There are trillions of cubic feet of natural gas locked in shale rock deep beneath our feet, enough to supply U.S. homes and businesses for the next century. But drillers need to bring it safely to the surface. That’s why GE and ExxonMobil announced yesterday they would each give $1 million to university training programs that support the booming field.
The Colorado School of Mines, Penn State University, and The University of Texas at Austin designed training that will give regulators and policy makers access “to the latest shale resource technology and best practices” and help them with oversight. “Regulators have said that the need for increased training is one of the highest priorities,” said Gary Pope, director of the Center for Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering at The University of Texas.
Frac Truck: GE’s 50-gallons-per-minute mobile water evaporator recycles water used for hydraulic fracturing and reduces the amount of wastewater and fresh water that needs to be hauled to and from the project site.
Natural gas will play a key role in America’s energy future. It is abundant and emits 60 percent less CO2 than coal when used for power generation. “We believe advanced technology, an expert workforce and smart regulation are the keys to America leading the world in shale gas development,” GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt said. “As a technology leader in the energy sector, GE recognizes the importance of minimizing a site’s environmental footprint while simultaneously increasing operational efficiency.”
GE produces nearly 40 technologies for the shale resource sector, including water filtration, flare gas capture, and compressed natural gas systems to power truck fleets. Last week, MIT’s Technology Review included GE on its TR50 list of the 50 most innovative companies in 2012. The magazine recognized the company’s flexible, jet engine-powered gas turbines as a “key innovation” for “building flexible and efficient natural-gas power plants.” The technology lets utilities better absorb electricity generated by renewable but intermittent sources like wind and solar farms, among other benefits.