Stern the crows, what a performance
Sep 3, 2013
Bishop Hill in Energy: gas

Just when you think it's a bit of a slow news day, the global warming bigwigs come up with something really quite startlingly foolish to provide us all with a bit of entertainment.

Heading up tonight's comedy routine is the noble lord, Lord Stern of Brentfordwood, who expounds on the subject of shale gas in the Independent.

Lord S is worried that soggy old Britain isn't soggy enough for fracking:

He is particularly concerned about whether some areas of the UK have enough water for such a water-intensive process, whether the country has enough space for such a space-consuming industry and whether fracking could pollute the water supply.

This is a picture of the river Uck in Sussex, one of the dryer parts of the country and not far from Balcombe:

It has a mean flow of 1.119 m3/s = 1119 l/s. Your average modern fracking well uses about 20 million litres of water (although much of this volume will be recycled). 20 million litres represents 17873 seconds or five hours' flow. Do you know what? I don't think lack of water is actually an issue at all.  You know what else I think? I think Stern read this article in the Guardian and just applied the same scare story to the UK without thinking it through. Because if you analyse the UK situation for even a couple of minutes you realise that water shortage just isn't an issue.

As for his claim that shale is a "space-consuming" industry, readers at BH already know that it has an astonishingly small footprint - far, far smaller than that of any of the renewables technologies that Stern favours. I think we can say with some certainty that he is talking out of his coronet on this subject too.

What else has the great man got for us? Well the evidence for climate change is apparently "stronger than ever". However, since everyone agrees that the climate changes, this is not really a very exciting thing to say. I wonder what Lord S makes of the things that people are actually disagreeing about, like estimates of climate sensitivity?

The article finishes of with a critique of some of the things David Cameron has said about shale (which I don't think comes from Stern himself - presumably this is the Indy's work). Embarrassingly the authors end up completely contradicting themselves. Having said that price reductions can't happen here because the US experience is not repeatable, the US being an isolated market, they then go on to say that any UK shale will also be transported overseas in liquefied form, a market they say is expanding like topsy. This, they imply means that UK shale will have even less impact on UK prices. Unfortunately they don't seem to realise that an expanded LNG market also means that we in the UK get access to all that cheap gas in North America. So whichever way you look, the market pressure is downwards.

This is an astonishing eructation of disinformation from an astonishing peer of the realm and an astonishing newspaper. Truly disreputable stuff.

[Updated, because I'd said  3-5m litres, but it should have been 3-5m gallons. I've gone with 20 m litres.]

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