IN DEPTH: The shale-gas challenge

A Chesapeake Energy fracking site in northeast Pennsylvania

A Chesapeake Energy fracking site in northeast Pennsylvania

The renewables business has always been prone to wild fits of optimism and pessimism, but nothing has caused the same gnawing apprehension over the past few years as shale gas.

In what feels like the blink of an eye, cheap, bountiful natural gas has been controversially unlocked across swathes of the US by “fracking”

In the eyes of some, this shale gas represents an environmental catastrophe and an existential threat to renewables.

For others, it is a near-perfect complement to renewables, offering the prospect of a gentler, less economically disruptive transition to a coal-free future.

And the extent to which shale gas and renewables ultimately compete, coexist or co-operate is of profound consequence not only to future US energy policy, but around the world.

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