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House of Lords urges government to ‘go all out for shale’

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A House of Lords report has supported the government’s commitment to “go all out for shale” and has urged fracking to be made a “national priority”, despite public opposition to the practice and concerns around its impacts.

The House of Lords economic affairs committee argues that the UK has “substantial” shale gas and oil reserves and further exploration is “urgently” needed, in order to assess the industry’s “economic prize, which the UK should grasp without further delay”.

The report contends that the UK will benefit from fracking because it could reduce our dependence on Russian oil, an issue that has recently been debated following the Ukraine crisis. It also adds that growth in the industry would create jobs and lead to the retention and development of energy intensive industries in the UK.

Lord MacGregor, chairman of the committee, said, “A successful shale gas industry in the UK would be good for our economy and energy security.

“The committee strongly supports the government’s decisions to go ‘all out for shale’. But here in the UK we have not yet left the starting gate. Developing a successful shale gas and oil industry in the UK must be an urgent national priority.”

Speaking on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, MacGregor defended accusations that six members of the committee had links to pro-fracking organisations. These allegations have led critics to question whether the committee could be considered impartial.

One member of the committee, Lord Lawson, is known to be a sceptic of manmade climate change and a supporter of fracking. MacGregor refuted these claims.

Also speaking on the programme, Green party MP Caroline Lucas, who was recently cleared of anti-fracking protest charges, pointed out that renewables could offer more jobs than fracking and there remained a lot of uncertainty around the short and long-term impact of a shale gas revolution.

“The point is we simply don’t need to be going down this road, there is a road that is there with energy efficiency, renewable energy, community energy, decentralised energy – these are the secure energies of the future. If we go down the road of fracking we will lock ourselves into a fossil fuel future, which will be very hard to get out of“, she said.

Greenpeace said the report gets the UK’s energy priorities wrong. It pointed out that the majority of the public oppose plans to allow fracking firms to drill under people’s homes without their permission.

A recent YouGov poll revealed that 74% of the public oppose the proposed changes to the trespass law. Separate research also suggests that public opposition to fracking is growing, amid safety and environmental concerns, whilst support for renewables is on the up.

Doug Parr, chief scientist at Greenpeace UK, noted that whilst the Lords say public concerns should be taken seriously, they also urge the government to “strip people of their rights to say no to fracking firms planning to drill under their homes”.

Parr added, “Fracking is a non-solution – it won’t deliver for many years, if ever. The real urgent national priority is to push ahead with the renewable technology and efficiency measures which would much more rapidly address the security issues flagged by the Ukraine crisis.”

The impact shale gas could have on cutting greenhouse gas emissions has also been disputed. A study published this month argued that whilst shale gas could be used as a transition fuel its usage would also lead to an increase in overall energy use and little or no greenhouse gas emissions reduction.

Photo: Lock the Gate Alliance via Flickr

Further reading:

‘Freedom to frack’ on private land opposed by three quarters of Britons

New research: fracking won’t ensure greenhouse gas emissions reduction

Public support for renewable grows as concerns over fracking rises

Councils accused of conflict of interest over fracking investments

Green economy lauds benefit of renewables in response to fracking industry report

Energy

7 New Technologies That Could Radically Change Our Energy Consumption

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Energy Consumption
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Syda Productions | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/dolgachov

Most of our focus on technological development to lessen our environmental impact has been focused on cleaner, more efficient methods of generating electricity. The cost of solar energy production, for example, is slated to fall more than 75 percent between 2010 and 2020.

This is a massive step forward, and it’s good that engineers and researchers are working for even more advancements in this area. But what about technologies that reduce the amount of energy we demand in the first place?

Though it doesn’t get as much attention in the press, we’re making tremendous progress in this area, too.

New Technologies to Watch

These are some of the top emerging technologies that have the power to reduce our energy demands:

