Anti-fracking pro-renewable energy activists are walking contradictions, according to a new study at the National Bureau of Economic Research. Three economists find that natural gas electricity generation complements and enables the deployment of renewable energy generation. To be against fracking is to be against renewable energy.

In their survey of 26 Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development countries, the economists find that natural gas and renewable power generation increase in nearly a one-to-one ratio. Why is that? Because intermittent solar and wind energy cannot be stably integrated into the power grid unless there is a back-up source of electricity when the sun does not shine and the wind fails to blow. The researchers note that 8 megawatts of back-up capacity are required for any 10 megawatts of wind capacity added to the grid. They cite other research that suggests that the ability to store solar electricity for 20 hours is necessary for photovoltaic power to work as a base-load resource. Since no such massive storage technology currently exists, only fast reacting fossil fuel power generation can fill in this gap.

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