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Posts Tagged ‘solar power’

donald-trump1So I’ve been quiet for a wee while. Call it 10 months of quiet?

Part of it is that little has changed in the industries I work in:

Oil & Gas   

Every commodity has its ups and downs, but oil & gas has swirled around its latest downturn since June 2014. It’s the same old story: Ask a dozen talking heads why this happened and you’ll get a dozen different answers (bonus points if the speaker gives contradictory views of OPEC in the same hypothesis). Despite that, there are reasons to be hopeful, including rig counts increasing most weeks. While some of that is because exploration had stalled for long enough that eventually you can’t go anywhere but up, more rigs equals more new drilling, and new production—whether it should be or not—is the accepted indicator of oil & gas health in the U.S.

Despite these hopeful signs, as of early 2017, the industry is still largely on hold. Normally this happens in January each year because companies are still waiting for approved annual budgets to proceed with anything. In lean times, annual budgets can sometimes be held back until February or March. However, this year, everyone is waiting to see what President Trump will do. Whether individuals may have a favorable or negative view of Donald Trump, the oil & gas companies overall believe his policies will be favorable to the industry. How many regulations will be scaled back and how consistent he’ll be has yet to be seen, but in every meeting, every phone call, and every email, the same hold line comes up: “Let’s see what President Trump will do.”

Water

I’ll make this one short: People still don’t care about water.

There’s a belief that we will care about water someday soon, but it’s the same belief accompanied with the same inaction year after year. Even environmentalists don’t care that much about water. It still takes a backseat to solar power and wind power.

I met with a guy this week who talked about his company’s testing water standards 15-20 years ago. At the end of their filtration, they’d have some of the water off to the side, and place a catfish in there. If you killed that bottom feeder, then you knew you messed up. While standards have gotten more objective than seeing if you can keep from killing a bacteria loving vacuum-fish, they aren’t universal. Every industry needs regulation; the goal is to have good regulation—promoting safety for people and the environment while allowing businesses to pursue success—but it’s easy to get the pendulum swinging in the wrong direction.

Since I mentioned wind power and solar energy:

  • There are still (inaccurate) stories about too many birds getting diced by wind power turbines. What I don’t hear is that the wind power design you’re most likely to see are some of the least efficient. Making lighter blades, using lighter material—none of this changes the limitations of the design. Most of the better designs—that appear more static, but are better at generating energy off each vibration—don’t make it to market, but that’s any industry: the best design rarely gets the market share (or even a viable business).
  • Solar still has issues with sourcing the right metals. This metal needs to be A) affordable; and B) have consistent high conductivity. The issue is that it’s still hard to find both. If the metal is affordable, it’s often not in the U.S., but making sure you get what you paid for is harder when you’re thousands of miles away. Then, if the metal is of the right quality, it’s harder to get affordably and consistently. Thus any innovation of the solar power industry is still limited by basic sourcing issues.

Okay, so things are kind of stuck, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned is that anger does little to build anything meaningful. As Sam Rayburn said, “Any jackass can kick down a barn, but it takes a good carpenter to build one.” Whatever the future of water and oil & gas hold, I want to be a part of building it well.

Let’s get pushing.

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Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home), industrial water purification (biofilm removal), and reduced water pumping costs.

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for coal, biosolids, sugar beets, dairy waste, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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I always figured the wind was a jerk:

Strange to think this video is seven years old now. It’s also a pity they didn’t continue with the personification/anthropomorphism ads; I would’ve liked to see that jerk sun burning and blinding people before getting harnessed as solar power.

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Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home), industrial water purification (biofilm removal), and reduced water pumping costs.

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for coal, biosolids, sugar beets, dairy waste, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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Vortex Tools discusses the idea of taxing states that benefit from technological breakthroughs in oil and gas (namely hydraulic fracturing/fracking) while limiting its use.

A few months back, I mentioned that Fort Collins, Colorado, was considering a five-year moratorium on fracking (initiative 2A). Well, in November, 2A passed and the ban is on. Unlike Vermont’s fracking ban—which was akin to a land-locked state making rules against the ocean—Colorado actually has oil and gas operations to hinder, and these moratoriums against fracking bring new complications.

