University of Lüneburg Working Paper Series in Economics 147
Marine and permafrost-based methane hydrates are the largest existing fossil carbon resource, whereby the marine deposits far outweigh the terrestrial ones. Their broad geographic distribution, especially in comparison to oil and conventional gas, make them a promising future source of energy. However, there is a danger of forcing the greenhouse effect in the event of a release of methane into the atmosphere as well as causing the collapse of oceanic slope sediments. Also the technical difficulties in extracting methane from hydrates are not yet fully resolved. Nevertheless, research on methane hydrates has been forced both on political as well as economic considerations in recent years and methane hydrates have several practical advantages, which make them a transitional solution worth looking at on the way to a future renewable-based energy supply, not in the least in playing a role in carbon capture and sequestration. However, the knowledge of the potentials and risks of methane hydrates is still very poor, especially in the German-speaking public, administration and policies. This deficiency hopefully will be eased by this overview dealing with the current state of research and an outlook based on the most important findings.