector pipes leave the Continent for Britain, will be pumping like billy-o in future decades.
Secondly, liquefied natural gas, natural gas compressed into liquid form for transport to our shores by ship, will become ever more important. We now have three major LNG terminals, giving us a decent capacity to take more, particularly from Qatar, our biggest supplier by far. Our major contract with the emirate is up for renewal in a couple of years and, given global demand for LNG, we should be braced for a hefty price rise. Watch how keen our leaders are to get friendly with the new emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.
Also, see how we foster relations with other LNG nations in North Africa and the Caribbean. Last month we struck a deal with the recently gas-rich US to import LNG from Texas, too.
But, beside fracking, there's another potentially rich seam we must explore: coal gas. Far offshore, away from grumpy residents, lie thousands of hectares of coal which can be turned into gas.
The Coal Authority knows where it is and has done for decades. More than a dozen licences have been granted, and the oil industry veteran Algy Cluff, has won three of them. There's a rub, of course, and a big rub. Like fracking, we really have no idea whether they can safely extract the gas. But, as anyone who knows about minerals will tell you, if Algy's there, a bob or two's to be made.
- 1 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 2 This is what the photographer has to say about the picture of a weasel riding a woodpecker
- 3 Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
- 4 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 5 Average penis size revealed: Scientists attempt to find what is 'normal' to reassure concerned men
Bill Clinton portrait features Monica Lewinsky reference, artist admits
Japanese island overrun with cats after population explodes
Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
Pornhub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
iJobs Money & Business
£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...
£50000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: An outstanding new...
£20000 - £21000 per annum + uncapped commission: SThree: As a graduate you are...
£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...