Monday, May 23, 2016

Natural Gas versus Renewable Energy

Natural gas, particularly gas from fracking cannot hold a candle to renewable energy. Nonetheless, the positive spin associated with fracking for natural gas persists. Natural gas is anything but clean but it continues to be sold as such.

This American made technology has been shipped all around the world. So has US natural gas. As the first load of American gas was being shipped by Cheniere Energy, the company’s vice president of marketing, Meg Gentle, told industry and government officials that natural gas should be rebranded as renewable energy.

"I’d challenge everyone here to reframe the debate and make sure natural gas is part of the category of clean energy, not a fossil-fuel category, which is viewed as dirty and not part of the solution," she said.

Contrary to Gentle's assertions, the emissions associated with natural gas are much higher than initially thought. In fact, gas may be worse than coal. We also know that fracking causes earthquakes and a host of other problems.

As explained in an Environment America report, air pollution from fracking also contributes to smog which can cause both disease and death. Fracking releases air pollutants that have been linked to cancer and other serious health effects.

Together the evidence is clear, natural gas is not clean energy. fracked gas does not warrant being called a bridge fuel. It is as bad or worse than some of the dirtiest forms of fossil fuels. 

Natural gas will not slow climate change but it has undermined the growth of renewables. Starting in 2012 we began seeing evidence that the prodigious growth of fracking was slowing the market for renewables. Natural gas production started eating into renewable energy development more than four years ago. The result was that investments in wind and solar waned somewhat in 2012.

Despite these headwinds, renewable energy keeps growing in the US. As reported by Cleantechnica, a 2013 Credit Swiss report predicted US renewable energy would keep growing. The title to the first section of the report says it all, “Renewables Are Economic and Disruptive to Conventional Markets.” The falling costs of renewables has made them competitive with natural gas. Once so called externalities are incorporated into the equation, renewables definitively crush natural gas.

Despite the plethora of fracked gas that has flooded the market, renewables continue to grow in 2016. According to the "Energy Infrastructure Update," in the first three months of 2016, the US added 18 megawatts of new natural gas generating capacity compared to 1,291 megawatts (MW) of new renewables.

Related
The Myth that Fracked Gas is a Bridge Fuel
Fracking Contaminates Drinking Water
Fracking and Earthquakes go Together like Sodom and Gomorrah
Obama Begins to Reign-in Methane Emissions from Fracking
Jurisdictions Across the US are Saying "No" to Fracking 
Leaking Methane Associated with Fracking
The Porter Ranch Methane Leak Could be a Catalyst for Change
Natural Gas Will Not Slow Climate Change and it Will Impede the Growth of Renewables
Natural Gas (Methane) is Not Clean Energy
Video - Methane is a Potent Greenhouse Gas
Whats the Fracking Problem
Natural Gas Explosions Highlight Safety Concerns

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