Energy Secretary Ed Davey has hit out at the “frackbabyfrackers” in the Conservative Party for treating shale gas extraction as a silver bullet for the UK’s energy needs.
But he also warned environmentalists that the evidence pointed to a need for gas as the UK cuts its carbon, which could be much better regulated if it was sourced domestically rather than from abroad.
Prime Minister David Cameron has said the Government is going “all out for shale” but in an interview with Carbon Brief, a website which reports on climate and energy, the Liberal Democrat Energy Secretary said the coalition had looked carefully at the evidence and put in tough regulation.
He said huge amounts had not been spent on shale gas, which is extracted through the controversial process of fracking, saying “there has been a few hundred million spent on shale, there’s been tens of billions of pounds spent on renewables”.
Mr Davey also said that if he had to pick a domestic energy source to back with his own money, it would be solar power - though his priority would be energy efficiency.
In the face of low prices for payments for renewables such as wind power and solar in a recent auction for energy contracts, he insisted that new nuclear power, with its higher subsidies, was still good value.
He warned: “The risk of climate change happening is so severe, the risk of it being disastrous for the UK and elsewhere is so severe, that it is absolutely reckless to take any low-carbon technology off the table at the moment.”
And he defended payments for coal fired power stations under the “capacity market” as necessary for keeping the lights on.
He said fracking had been hyped, with the debate split between those who “say it is the Devil’s work and we should not see any fracking at all”.