The human race has one of the most important questions to answer in the coming years if we are to continue developing; how do we keep up with our demands for 24 hour a day electricity and fuel use, considering that there are limited resources?
Current estimates conclude that we are going to exhaust our most popular energy resources; oil, coal and gas, in as early as 2088. One of the new ideas for generating energy for the future is called hydraulic fracturing or fracking. Fracking involves drilling down into rock where shale gas resides and then sending a mixture of water, sand and chemicals at high pressure to release the shale gas and collecting it for our consumption.
America is the world leader for fracking on a large scale, which has led the UK government to take action in an attempt to increase its production by allowing more companies to apply for a license. The license allows a company to frack in a particularly well-supplied shale gas area, but the process is fraught with difficulties, as public opinion plays a huge role in the any decision to allow for drilling to begin.
One of the companies fighting it out for licenses is Cuadrilla. Their proposal to start up a fracking site near a small town called Little Plumpton near Blackpool was thrown out by Lancashire council. Despite this set-back, a defiant David Cameron and various fracking companies are confident that this is merely a blip.
Many Britons have fears over the environmental consequences of fracking. As the process uses a vast amount of water, it has been questioned whether we can justify using huge amounts of water when there is an international water shortage? Moreover, if the chemicals used in the fracking process were to leak, it could lead to the contamination of groundwater supplies.
Moreover, fracking simply doesn’t have the longevity needed to cope with the world’s energy demands; more is needed in the UK than the estimated 50-60 years that lies under British soil. Shale gas is a natural gas, a finite resource, this means like coal and oil we can’t rely on it. So fracking is a temporary energy supply.
Protests have been frequent in recent years, with one of the most high-profile protesters being the Green Party MP Caroline Lucas. The Green Party are against fracking for safety reasons but also for the finitely of the resource. They, like many others, would prefer the government to invest in renewable energy such as wind and solar power. Whatever the future of fracking is, the world needs energy to keep moving.