The problems with fracking (part 3)
Originally published as a main feature story in Energy Digital's monthly magazine, this piece takes a head-on approach to the top arguments against fracking in order to separate fact from fiction. Click here to read the entire article.
In the first post of this 4-part web series, we explored Argument No. 1: Fracking will worsen climate change. In the second post, we explored Argument No. 2: Renewable energy is replacing fossil fuels and non-renewable energy.
As we continue to explore the five main arguments behind the "problems" with hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, it only seems fitting to combine Argument No. 3 and Argument No. 4, as both pertain to the same element: water.
RELATED TOPIC: CMWU: delivering world class water services
Argument #3: Fracking contaminates ground and surface water.
There has long been concerns that fracking may cause chemicals that are potentially carcinogenic to escape, contaminating the ground water near the fracking site.
This concern was brought to a frenzy when a Colorado man lit the water coming from his kitchen faucet on fire in the 2010 documentary, GasLand.
RELATED TOPIC: Fracking the way to energy independence
And while GasLand was nominated for an Academy Award, that particular scene was somewhat misrepresented, whether done unknowingly or intentionally. Truthfully, it was the flammable water that propelled many into the anti-fracking controversy.
What viewers didn’t see was that Colorado officials conducted a full investigation and concluded that the nearby fracking wells were not to blame: The flammable material was coming from the man’s own water well which had been drilled into a pocket of methane, naturally occurring in the rock.
That is not to say that incidents have not happened.
In May 2013, Chesapeake Energy was fined USD$1 million by Pennsylvania officials who claimed that their fracking operations caused the contamination of water supplies for 16 Bradford County families. The contamination, however, was not the result of fracking itself, but from improperly cemented boreholes that allowed gas to seep out.
Argument #4: Fracking uses a tremendous amount of water.
With the California drought looming like a dark cloud over the U.S.—not to mention the numerous droughts in other parts of the world— the massive amount of water that is used in fracking is causing great concern.
RELATED TOPIC: [INFOGRAPHIC] How to meet water and energy needs
According to the EPA, between 70 and 140 billion gallons of water were used for fracking in 2011. When isolated as a single statistic, this sounds rather daunting: That is a lot of water used that can’t be reused.
However, when you compare it to how many gallons of water are used to water American lawns each year, the water used for fracking looks like a drop in the bucket.
Click here to read the September issue of Energy Digital magazine, and look for the October 2015 edition, coming soon!
All but two UK regions failing on school energy efficiency
Most schools are still "treading water" on implementing energy efficient technology, according to new analysis of Government data from eLight.
Yorkshire & the Humber and the North East are the only regions where schools have collectively reduced how much they spend on energy per pupil, cutting expenditure by 4.4% and 0.9% respectively. Every other region of England increased its average energy expenditure per pupil, with schools in Inner London doing so by as much as 23.5%.
According to The Carbon Trust, energy bills in UK schools amount to £543 million per year, with 50% of a school’s total electricity cost being lighting. If every school in the UK implemented any type of energy efficient technology, over £100 million could be saved each year.
Harvey Sinclair, CEO of eEnergy, eLight’s parent company, said the figures demonstrate an uncomfortable truth for the education sector – namely that most schools are still treading water on the implementation of energy efficient technology. Energy efficiency could make a huge difference to meeting net zero ambitions, but most schools are still lagging behind.
“The solutions exist, but they are not being deployed fast enough," he said. "For example, we’ve made great progress in upgrading schools to energy-efficient LED lighting, but with 80% of schools yet to make the switch, there’s an enormous opportunity to make a collective reduction in carbon footprint and save a lot of money on energy bills. Our model means the entire project is financed, doesn’t require any upfront expenditure, and repayments are more than covered by the energy savings made."
He said while it has worked with over 300 schools, most are still far too slow to commit. "We are urging them to act with greater urgency because climate change won’t wait, and the need for action gets more pressing every year. The education sector has an important part to play in that and pupils around the country expect their schools to do so – there is still a huge job to be done."
North Yorkshire County Council is benefiting from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, which has so far awarded nearly £1bn for energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation projects around the country, and Craven schools has reportedly made a successful £2m bid (click here).
The Department for Education has issued 13 tips for reducing energy and water use in schools.