A few days ago I posted about how Dr Jim Hansen and his colleague Pushker A. Kharecha have produced a ground breaking paper showing how nuclear power has literally saved millions of lives. (Post HERE) (Paper HERE)
I became aware from their research that while nuclear is clearly a life saver, the replacement of coal generation with Gas will also save many lives. Due to the adoption of fracking in the USA, literally thousands of lives have been saved. Also a huge amount of illness, both serious and minor has been prevented.
As part of their research Hansen and Kharecha refenced a peer reviewed paper published in the "The Lancet" (The Lancet is a Medical journal of unquestionable integrity)
The paper "Electricity generation and health" by Anil Markandya & Paul Wilkinson.( Copy Of Paper HERE) gives us figures for the number of deaths from different electrical generation fuels.
Here is the crucial table.
Notice that the table indicates that the death toll from using coal powered generation is around ten times that of gas. So for every TW/hr of power generation transferred from coal to gas will save the lives of about 22 people.
Now look at these Annual Energy generation figures from the EIA in the USA. (Link HERE)
Total USA energy generation has only increased by about 4% from 2003 to 2012.
But notice how gas use (due to Fracking) has doubled from 2003 to 2012. Due to this increase in gas usage, coal use has fallen by 30%.
Nothing else is responsible for this. Nuclear is stationary and will remain so until new plant is built. Renewables are shown as minor bit part players, virtually irrelevant to the total output.
So in 2012, Fracking caused a reduction in coal generation of around 600 TW/hr.
This equates (for 2012 alone) to a reduction in the death toll of around 13200 people.
If you look at the table you will also see that Fracking have caused truly massive falls in serious and minor illness associated with coal powered electrical generation.
Couple that to a 60% GHG emission reduction for those 600 TW/hr and you find the USA is the only country in the world to significantly reduce its GHG emissions. All due to Fracking.
Clearly, while nuclear generation is still the most healthy option, Gas (from Fracking or otherwise) comes a close second. Wind and Solar, even after close on to 20 years of huge subsidies in the USA are still incapable of making a significant impact on electrical generation.
Next (or maybe next) I will explore how many Germans are going to be killed by the replacement of the safe and reliable nuclear with dirty lignite burning coal stations.