Even though exploration for natural gas requires significant water consumption in Texas, the new consumption is easily offset by the overall water efficiencies of electricity generation from natural gas. The researchers estimate that water saved by shifting a power plant from coal to natural gas is 25 to 50 times as great as the amount of water used in hydraulic fracturing to extract the natural gas. Natural gas also enhances drought resilience by providing so-called peaking plants to complement increasing wind generation, which doesn’t consume water.Those fine thoughts, along with an estimate that every gallon used for fracking saves 33 gallons from burning coal for energy, misses two huge points:
- About 1/3 of the state's power plants run on natural gas. Two-thirds use coal. The study estimated how much water would be consumed if all plants burned coal (which requires more water for cooling). That is a false assumption, in the face of environmental and financial costs for coal plants (no new coal plants are being built)
- The study assumes that those plants can only get gas from Texas sources, which is false
Bottom Line: If you're short on water, then burn natural gas instead of coal -- and import gas from places that have enough water to do fracking without destroying ecosystems and the non-energy economy.*
*Another article notes how fracking has saved Ohio energy users from higher bills. I'm sure that the money is welcomed, but I guarantee that cheaper prices mean more energy consumed -- and a faster march towards 4 degree climate change. That "remote possibility of disaster" will probably happen now -- and the consequences will outweigh lower bills by about 100x.