We live in a meme culture where people attempt (and fail) to summarize complicated issues with a picture and an oft-scathing caption. Take this Twitter pic for example:

Twitter anti-fracking labels pic

It’s actually pretty funny—noting how this protestor’s camp gear was essentially enabled by oil and gas production (same goes for your smart phone, FYI)—but there are several fracking issues that are actually concerning: For example, the amount of water used in fracking. Some put that average at 3-5 million gallons per frack job. Multiply that by the number of wells drilled in a year and that’s hundreds of billions of gallons of water annually. Up until recently, the produced water from these frack jobs was largely not being reused (though innovative companies are starting to change). It got pumped back down and stored underground.

With our sister company, SpiroFlo, working in both water savings and water purification applications, we know the specifics of how wrong this approach is, but you don’t need to be an expert to realize that, with a water shortage looming in 2020, this—and frankly, a lot of our residential water use practices—are unsustainable.

I’ve noted before that many fracking issues are not about good science (along with valid reasons why oil and gas companies are hesitant to own up to mistakes), but there are parts of the fracking practice that need to change. I’ve been to enough oil and gas conferences to know that the industry isn’t opposed to regulation, just bad regulation. That may sound like a good public talking point, but the anti-fracking group has its own questionable statements.

I hear people talk about potential alternate energy use (read: absolute best case scenario / rabid fantasy for wind power and solar) as if it could replace oil and gas today. Others say they want to ban fracking, but won’t own up to wanting to ban oil and gas use, period. Many of them don’t know that a ban on fracking is essentially a ban on oil and gas in today’s world (some do and don’t want to publicly admit it).

And what about cities and states that want to ban fracking? What are the consequences for them? Right now, there aren’t really any. A co-worker of mine has over 30 years in the oil and gas industry. He’s seen a lot of what works and a lot of what doesn’t. His idea is to tax cities and states than ban fracking, because they’re hindering energy growth (along with bringing back up all those foreign oil dependency issues people don’t like) while benefitting from the energy-reduction perks that stem from these technological breakthroughs. Shouldn’t there be a cost to that?

According to recent polling, most New Yorkers are opposed to fracking. While the percentage of that majority can vary, on the opposite side, most of these same New Yorkers have embraced lower heating bills thanks to an abundance of cheaper natural gas from widely fracked areas like the Marcellus Shale.

Maybe you’ve noticed cheaper gasoline at the pump in 2013. In part, you can blame fracking for that, too.

Overall, there’s a need to educate people on both the pros and cons of fracking (and the practices of the oil and gas industry as a whole). It’s not a quick and easy debate, and part of the responsibility falls on the debaters themselves.

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Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home), industrial water purification (biofilm removal), and reduced water pumping costs.

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, dairy waste, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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cleantech open logoI’m pleased to announce that SpiroFlo qualified as a semi-finalist for the 2013 Cleantech Open (CTO) for our residential hot water savings and industrial biofilm removal applications.

If you’ve followed this blog—gnawing on every tasty word (and why wouldn’t you?)—you’d know that I had a lot to say, good and bad, about going through the 2012 CTO as Vortex Tools. A fair question then to ask is: Why are you doing it again?

There are two main reasons:

  1. The Cleantech Open receives criticism and makes changes: I’m not going to say that all the changes came from what I said—common problems become commonly shared complaints—but I’m as blunt in-person and I had opportunity to share my thoughts with the CTO planners. Regardless of how it happened, this year they’ve changed the overall judging scheme. I still think they’re going to be painfully shorthanded volunteer-wise, but I’m willing to wait and see.
  2. SpiroFlo is a better fit: Last year, we entered thinking that the CTO is a competition, and chose our more established, more successful green oil and gas company, Vortex Tools. While the CTO is a competition, it’s designed more to accelerate smaller companies, making SpiroFlo a better fit.

I highly doubt I’ll write as much on the CTO as I did before, but I do like that it keeps me apprised of innovation in the green sector, as well as the same old flawed thinking that doesn’t seem to budge. Odds are there will be a speaker who, A) believes nuclear energy and/or oil and gas can be done away with today; and B) we can do so because of what some non-American country (usually Japan or somewhere in Europe) is doing with wind and solar.

