President Obama’s been crossing the country and talking about the importance of Green Energy technology and how it is the future of America. He is touting it as a solution to America’s job problem, it’s energy problem in regards to a dependence of foreign oil, as well as hallmark to us improving as an environmentally friendly country. All of these would and are great things, but there are a lot of outstanding questions in regards to any potential moves and expansion made towards Green Technology, particularly in regards to Texas Electricity. The first question really needs to be: What constitutes Green Energy?
Traditionally, when someone says Green Energy, the first that comes to their mind is solar power, or wind powered energy. Which is fair, those are the greenest of the green technologies. But is that the only things being developed as part of the President’s proposed Aegis of green energy? To Texans, specifically, where does Natural Gas fall into the picture? We’re curious about this for a number of reasons. For starters, natural gas and the market prices of natural gas are what set the market rates for electricity in Texas. Which makes things interesting considering the debate that has been raging recently over the technological advancements in mining for natural gas in deposits of Shale.
Recent technology changes have allowed us to mine for natural gas in areas that were previously not financially viable or efficient. We can now use a chemical, water, and pressure based combination to “frack” rocks and siphon out the natural gas deposits between the rock cracks. Now where this all starts to get interesting is when you take into account whether or not this new ability to mine for natural gas deposits will be part of the Obama administration’s Green Energy initiatives.
What makes natural gas so compelling is that it would immediately achieve one of the goals President Obama has laid out about his green energy initiative: it would drastically reduce America’s dependency on foreign oil. Taking into account shale reserves, there is at least six times more natural gas available for mining than there was just a decade ago thanks to new technology. Additionally, natural gas burns substantially cleaner than oil or coal, which makes it a relatively green technology. Furthermore, current pipelines used to transport oil can be modified relatively easily to move natural gas. Natural gas can be used to power vehicles, and it is currently used to power most of the electricity generating plants in the Texas electricity market. And a final kicker? Long term, natural gas quite probably will end up being cheaper than wind or solar power.
The Fracking process is now without it’s potential drawbacks and controversy. Environmentalists say that not enough is yet known about the side effects of Fracking for natural gas, and there are also accusations that the process can contaminate groundwater sources and reservoirs, potentially contaminating drinking water. Some politicians are outraged that there is a lack of regulation over the process now.
Given that many environmentalists aren’t on board with new natural gas mining in shale deposits dampens the chances that it will be adopted under the umbrella of the President’s initiatives as a Green Energy. Which is interesting, because natural gas is fantastically more environmentally friendly than coal or oil. However, it were adopted, America could be looking at a relatively cheap energy transition, and the natural deposits located in the US, particularly in Texas, would give us energy independence and actually likely turn us into an exporter of natural gas to other countries. Texas electricity would likely benefit from even lower electricity prices, increased jobs, and economic security that our state will remain the energy capital of this country well into the future. The only question is whether or not natural gas will be seen by the right people as “green.” Fingers crossed.