Fracking vs. Renewables

Hydraulic fracturing (or fracking) is a method of extracting gas or liquid from a type of rock called shale deposits. Holes are drilled into the ground and flushed with water, sand and chemicals loosening the rock and releasing gas.

What damage can fracking cause?

Although interest in using the practice has been increasing, concerns and opposition to further projects are also rising. Due to a number of ecological and safety concerns, communities are against having them in their local areas. The very water intensive industrial process can also cause damage to surrounding areas, used for agriculture or leisure. Water pollution has been reported in a number of sites – but this could be down to unsafe operating practices and a lack of regulation. This lack of regulation is cause for concern in itself, perhaps skewing the figures collected slightly.

What benefits does it bring?

Nationwide reliance on natural gas for everyday life creates a challenge when looking for alternative energy sources. The the moment, there is no renewable way to produce natural gas – and the fracking process is looking to be the next step for investors. But evidence has shown that fracking rivals the levels of emissions from coal fired methods of creating natural gas.

Do renewables offer an efficient alternative to fracking?

In comparison, renewable technologies available (primarily generating electricity) can provide a more succinct source of energy. But everything has its limitations. For example, solar panel performance varies nationwide and can be affected by shading, orientation and postcode – so in some instances could be non-viable. Due to the existing energy infrastructure being designed for fossil fuels generation, this makes solar and other renewables a little more expensive.

In general, renewable technologies are seen as a long term solution (to a long term problem). Fracking can certainly help us with demand in the short term, but eventually the resources they’re drilling will run out. What happens when oil and shale gas wells run out? Solar relies only on sunshine, and biomass fuel – for example – can be responsibly sourced and maintained.

The debate will rage on and environmental concerns will certainly see practices coming under scrutiny.