Npower Ceo Volker Beckers has added his voice to those pouring cold water on the idea that shale gas may become a major part of the UK energy mix. He said it would be “impossible” to use the same methods to extract shale in Europe because of environmental regulations.
Speaking at the company’s conference in London on Thursday Beckers said he believed energy prices would only rise over the medium and long term, with shale having little bearing on European prices.
While gas prices in the USA are around half those in Europe, and around half that again in China becasue of shale, Beckers said it would be “impossible” to use the same methods to extract shale in Europe because of environmental regulations. He said it was possible opportunites in southern and eastern Europe could be exploited, but at a higher cost than those in the US and China.
Beckers also reiterated that direct German political pressure was not behind the firm’s decision, along with Eon, to pull out of the Horizon nuclear joint venture. He said the high cost of the project combined with the long wait to see a return meant the firm “did not have the financial fire power” to see it through. The nuclear project would also have limited its ability to make other investments, said Beckers: “We simply could not afford to carry on with Horizon.”