A look at whether natural gas would be defined as clean energy

时间:2018-07-07 单词数:2730

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天然气是清洁能源吗?_ 双语新闻

Natural gas is cheap and plentiful. That makes it an appealing alternative to wind and solar power, which are relatively expensive and erratic. And plants powered by gas emit far less carbon dioxide than those powered by dirty coal. Nearly half of America’s electricity is generated by coal, and electricity generation accounts for 40% of America’s carbon-dioxide emissions. In 2009, the most recent year for which data are available, the country’s greenhouse-gas emissions were at their lowest level since 1995. That was partly due to the bad economy, and partly to the increased use of renewables and natural gas.


But some question whether natural gas is really as green as all that. For one thing, fracking uses a tremendous amount of water, a severely undervalued resource inland. And the process gives off methane, a potent heat-trapper. A study led by Robert Howarth of Cornell University found that greenhouse-gas emissions over the life cycle of natural-gas production could actually be considerably higher than those of coal per unit of energy provided. Greater care about methane venting would, of course, reduce that problem.


The chief fear is that the mystery slurry could get into the water supply. In some fracking towns, people have been able to set their tap water on fire. And there have been troubling safety incidents. In late April a big company, Chesapeake Energy, suspended its fracking in Pennsylvania after one of its natural-gas wells blew out and spilled toxic drilling fluid into a nearby creek. France has placed a moratorium on fracking and is close to a full ban.