It seems that fracking, that heinous technology used for getting hard-to-reach natural gas and oil out of the very deep underground, far from polluting our water, saves it, especially where natural gas-based electricity generating plants are concerned. According to a University of Texas study published in Environmental Research Letters,
Even though exploration for natural gas through hydraulic fracturing requires significant water consumption in Texas, the new consumption is easily offset by the overall water efficiencies of shifting electricity generation from coal to 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-fired power plants use about two-thirds less water than coal-fired plants to cool the generators. The switch to natural gas-based electricity generation, made commercially feasible by fracking, thus reduces water use by the plants significantly. Aside from reducing water consumption in and of itself, and reducing costs for producers and consumers of electricity, this yields another, longer-term outcome. Senior Research Scientist at UT’s Bureau of Economic Geology, said,
The bottom line is that hydraulic fracturing, by boosting natural gas production and moving the state from water-intensive coal technologies, makes our electric power system more drought resilient.
Bad fracking. Bad.