The problem with fracking (part 1)
When the concept of fracking was first introduced in the early 1900s, it seemed like a good idea. From an economic standpoint, the United States has enjoyed a 47 percent drop in natural gas prices; other countries have experienced cost reductions as well.
Government officials were happy, business owners were happy and consumers were happy—and then voices were raised to contend it; to stop it. Claims were made that it caused flammable water, which contaminated the soil and drinking water, and a controversy was born.
With both sides adamantly demanding that they are right, it begs the question: What’s wrong with fracking?
No, really: What’s wrong with it?
Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a method used to recover oil and gas from shale rock. It involves drilling deep into the earth, then directing a high pressure mixture of 98.5 percent water, 1 percent sand and 0.5 percent chemical additives at the rock, thus fracturing it to release the gas and allowing it to flow to the well head.
The drilling is typically done horizontally but sometimes vertically to reach the rock layer. While it is often used to create new pathways for natural gas, it may also be used to extend channels that already exist inside the rock.
The earliest recorded well fracking was in 1947. Since that time, it has gained popularity and garnered a great deal of controversy.
As with all controversies, both sides think that they are right—so we are going to address the five top arguments head-on, separating fact from fiction.
Argument #1: Fracking will worsen climate change
Fracking produces methane and certain groups are concerned that it will escape through leaks in natural gas infrastructures.
Methane has been linked to climate change because when it is emitted into the atmosphere it traps a tremendous amount of heat—in excess of 20 times more over a 100-year period than carbon dioxide.
Environmental activists have latched onto this, using it in their arguments to ban fracking.
To get the full story, though, you have to look at the whole picture.
A 2013 study conducted by the University of Texas at Austin reported on a series of extensive measurements that were taken at various points of the fracking process, including right at the well pad.
These measurements were taken at 190 fracking sites located throughout the U.S., with access allowed by nine different energy companies that agreed had to participate.
Results from the study showed that the equipment installed at most of the wells had successfully reduced methane emissions by 99 percent. When juxtaposed with methane emissions estimates (released by the EPA in April 2013) in the 2011 calendar year, the emissions during this study were 97 percent lower.
Next in the series: [Video] The "problems" with fracking (part 2)
Hydrostor receives $4m funding for A-CAES facility in Canada
Hydrostor has received $4m funding to develop a 300-500MW Advanced Compressed Air Energy Storage (A-CAES) facility in Canada.
The funding will be used to complete essential engineering and planning, and enable Hydrostor to plan construction.
The project will be modeled on Hydrostor’s commercially operating Goderich storage facility, providing up to 12 hours of energy storage.
Hydrostor’s A-CAES system supports Canada’s green economic transition by designing, building, and operating emissions-free energy storage facilities, and employing people, suppliers, and technologies from the oil and gas sector.
The Honorable Seamus O’Regan, Jr. Minister of Natural Resources, said: “Investing in clean technology will lower emissions and increase our competitiveness. This is how we get to net zero by 2050.”
A-CAES has the potential to lower greenhouse gas emissions by enabling the transition to a cleaner and more flexible electricity grid. Specifically, the low-impact and cost-effective technology will reduce the use of fossil fuels and will provide reliable and bankable energy storage solutions for utilities and regulators, while integrating renewable energy for sustainable growth.
Curtis VanWalleghem, Hydrostor’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “We are grateful for the federal government’s support of our long duration energy storage solution that is critical to enabling the clean energy transition. This made-in-Canada solution, with the support of NRCan and Sustainable Development Technology Canada, is ready to be widely deployed within Canada and globally to lower electricity rates and decarbonize the electricity sector."
The Rosamond A-CAES 500MW Project is under advanced development and targeting a 2024 launch. It is designed to turn California’s growing solar and wind resources into on-demand peak capacity while allowing for closure of fossil fuel generating stations.
Hydrostor closed US$37 million (C$49 million) in growth financing in September 2019.