From the point of view of an expert at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), fracking to extract domestic gas in deep layers of rock is unjustly taboo. "In the current situation, modern fracking is absolutely justifiable and should play a role in a rational energy policy," says Frank Schilling, Professor of Technical Petrophysics at the KIT Institute for Applied Geosciences and Head of the State Research Center for Geothermal Energy. Risks to the environment could be kept low with careful planning, monitoring and compliance with technical standards.
For the green-led Baden-Württemberg Ministry of the Environment, fracking is still “not an issue”. It also points out that it would not help in the current energy crisis because fracking gas could not be realized quickly.
The geoscientist contradicts this: According to him, fracking gas could technically be produced within six to nine months with sufficient preliminary exploration. Fracking uses pressure and fluids to extract gas from deep layers of rock. According to critics, this can pose a risk to the environment.
The FDP in state and federal government has long been vehemently in favor of fracking. She has some researchers on her side. Deep gas deposits are also suspected in Baden-Württemberg. Fracking is still taboo for the green-black state government there.
According to estimates by the Federal Ministry of Economics, natural gas will continue to make a significant contribution to energy supply in the coming decades. Gas is also promoted in Germany. So far, however, demand has been met primarily through imports.
Because imported gas is expensive and conventional deposits are increasingly being depleted, unconventional technologies such as fracking, in which gas or oil is extracted from deep rock layers, are increasingly being considered. Small cracks are produced in a controlled manner by injecting a liquid in order to release gas in the rock.
Environmentalists reject fracking because they fear that water will be polluted, earthquakes will occur or the greenhouse gas methane will escape uncontrolled. Commercial unconventional fracking projects in shale, clay, marl and coal seam rock are prohibited in Germany because of the possible impact on the environment and subsoil.
Instead of buying expensively on the world market, one could make oneself more independent and draw one's own gas from the ground. In addition, for KIT researcher Schilling: "Of the carbon-based fuels, natural gas produced in Germany is the most climate-friendly alternative."
Various fracking methods are already permitted today, for example in borehole mining, in geothermal energy and in the extraction of natural gas from conventional fields. However, economic extraction from unconventional gas deposits is prohibited nationwide.
Outside environmentally sensitive areas, four wells under scientific supervision could be permitted in shale, clay, marl and coal seams in order to gain experience of the effects on the environment and subsoil.
Replacing much of the Russian gas with LNG gas from the USA is a bad alternative, according to geoscientist Schilling. Due to the lower environmental standards there and the necessary liquefaction for transport, LNG gas is more harmful to the environment and climate than gas produced in Germany.
The FDP in the state and in the federal government has been calling for shale gas production through fracking for some time. The former EU Energy Commissioner and ex-Prime Minister Günther Oettinger (CDU) is also in favor. When it comes to domestic rejection of fracking, Germany is “not credible, but hypocritical”.
According to KIT Professor Schilling, however, shale gas could technically be extracted within six to nine months if sufficient preliminary exploration was carried out. "The approval would take significantly longer, unless a path is chosen that is based on the approvals of the LNG terminals."
From a geotechnical point of view, fracking is unjustly taboo: "In the current situation, modern fracking is absolutely justifiable and should play a role in a rational energy policy." Risks to the environment could be kept low with careful planning, monitoring and compliance with technical standards.
The proponents of fracking gas also get encouragement from the Federal Government's expert commission. The chairman, geophysicist Charlotte Krawczyk, now considers the procedure to be safer; she speaks of great progress in recent years. Vice-Chairman Holger Weiß questioned the ban in the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung” in the summer: “You can actually only explain it with ideological reservations.”
The geology society DGGV also considers minimum depths of more than 1000 meters for fracking to be harmless. After the Russian war of aggression, it was important to diversify gas sources.
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