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Britain will see a second 'dash for gas'

Turner & Townsend welcomes tax breaks for shale-gas producers.

Britain’s gas sector has received a welcome boost by plans to build several new gas-fired power stations, said Mike Pigott, UK power sector director at the programme management consultancy Turner & Townsend.

Pigott said that in making the announcement, chancellor George Osborne had “fired the starting gun on a second dash for gas”.

“Last week’s Energy Bill showed how far gas’s star has risen - and the construction of several new gas-fired power stations will ensure that it continues to burn brightly,” he said.

“Gas is significantly cleaner than coal. When burnt it produces much less carbon dioxide, and it can be rendered even greener with the addition of carbon capture and storage technology.

“Gas will serve two very useful functions - as a quick fix to the impending energy gap, and as a reliable backup to renewable sources that rely on the wind blowing or the sun shining.”

But he also warned that an increased reliance on gas will encourage the further exploitation of Britain’s shale-gas reserves.

“The chancellor’s offer of tax breaks to shale-gas producers will prove highly controversial, but this new and virtually untapped source of gas holds out the tempting prospect of national energy independence,” he said.

“Ultimately gas will provide a good stopgap, not a total solution. It will be a vital part of Britain’s future energy mix, but alone it will never be enough to ensure the lights stay on.

“Such a large investment in new gas-fired power stations will provide a welcome kick-start to the economy. But ultimately these bold plans can only be judged a success if the planned power stations secure not just the funding they need, but are also delivered efficiently.”

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