Energy minister Claire Perry has insisted the UK will be reliant on gas for the foreseeable future, and defended the often-villainised process of fracking to produce that gas.
“There is an anti-gas view out there,” she told delegates, “and a view that we can go straight to an entirely renewable system.”
“Even if you bring on the maximum level of renewables, including battery storage, you will always need some form of thermal generation,” she added.
“You cannot run an energy system entirely off renewable energy today. So, we have some level of gas dependency in our mix, all be it dropping quite sharply.”
“What you get from me is fact-based policymaking, not ideological decision-making,” she said, adding: “The argument there is if we can produce gas safely and sustainably and whenever we have a need for it, oh and by the way it creates jobs.
“If you were faced with those facts as energy minister, I think you would probably decide, as I did, that we should safely and soberly explore this and see if there is a resource there that is worth developing further.”
She said the government would “continue to look at the process”. “We’ve obviously been very clear about our environmental limits, which I think are the best in the world, and if [fracking] companies can operate within them then they’ll be welcome to do so.”
It was widely reported in the national media recently that Perry had refused to relax fracking rules at the request of shale firm Cuadrilla.
Fracking, or “hydraulic fracturing”, is the process of injecting liquid at high pressure into subterranean rocks and boreholes to force open existing fissures and extract oil or gas.
Environmentalists are often opposed to the controversial process as it is believed it can create earthquakes and pollute groundwater.