A recent study reveals that fracking is in some ways less damaging to the earth’s environment compared to some renewable sources of energy. But is it really greener than solar and wind power?
Some believe that just basing one’s conclusion on the data contained in the study (whether fracking is greener than sources of green renewable energy) would be quite improper for several reasons.
First of all, it depends on how one defines the term ‘green’. Without considering the proper context, the conclusion might just be another chalk and cheese.
In arriving at an informed and wise decision about which energy source is better, their overall individual environmental effects should be considered. For instance, one should ask how much land area could each fracking operation turn into toxic waste, and how likely is that to happen?
Likewise, a person should also ask: could the production of solar panels deplete our natural resources of silver and tellurium? As it stands, there are also some environmental issues that are more closely associated with the production of green renewable energy than those related with say, shale gas extraction.
If the governments of this world are bent on considering climate change as their most pressing problem, then the renewables become the best option. But those in the shale gas industry would argue that shale energy can’t be compared to solar without considering the potential for shale to replace coal as a source of base load power.
Two key findings about the environmental effects of fracking were actually overshadowed by the misinformation of the Times. The first one is that the shale is heavily dependent on effective oversight and ethical corporate conduct.
The point is: fracking indeed can be relatively safe, but a lot of things can go wrong, as proven in many instances.
The second finding is that the renewable energy industry may have some issues to resolve regarding its own environmental impact. These issues are related to the production of wind turbines and solar PV panels, and their adverse effects on the environment. If one considers these factors, there is no energy source that can be truly regarded as ‘green energy.’
“It is not a question of whether solar, wind, shale or even nuclear are the greener sources of energy – they are all more environmentally friendly than coal and we need to invest in a mix of all these energy sources to reduce our dependency on the dirtiest fuel of all, coal,” stated a spokesman for the UK Onshore Oil and Gas, an organization for the shale industry.
In other words, he is saying that the debate between shale gas and renewables as an either-or comparison does not make sense.
“This study has clearly been misrepresented,” continued the spokesperson. “The only way to compare two technologies is by analysing the full lifecycle cost, which is not the case here,” he added.
“Gas creates CO2 and extraction releases methane over the course of its life. While all studies on wind and solar farms show their CO2 emissions are covered in between 1-3 years,” he explained.