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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

The ENERGY-WATER Nexus in the UK: IMPACT OF SHALE GAS exploitation in The Midlands


The aim of this dissertation is to investigate the impacts of shale gas development on water resources in the Midlands region, concentrating on the interactions that exist between  both  resources,  and  with  other  competing  users.  The  Midlands  was selected because research focused on this region is lacking, despite its considerable shale gas prospects, and higher degree of water stress, compared to other shale prospective regions in the UK. The research project was  carried out using a structured quantitative analysis of water and energy pathways, within the Midlands, coupled with the application of system thinking to capture the complexities in the feedback loops that exist in the development of shale gas resources. This research produced a number of key findings: large scale development of shale resources in the Midlands could result in water demand of between 2.5 – 5.7 million cubic meters of water; although this accounts for <1% of total water used in the region,  water for shale gas development is likely to be sourced from the Sherwood aquifer, which is already under stress of over abstraction; and due to proximity between shale resources, this aquifer is also under risk of contamination, especially from the shallow Widmerpool Trough basin. Thus, from a macro level, although the Midlands is capable of supporting a large scale shale gas industry, there are key concerns that need  to  addressed to  ensure that  it  is  sustainable;  this  is  possible through  the development of shale gas policies in tandem water resource management policies.


Course Overview


The need to engage in better problem definition through careful dialogue with all stakeholder groups and a proper recognition of context.


An ability to work with specialists from other disciplines and professional groups acknowledging that technical innovation and business skills also must be understood, nurtured and combined as precursors to the successful implementation of sustainable solutions.


An understanding of mechanisms for managing change in organisations so future engineers are equipped to play a leadership role.


An awareness of a range of assessment frameworks, sustainability metrics and methodologies such as Life Cycle Analysis, Systems Dynamics, Multi-Criteria Decision making and Impact Assessment.