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Can shale gas transform Europe’s energy landscape?

Author: David Buchan - July 2013.

Shale gas is a divisive issue in Europe because it highlights the growing tension between the EU’s energy and climate policies.

  1. Shale gas could be valuable in providing much-needed gas to complement renewables in Europe’s low carbon strategy. However, while strict regulation can minimise the risks of pollution, extracting shale gas would be an intensive industrial operation in a continent that is mostly densely populated.
  2. Without financial support, shale gas is unlikely to be cheap enough to squeeze coal out in power generation, as it has done in the US.
  3. Shale gas production might make a difference to the energy security of individual EU member states, but it is unlikely to do so for the region as a whole. At best, it will slow the increase in Europe’s dependence on imported gas. It will not, therefore, be the game-changer in terms of energy security that it has been in the US.

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