|A fracking installation in the USA|
To Frack or not to Frack
Christiana Figueres, the executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, recently said that 'The coal industry needs to change rapidly to help prevent global warming by leaving most of the fuel in the ground'. It was against this background that Pembrokeshire South East Energy Group welcomed John Childs from Safe Energy Wales to explain the recent developments being proposed in the Swansea area.
He started by explaining the method used to 'frack' (short for fracturing). This involves drilling down vertically then horizontally. Water, including numerous various chemicals – not named because of confidentiality - is then injected under high pressure to create fractures to release the methane held in the rock.
Coal Bed Methane (CBM) is the name given to this method for accessing fossil fuels. The shale gas seams are deeper than coal seams which are closer to the surface and stretch across South Wales – including Pembrokeshire.
The UK Government has designated large areas of Britain as suitable for exploitation and issued licences – many in South Wales. The site covers the whole of Swansea. Permission has been given for test drilling of 6 holes just north of the M4. At this stage fracking will not be used. However should methane be found the normal progression is that initially the gas comes out naturally but fracking follows as it ceases to be released unassisted. The question of how the waste contaminated water is dealt with one which needs to be addressed. Generally only half comes back to the surface and that which does is held in 'ponds'.
The pads on which the engineering work takes place do not require Environmental Impact Assessments as they only cover 7,000sq metres. However new pads and wells will be needed should permission be given.
Underground Coal Gasification UCG) already has been granted 22 licences across the UK – one in the Louchor Estuary. Many older readers will remember the time when coal gas was produced by carefully controlled burning of coal in local gas plants. The aim with UCG is to pump oxygen/air into coal seams, set fire to them in a controlled way to extract the gas. This process leads to massive CO2 emissions (as of late 2013 Carbon Capture and Storage had never been successfully implemented on a commercial scale). Toxic coal tars are left in the resulting cavity – often leaching into ground water.
In the course of discussion a number of points were raised. The UK Government controls energy policy and is in favour of seeing these types of projects developed. They have produced planning guidelines which place national interest before local interest – unlike planning for windfarms which states that the interests of the local community must be taken into account. Their belief that these developments would reduce the cost of gas has to be considered in the context that the UK is interconnected to the continent - gas can flow to and from - and it will be sold to the highest bidder. Comparisons were made by some members to the USA where gas prices had fallen dramatically due to the exploitation of shale gas. However it was pointed out that until recently due to distribution problems most US gas was sold to the domestic market. Little was sold on the more profitable international market. George W Bush also removed many environmental protections – most noticeably concerning water. Unlike the UK the US is a large country with vast areas being sparsely populated.
Members and friends of PSEEG felt that they had learnt a great deal about an area of energy policy that has come to the fore very recently and could have large implications locally.
|11th October 2013||Quiet Revolution at Pembroke Dock: A visit with Marten Lewis to the Quiet Revolution factory|
|27th September 2013||Keeping the lights and heating on: A talk by Graham Goodeve|
|28th June 2013||Pembroke 21C Community Association: A talk by Elizabeth Gossage, Pembroke 21C Development Officer|
|24th May 2013||Life beneath the waves; the beauties and the beasts: A talk by Blaise Bullimore, European Marine Site Officer|
|29th March 2013||The National Trust in Wales - Energy Neutral by 2015: A talk by Paul Southall, NT Environment Advisor|
|1st March 2013||Climate Change and a Sustainable Future: A talk by Peter Davies, Sustainable Futures Commissioner for Wales|
|25th January 2013||Waste Not Want Not: A talk by Hywel Gibbs, Pembrokeshire County Council Waste Awareness Officer|
|30th November 2012||Array of Hope: A talk by Paul Carter & Kim Daye from RWE Renewables on The Atlantic Array|
|26th October 2012||The Green Deal: A talk by William Silverstone of Silverstone Green Energy|
|28th September 2012||A Fair Wind?: A talk by Steve Hack of Seren Energy on PSEEG's renewable energy project|
|14th September 2012||Not a Waste of Time: a visit to Withyhedges Landfill and recycling centre|
|29th June 2012||The Need for a More Sustainable Future: A talk by Geraldine Leach of Transition Narberth|
|1st June 2012||Know your Flood Risk: A talk by Andy Irving, Flood Risk Management Team Leader|
|11th May 2012||The Power of the Sun: A visit to the Solar Farm at Rhosygilwen|
|23rd March 2012||Planting Green Thoughts: A talk by Jo Horsley, Environment Wales Development Officer|
|24th February 2012||The Atlantic Array offshore wind farm: A talk by Robert Thornhill, Development Manager|
|2nd December 2011||Pathfinder Progress: A talk by Peter Willis from the Welsh Government's Pathfinder Programme|
|4th November 2011||The DeltaStream project: A talk by Chris Williams, Development Director of Tidal Energy Ltd.|
|30th September 2011||How Green is my Valley?: A talk by Grenville Ham, Manager of The Green Valleys Project|
|23rd September 2011||PSEEG's visit to Carew Mill with Marten Lewis of the Darwin Centre|
|5th August 2011||The Manner of the Message: A talk by Neil Sefton on communication skills|
|24th June 2011||The Work of the Darwin Centre: A talk by Marten Lewis, manager of the Darwin Centre|
|27th May 2011||Electric Cars – The Road Ahead?: The talk by John Lilly of Dragon Electric Vehicles|
|13th May 2011||Are electric cars the way forward?: A talk by John Lilly of Dragon Electric Vehicles|
|22nd April 2011||Sustainability in Action: A visit to the Science & Technology Park (Technium) in Pembroke Dock|
|1st April 2011||A Revolution in Wind Energy?: A talk by Vaughan Griffiths from Quietrevolution, Pembroke Dock|
|25th February 2011||Preparing for Floods: A talk by Richard Wickes of the Environment Agency|
|14th January 2011||The Way Forward for Wind?: A talk by Steve Hack of Seren Energy|
|12th November 2010||How Green is your Castle?: The National Trust & Global Warming|
|15th October 2010||Challenge of the Rising Sea: The effects on the Pembrokeshire coastline|
|10th August 2010||The beautiful Welsh coastline: Response to possible rising sea levels|
|18th June 2010||Visit to Costain at Canaston Bridge: Not Costing the Earth|
|16th April 2010||Feed in Tariffs: Power to the People|
|12th March 2010||Heat Pumps & Photo Voltaic Panels: Prepare for the Goodlife|
|12th February 2010||Parliamentary Candiates at Green Question Time in Saundersfoot|
|15th January 2010||Weather & Climate: A Question of Energy|
|4th December 2009||Sustainable Community Ventures: Regeneration in Pembrokeshire|
|13th November 2009||Community Initiatives: Sustainable Wales leads by example|
|16th October 2009||Climate Change Challenge for Candidates & Micro-generation with wind turbines|
|2nd October 2009||A Visit to Castle Pill Wind Farm: Quiet blows the wind|
|11th September 2009||Renewable Sustainable Energy: An Energy Survey for South East Pembrokeshire|
|10th July 2009||A talk by Lorraine Dallmeier of Infinergy: Wind Power - Pembrokeshire's Potential|
|12th June 2009||St. Oswald's, Jeffreyston - Pembrokeshire's Beacon of Sustainability|
|24th April 2009||Solar Panels: Three Cheers for Sunny Pembrokeshire|
|13th March 2009||Ashton Hayes Community Energy Reduction & Hot Water From the Sun|
|13th February 2009||Could Pembrokeshire go carbon neutral?|
|14th November 2008||Environment Wales to provide 'Start-Up' Funding for PSEEG|
|17th October 2008||PSEEG to become a Registered Charity|