I’m a fan of some of these technologies—living in a dry state, seeing what Germany has done to implement green roofs makes me jealous—but there’s a misguided belief among some environmentalists that multi-year, best scenario projections will equate to reality. Even by favorable estimates, Japan’s current wind and solar use could offset maybe 10% of their nuclear energy use, and that’s before you get into the painful realities of what happens when you try to move large amounts of business from one entity to another.

However it goes, I’m sure I’ll annoy some people when I take to the microphone. I’m looking forward to it.

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Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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SpiroFlo shares a British infographic on business electricity costs and ramifications.

For all that’s legitimate in this infographic, I have to pick on one statement: “Enough sunlight falls on the earth in one hour to power the entire world for a year!”

This is possible… if we could actually develop a solar panel that could capture, store and use that much energy. We’d also have to cover the whole earth in this amazing, not-yet-invented solar panel. This means no more oceans, no more landscapes. As for the Egyptian pyramids? Cover them with solar panels. The Statue of Liberty? Solar panel her (and replace that flame while you’re at it). The Great Wall of China, the Lighthouse of Alexandria, the Roman Coliseum? Panels, panels, panels!

While we’re at it, we might as well cover ourselves in full body solar panel outfits. If nothing else, we’ll be one step closer to looking like a Tron movie. In the meantime, it’s a good reminder of why solar could be so big:

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Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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SpiroFlo looks at a clip from the first Presidential debate where the candidates discuss ending tax breaks for oil and green energy.

Last night, President Obama and republican candidate Romney debated a number of issues. One of the most quotable lines, however, came from Mitt Romney on President Obama’s decision to put $90 billion or “fifty years worth of (tax) breaks” into green energy, namely solar and wind. Romney cited such failures as Solyndra and Ener1. Tesla and Fisker (and their flaming car) also got lumped in as implied wastes of money.

The real zinger from Romney to Obama: “You don’t just pick winners and losers, You pick the losers.”

Of course, this was couched as being a friend’s opinion, not Romney’s. Early in the clip, Obama confirms that he believes that the 100-year oil tax breaks should go: “It’s time to end it,” he said:

However frustrating you consider these opinions, you can take comfort in knowing that you probably have more control over these politicians than moderator Jim Lehrer did last night.

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Colin McKay Miller is the Vice President of Marketing for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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SpiroFlo breaks down a report from Clean Edge on the top 10 clean energy states in the US.

I’ve mentioned before that one of the problems with “green” is that it’s a term you can make mean whatever you want based on how you define things. Take this Clean Edge report on the top 10 clean energy states:

It sounds good. They use “more than 70 different indicators in technology, policy, and capital”  — including patents filed, capital invested, alternative fuels/vehicles registered, amount of clean source energy, etc. — to rank the 50 states. While #1 is no surprise, some of the others shake out differently than I thought:

  1. California
  2. Oregon
  3. Massachusetts
  4. New York
  5. Colorado
  6. Washington
  7. New Mexico
  8. Minnesota
  9. Connecticut
  10. Vermont

The top 10 list in clean energy leadership — based on capital invested, green laws, job creation, etc. — is similar, save some ranking shifts and a couple of replacements: New Jersey and Maryland come in (at #5 and #8 respectively); New Mexico and Vermont get the boot. No need to call your bookie: California holds strong at #1.

However, even the creators of the study know some of the numbers are off. For example, Oklahoma leads in electrical vehicles registered, but as two of the largest rental companies simply register there and rent the cars elsewhere — surprise! — California is still number one in this area. Iowa legitimately leads in wind power reliance, but that doesn’t actually mean they produce wind power; they just use it. This pinnacle of wind power reliance? 15%. California takes the bronze here.

Eventually though, my brain starts to rebel. Even based on conservative estimates, California has the top 6 of the 10 worst cities for air pollution (and some studies credit them with 9 of the 10), yet they place at the top of most clean energy studies. Granted, you can’t help your population (leading to more cars and thus more air pollution) and some of the other dynamics of where you live, but if it’s about effort, why doesn’t a state like Wyoming place higher? Does their high “clean” placement in wind power usage not offset their high “dirty” placement in coal use?

If nothing else, I bet I can rig a study to get the results I want. Actually, this is the internet; if I wait 10 minutes, someone will do it for me.

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Colin McKay Miller is the Marketing Manager for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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