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Fracking: an option for Germany? Opportunities, risks and uncertainties of fracking in unconventional reservoirs (2024)

Impuls by the Academy Project „Future Energy Systems“

Published by Gierds, Jörn/Stephanos, Cyril/Erlach, Berit/Fischedick, Manfred/Henning, Hans-Martin/Matthies, Ellen/Pittel, Karen/Renn, Jürgen/Sauer, Dirk Uwe/Spiecker genannt Döhmann, Indra

(2024, 21 pages)

Should fracking contribute to the energy supply in Germany? This question seemed to be answered with “no” after intensive debates and the decision of the Bundestag in 2016 to ban fracking. Against the backdrop of Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine, however, it took on a new meaning. Russia has almost completely stopped supplying natural gas to the European Union in the wake of the war. As a result, the availability of natural gas has fallen, and prices have risen sharply, at least temporarily. Against this background and in view of the climate policy goals, natural gas consumption must be reduced anyway, and natural gas must be replaced by renewable energy sources.

However, as long as natural gas is needed as a bridging technology, politicians are called upon to diversify the procurement options for natural gas. In addition to the increased import of liquefied natural gas (LNG), could or should the domestic extraction of natural gas from unconventional reservoirs through fracking (hydraulic induced fracturing) contribute to this diversification? This could supplement the extraction of natural gas in Germany from conventional reservoirs, which currently provides around five percent of the natural gas used in Germany.

This paper discusses various issues relevant to a decision on whether fracking in unconventional reservoirs should be considered in Germany. In doing so, it considers technical, ecological, economic, social and overall systemic aspects. The statements made here are largely based on findings from a workshop conducted by the Academies' Project “Energy Systems of the Future” (ESYS), on expert interviews and on an analysis of current literature.


Elmar König

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