Life Cycle Assessment Comparison Between Shale Gas and Coal for Electricity Generation
Abstract: Natural gas represents a growing fraction of electricity production, largely due to economically viable high volume hydraulic fracturing of shale. The percentage of natural gas produced from shale has increased from 23% in 2010 to 47% in 2014. Public perception of the environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing is negative, particularly with respect to water quality concerns. This research compiles life cycle inventories of toxic emissions associated with shale gas and coal for electricity generation. The research compares the worst case scenario for shale gas with the business-as-usual scenario for coal. Preliminary data indicate that toxic emissions associated with shale gas are significantly less than those associated with coal. Additionally, sensitivity analysis strengthens the robustness of the identified trends, indicating that the findings will hold despite large ranges of uncertainty and variability.
Bio: Lu Chen is a second-year dual degree M.S. Sustainable Systems & M.S.E. Environmental Engineering student.