Professor David MacKay, Regius Professor of Engineering at the University of Cambridge, recently conducted a study to answer the question: How would the footprint of a shale gas operation compare with the footprint of wind and solar operations to deliver the same quantity of energy over a 25 year period? Prof. MacKay’s results are displayed above and here are a couple of his key findings:
1. For the “land area of the whole facility,” a wind farm requires 725 times more land than a fracking site to produce the same energy (9.5 TWh) — 1,450 hectares for a wind farm with 87 328-foot tall turbines (about 3,500 acres or 5.6 square miles) vs. 2 hectares (about 5 acres).
2. A solar park requires 462 times more land area than a fracking site: 924 hectares (about 2,290 acres or about 3.5 square miles).
What can we conclude from these results?
According to Prof. MacKay, “Well, perhaps unsurprisingly, there is no silver bullet – no energy source with all-round small environmental impact. If society wants to use energy, it must get its energy from somewhere, and all sources have their costs and risks. I advocate deliberative conversations in which the public discuss the whole energy system and look at all the options.”
See related news report here from The Telegraph.