Frack attack! Bluedesign/Fotolia Simon Oakes Presentation title Frack attack! Shale gas and fracking KS5 Specifications and qualifications AQA: ‘types of energy’ and‘patterns of energy supply’ Edexcel: ‘increased energy insecurity’ OCR: ‘the global energy mix’ WJEC: ‘the sustainability of energy supplies’ IB diploma: ‘changing patterns of energy consumption’ Presentation title Frack attack! An overview • Natural gas extraction through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, involves the high-pressure penetration of fluid into shale-rock sites, known as plays. • Fracking produces shale gas, an unconventional fossil fuel. • Technological advances helped fracking become cost-effective in the mid-1990s. • The energy mix of the USA has been transformed by shale gas. • Some predictions show the USA as the world’s biggest hydrocarbon producer by 2020, overtaking Saudi Arabia and Russia. • The UK government wants to promote shale-gas production, because North Sea gas production is in terminal decline. • In France, fracking has been banned due to health concerns. Presentation title Frack attack! How is it done? • At drilling sites, the water, sand and chemical mix is injected vertically and horizontally to depths of 3 km. • The process triggers tiny explosions that disintegrate the hard shale to release methane gas trapped inside. The gas flows out to the head of the well. • Enormous amounts of waste water are generated by the process. Presentation title Frack attack! Three big fracking issues Safety • • be damaged by fracking. Nasty effects include methane leaks and filthy us with climate change mitigation. could provide energy security in the short and The low cost of shale medium term. • • gas encourages governments to Millions of gallons of used fracking fluid must be abandon renewable energy solutions. disposed of. • Security Shale gas is a fossil fuel and will not help The local environment can flow-back water. • Ethics Researchers found that some of the 260 fracking chemicals used in the USA are known carcinogens. • • • With peak oil fast approaching, shale gas The Fukushima explosion left people feeling scared of nuclear power. Is this the right Energy pathways to Middle Eastern oil fields course for sustainable development? could lose their strategic importance, reducing • geopolitical tensions. Presentation title Frack attack! The view from the UK • The British Geological Survey estimates the UK has 1,300–1,700 trillion cubic feet of shale gas. • Exploration is led by Cuadrilla and IGas. Both companies are interested in northwest England, where the Bowland Shale holds 400–500 tn cu ft. • Large reserves lie below southeast England’s Weald basin too. It’s a highly-populated area of high property prices. Local opposition to exploratory drilling can be expected. Protests have already erupted in Balcombe. Presentation title Frack attack! Who else has shale gas? Presentation title Frack attack! The final verdict? • Supporters of fracking argue that we face a greater threat from coal-burning power stations — a new one comes online every week in either China or India. • Increased use of shale gas, rather than coal, will at least reduce the carbon intensity of global GDP growth. • Shale gas could help ease the transition to a low-carbon economy, serving as a bridge fuel until renewable energy sources begin to deliver. • journalist Michael Brooks argues that there are two important decisions to make. First, do we trust the regulators to do a good job in minimising the environmental impact of fracking? Second, do we want to be part of the generation that decided not even to bother trying to meet reductions in carbon emissions? Presentation title Frack attack! Essay writing advice What is meant by ‘increased use of shale gas’? Will it be a major or minor part of the energy mix? Does the statement suggest substituting coal with shale gas, or using shale gas instead of renewables or nuclear? A good answer will question the scale of increased use suggested by the statement. Best in whose view? Citizens? Governments? Businesses? Environmentalists who are concerned with climate change? From what other different perspectives can we look at the question? A topband response will provide a clear account of the different stakeholders and their views. ‘Increased use of shale gas is the best way to meet global energy security concerns.’ Discuss. This is the key concept the essay is based around. So what does it mean? And what timescale do these ‘concerns’ relate to? The next decade, or the next century? This is something you should be thinking about early on in the planning stage. The ‘discuss’ command requires a balanced answer, putting forward views in support of and against the statement. At A2, you should aim for a conclusion that agrees or disagrees with the statement (rather than hedging your bets and ending with‘maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, as there are costs and benefits’).