  1. Self-driving cars. Self-driving cars are still in development, but they’re already being hailed as potential ways to eliminate a number of problems on the road, including the epidemic of distracted driving ironically driven by other new technologies. However, even autonomous vehicle proponents often miss the tremendous energy savings that self-driving cars could have on the world. With a fleet of autonomous vehicles at our beck and call, consumers will spend less time driving themselves and more time carpooling, dramatically reducing overall fuel consumption once it’s fully adopted.
  2. Magnetocaloric tech. The magnetocaloric effect isn’t exactly new—it was actually discovered in 1881—but it’s only recently being studied and applied to commercial appliances. Essentially, this technology relies on changing magnetic fields to produce a cooling effect, which could be used in refrigerators and air conditioners to significantly reduce the amount of electricity required.
  3. New types of insulation. Insulation is the best asset we have to keep our homes thermoregulated; they keep cold or warm air in (depending on the season) and keep warm or cold air out (again, depending on the season). New insulation technology has the power to improve this efficiency many times over, decreasing our need for heating and cooling entirely. For example, some new automated sealing technologies can seal gaps between 0.5 inches wide and the width of a human hair.
  4. Better lights. Fluorescent bulbs were a dramatic improvement over incandescent bulbs, and LEDs were a dramatic improvement over fluorescent bulbs—but the improvements may not end there. Scientists are currently researching even better types of light bulbs, and more efficient applications of LEDs while they’re at it.
  5. Better heat pumps. Heat pumps are built to transfer heat from one location to another, and can be used to efficiently manage temperatures—keeping homes warm while requiring less energy expenditure. For example, some heat pumps are built for residential heating and cooling, while others are being used to make more efficient appliances, like dryers.
  6. The internet of things. The internet of things and “smart” devices is another development that can significantly reduce our energy demands. For example, “smart” windows may be able to respond dynamically to changing light conditions to heat or cool the house more efficiently, and “smart” refrigerators may be able to respond dynamically to new conditions. There are several reasons for this improvement. First, smart devices automate things, so it’s easier to control your energy consumption. Second, they track your consumption patterns, so it’s easier to conceptualize your impact. Third, they’re often designed with efficiency in mind from the beginning, reducing energy demands, even without the high-tech interfaces.
  7. Machine learning. Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies have the power to improve almost every other item on this list. By studying consumer patterns and recommending new strategies, or automatically controlling certain features, machine learning algorithms have the power to fundamentally change how we use energy in our homes and businesses.

Making the Investment

All technologies need time, money, and consumer acceptance to be developed. Fortunately, a growing number of consumers are becoming enthusiastic about finding new ways to reduce their energy consumption and overall environmental impact. As long as we keep making the investment, our tools to create cleaner energy and demand less energy in the first place should have a massive positive effect on our environment—and even our daily lives.

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Energy

Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis

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Energy Investments
Shutterstock / By Sergey Nivens | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/nivens

Retiring baby-boomers are facing a retirement cliff, at the same time as mother nature unleashes her fury with devastating storms tied to the impact of global warming. There could be a unique solution to the challenges associated with climate change – investments in clean energy from retirement funds.

Financial savings play a very important role in everyone’s life and one must start planning for it as soon as possible. It’s shocking how quickly seniors can burn through their nest egg – leaving many wondering, “How long your retirement savings will last?

Let’s take a closer look at how seniors can take baby steps on the path to retiring with dignity, while helping to clean up our environment.

Tip #1: Focus & Determination

Like in other work, it is very important to focus and be determined. If retirement is around the corner, then make sure to start putting some money away for retirement. No one can ever achieve anything without dedication and focus – whether it’s saving the planet, or saving for retirement.

Tip #2: Minimize Spending

One of the most important things that you need to do is to minimize your expenditures. Reducing consumption is good for the planet too!

Tip #3: Visualize Your Goal

You can achieve more if you have a clearly defined goal in life. This about how your money can be used to better the planet – imagine cleaner air, water and a healthier environment to leave to your grandchildren.

Investing in Clean Energy

One of the hottest and most popular industries for investment today is the energy market – the trading of energy commodities. Clean energy commodities are traded alongside dirty energy supplies. You might be surprised to learn that clean energy is becoming much more competitive.

With green biz becoming more popular, it is quickly becoming a powerful tool for diversified retirement investing.

The Future of Green Biz

As far as the future is concerned, energy businesses are going to continue getting bigger and better. There are many leading energy companies in the market that already have very high stock prices, yet people are continuing to investing in them.

Green initiatives are impacting every industry. Go Green campaigns are a PR staple of every modern brand. For the energy-sector in the US, solar energy investments are considered to be the most accessible form of clean energy investment. Though investing in any energy business comes with some risks, the demand for energy isn’t going anywhere.

In conclusion, if you want to start saving for your retirement, then clean energy stocks and commodity trading are some of the best options for wallets and the planet. Investing in clean energy products, like solar power, is a more long-term investment. It’s quite stable and comes with a significant profit margin. And it’s amazing for the planet!

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