Germany Cautious With Fracking

The use of fracking technology is discussed now in Germany, and the government just published a new expert study that recommends proceeding with caution.

There are risks for the ground water associated with pushing thousands of tons of toxic substances into the ground. Therefore, any such project will need to pass a strict environmental assessment test, and stay out of areas vital for drinking water supply.

As far as I am concerned, all the unconventional gas reserves should stay right where they are. Most of the fossil fuel needs to stay in the ground. If so, there is no point in taking any environmental risk to get at unconventional gas. The consequence of higher gas prices is a good thing, since it leads to less consumption.

Published by kflenz

Professor at Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo. Author of Lenz Blog (since 2003,

2 thoughts on “Germany Cautious With Fracking

  1. It’s very surprising that the same environmental assessment tests allow open pit lignite mining to go forward.

    All in one, recent gas plants have a much higher efficiency that even the very latest lignite plant of BoA will ever have. And there is anyway a huge amount of gas heating in Germany, and there’s no chance it will be replace by much too expensive electricity.

    Some studies like this one of Wigley do show that switching from coal to gas might not be a great gain at all :

    However it depends on how much sulfur the coal plant emits (not too much for the German ones), how efficient the gas plant is (Siemens does one of the best one that peaks at 61%), how much methane leaks there is (we could hope the German industry will be able to have a good record), and lignite releases even a bit more CO2 than the hard coal used for Wigley’s calculation. Since lignite is not currently on the way out (it will be gone only after more expensive hard coal), shale gas might end up a bit better.

    Of course, none of either would be a better solution by far.


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