Shale gas is a revolutionary source of power that the UK and Scotland must move fast to exploit, a panel of top energy bosses has urged.

The leading industrialists, including Sir Ian Wood, former chairman of Wood Group, and Ian Marchant chief executive of Scottish and Southern Energy, were taking part in a special Strathclyde University seminar at Glasgow Science Centre on Monday to mark the award of honorary degrees to six top industry figures. The degree recipients included Keith Cochrane of Weir Group, Jose Ignacio Sanchez Galan of Iberdrola, Steve Holliday of National Grid, and the Department of Energy and Climate Change's chief scientific adviser, Professor David Mackay.

Shale gas, extracted by the controversial fracking process, was endorsed by the panel as a source of adaptable low-carbon energy to complement renewable power. Mr Cochrane said Aberdeen, with its established industry, could be "the hub for Europe-wide development of shale oil and shale gas".

Loading article content

Sir Ian, described by Strathclyde principal and vice-chancellor Professor Sir Jim McDonald as "the patriarch" of the Scots energy industry, said: "I'm not saying shale gas is a [complete] solution but it is more efficient, more cost-effective and the reserves are absolutely gigantic across the world.

"In five to 10 years time we will have an entirely different mindset about gas and we will realise that there has been a revolution and that there is a major new energy source available."

Mr Marchant added: "There is a lot more gas in the world at cheaper prices than we thought five or six years ago. Gas-fired generation can be built in two to two-and-a-half years. It can be very flexible, providing the balancing services that [the grid] needs. A combination of gas and renewables can keep us on our carbon trajectory in the UK and in Scotland for probably the next 15-20 years."