The effect of natural gas supply on US renewable energy and CO2 emissions (9 page pdf, Christine Shearer, John Bistline, Mason Inman and Steven J Davis, Environmental Research Letters, Sep. 24, 2014)
Today we review research that examines the impact of increased natural gas supplies for electrical generation in the USA as one factor among the existence of a strict or absent climate policy, the emergence of renewable energy sources and the net impact of CO2 emissions between now and 2055. Given the advantage in terms of lower carbon emissions from natural gas compared to coal (which is used for almost 50% of the energy used to generate electricity in the USA), hydraulic fracking is seen as a bridge toward a lower carbon future. However, the likelihood of increased leakage of greenhouse gases from fracking offsets this advantage, even if natural gas emissions are less dangerous in health terms than coal emissions (fine particulate matter). The paper points out that the key factor is a strict climate policy as, without it, a switch to ample natural gas may increase the cumulative emissions over the next 40 years. Also, an increase in natural gas from fracking would tend to reduce the growth of renewable energy sources with zero carbon emissions, such as solar and wind.
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