British energy company Cuadrilla Reserves said there could be as much as 200 trillion cubic feet of gas in shale deposits under Lancashire. Natural gas is seen as one of the cleaner hydrocarbons but depleted conventional reserves have led to a 40 percent rise in the price of natural gas in Britain.
British Climate and Energy Secretary Chris Huhne writes in The Guardian that, despite the optimism surrounding shale and other forms for natural gas, a "golden age of cheap energy looks increasingly unlikely."
Wholesale prices, he writes, are volatile and natural gas deliveries come with a certain degree of geopolitical risk. Russian energy company Gazprom cut off gas supplies through Ukraine in 2009 because of contract disputes, leaving downstream European consumers in the cold for weeks.
In terms of unconventional gas, he writes, shale gas hasn't "lit a single room in the U.K., nor roasted a single Sunday lunch."
The government shouldn't pick winners in terms of energy, he added, noting wind farms and other forms of alternative energy will remain in the country's energy mix.
"We face ambitious, legally binding carbon emissions and renewable energy targets," he writes. "Yes, gas will help us meet them. But we should not bet the farm on shale."