Review of Water and Greenhouse Gas Impacts of Unconventional Natural Gas Development in the United States

Jeffrey Logan, Jordan Macknick, Garvin Heath, William Boyd, Kenneth III, Francis O’Sullivan, Jae Edmonds, Leon Clark, Hillard Huntington, Morgan Bazilian, Patricia Statwick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus Citations

Abstract

This paper reviews recent developments in the production and use of unconventional natural gas in the United States with a focus on water and greenhouse gas emission implications. If unconventional natural gas in the U.S. is produced responsibly, transported and distributed with little leakage, and incorporated into integrated energy systems that are designed for future resiliency, it could play a significant role in realizing a more sustainable energy future; however, the increased use of natural gas as a substitute for more carbon intensive fuels will alone not substantially alter world carbon dioxide concentration projections. This paper reviews recent developments in the production and use of unconventional natural gas in the United States with a focus on environmental impacts. Specifically, we focus on water management and greenhouse gas emission implications. If unconventional natural gas in the United States is produced responsibly, transported and distributed with little leakage, and incorporated into integrated energy systems that are designed for future resiliency, it could play a significant role in realizing a more sustainable energy future. The cutting-edge of industry water management practices gives a picture of how this transition is unfolding, although much opportunity remains to minimize water use and related environmental impacts. The role of natural gas to mitigate climate forcing is less clear. While natural gas has low CO2 emissions upon direct use, methane leakage and long term climate effects lead to the conclusion that increased use of natural gas as a substitute for more carbon intensive fuels will not substantially alter world carbon dioxide concentration projections, and that other zero or low carbon energy sources will be needed to limit GHG concentrations. We conclude with some possible avenues for further work.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number4
Number of pages21
JournalMRS Energy & Sustainability
Volume2
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, The Materials Research Society.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-6A50-62386

Keywords

  • natural gas and environmental impacts
  • natural gas in energy scenarios
  • unconventional natural gas
  • unconventional natural gas and water

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