A report out today claims that the UK could build 2,300 offshore wind turbines with the money it would need to exploit the country’s shale gas reserves.

The study by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Research puts a price tag of GBP 32bn on exploration and production of shale gas in Britain.

If this sum was instead invested in offshore wind, says the report, the government would be assured of hitting its renewable targets, while its climate change targets would be missed if it pressed ahead with shale gas drilling.

The Tyndall Centre, based at Manchester University, claims that exploiting the shale gas reserves believed to be located in the North West of the country would generate so much carbon dioxide that UK greenhouse gas targets – which are to cut CO2 by 80 per cent by 2050 – would be unreachable.

Kevin Anderson, professor of energy and climate change at the Tyndall Centre, said: “The government faces a difficult choice – to lead a new and low-carbon energy revolution or stick with high-carbon fossil fuels, forgo its emission targets and relinquish its hard-won international reputation on climate change.”

Earlier this month a report by a group of independent European seismic experts concluded that it “highly probable” that drilling for shale gas in Lancashire in April and May caused earth tremors in the region.

The company behind the drilling, Cuadrilla Resources, said that the tremors were caused by a combination of geological factors that were “extremely rare and would be unlikely to occur together again at future well sites”.