As we all know, natural gas production has had a tremendous economic impact on Texas and provided an environmentally friendly form of energy to the state. However, there’s one advantage of natural gas that has not been given the attention it deserves: the massive benefit to Texas’ water supply.
According to a new report from North Texans for Natural Gas, natural gas actually helps save water in Texas, a state that is certainly no stranger to the effects of drought. Residents here certainly understand the value of conserving water, so this report is welcome news to Texans, all of whom rely on affordable and available energy, especially electricity.
Water use from energy development (mining) equates to a little over one percent of all water used in the state. Fracking, specifically, uses only about 0.5 percent of all of the water consumed in Texas annually.
In addition to conserving current water resources, the report shows that increasing natural gas use will reduce the amount of water consumed for electricity generation in the future. While critics of fracking claim the process is water intensive, the return on investment is actually quite high:
“For every gallon of water used to produce natural gas through hydraulic fracturing, Texas saved 33 gallons of water by generating electricity with that natural gas instead of coal.”
This means as natural gas makes up a larger share of the Texas electricity mix, water used for energy production will decline significantly in the coming decades. According to a University of Texas study, water used for fracking will hit its peak in the next few years, and then begin to decline steadily – by more than 16 billion gallons per year – until 2060.
Interestingly, natural gas can also be used as a back-up energy provider for renewable energy sources in times of high demand. Texas currently leads the nation in installed wind energy generation capacity, but unfortunately (just like solar power), wind isn’t always available. Natural gas can be used as a “backstop” when the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining, serving as a perfect complement to Texas’ increasing renewable energy supplies.
Today’s report highlights a few key benefits that are not always obvious when it comes to the production and use of natural gas from fracking. Natural gas provides a welcome relief to the state’s water supplies, and will continue to lower the amount of water used for energy production and generation in Texas.