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Posts Tagged ‘wind 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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SpiroFlo looks at Gallup polling on how Americans view President Obama’s handling of the nation’s environment, energy policy, and prosperity.

Each year Gallup asks Americans if they think the President is doing a good job or a poor job at handling three key issues, and over the course of a President’s term, you can usually watch the that approval rating slide on down. Here’s how President Obama is faring since 2009:

Gallup polling Obama env good job

Although it’s not surprising that he ranks highest in protecting the U.S. environment, his 79% “good job” rating took a large fall in just one year (along with everything else) to just above 50% and has not recovered. Not surprisingly, President Obama has far greater approval with Democrats than Republicans (with independents leaning towards the Republican view of things):

Gallup polling Obama env good job by party However, as you can see, President Obama’s initial (2009) “good job” numbers were 10-15 points higher than where former President George W. Bush was in his first year (2001):

Gallup polling Bush env good job

Given the current trends, it is likely that, in his final year, President Obama will not dip below where President Bush was in his final year—especially given the financial pain of 2008 and how that affected Bush’s “good job” rating in prosperity. However, President Obama’s “good job” ratings plummeted more in that single 2009 to 2010 year than any of Bush’s single-year drops (likely due to the hope and change campaign message that encouraged his election).

If there is one thing that surprises me, it’s the contrast between President Bush’s “good job” rating in improving the nation’s energy policy versus President Obama’s. Taken at the six-year mark—2006 for Bush, 2014 for Obama—you can see that Obama is 17 points higher than where Bush was (42% to 25% respectively). While neither sees much success in this area, Gallup gives no indication as to the criteria in answering this question. Your political affiliation, coupled with your view of oil and gas, clean energy, and world politics, can shift your interpretation of that question dramatically. Regardless, overall, former President Bush settled out far lower than President Obama in this area.

Still, however you view it, the bottom line of presidential ratings sliding down over the years holds true.

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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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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 looks at recent data that notes, despite a 0.75-degree temperature increase since 1880, global temperatures have plateaued or been in decline for most of the last 70+ years.  

A little while back, I mentioned how even green circles are moving away from the term ‘global warming.’ This didn’t surprise me, as the term is as flimsy and definable as ‘green’ – meaning you can seemingly make it mean whatever you want. Numbers, however, they’re a little trickier to finagle:

According to August 2012 data jointly issued by the Met Office’s Hadley Centre and Professor Phil Jones’s Climatic Research Unit, global warming stopped in 1997.

(Well, guess that partly explains why my wrestler tan never quite came in.)

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Global_warming_graphic.png

That giant thermometer would make things easier…

While there’s a detailed article from the U.K.’s Daily Mail* on the matter, here’s what the data says and doesn’t say:

  • From the start of 1997 to mid-2012, there was no discernible increase in aggregate global temperatures (a period of 15 years thus far).
  • However, global temperatures did rise from 1980 to 1996 (a period of 16 years).
  • Prior to 1980, global temperatures were stable or declining for 40 years.
  • Climate scientists are now in a debate about the value of the data. Professor Jones notes that he and his colleagues did not understand “the impact of ‘natural variability’ – factors such as long-term ocean temperature cycles and changes in the output of the sun.”
  • That said, he also stated that the 15-year pause period is too short to draw conclusions and he remains convinced that decade-long data will show an overall rise in global temperatures from 2010-2020 (there was already a fair amount of press on 2010 being a warmer year, even if the overall trend is negligible).
  • Professor Judith Curry disagrees, stating that, based on this data, using current computer models to predict future warming is “deeply flawed.”
  • “Since 1880, when worldwide industrialisation began to gather pace and reliable statistics were first collected on a global scale, the world has warmed by 0.75 degrees Celsius.”
  • The data does not deny the impact of CO2 emissions on the environment or that a period of global warming might resume. However, it does suggest that the situation is not as dire as many have claimed.
  • Regardless, costly initiatives are still in place to reduce CO2 emissions.
  • Part of the reason gas bills are still increasing is due to “ ‘green’ subsidies being provided to the renewable energy industry, chiefly wind.”

While the article notes that press on the study was quiet, it doesn’t note why. Professor Jones and colleagues are the ones tracking the data, updating computer models to predict the warming, and then angling for the implementation of law and policies to prevent the mass warming reality. So, for the data (and therefore the basis of the computer programs) to be different than expected, suddenly the impact of this green movement is on the line.

For as aggressive as the green movement has been to establish credibility, that same aggressiveness works against them when the numbers (not the opinions) aren’t so clear-cut.

Other points to consider:

  • Professor Jones dismissed the value of the continuing 15-year plateau as being too small, yet still believes that a warming prediction of the ten-year period of 2010-2020 will be significant. No time like the present or unproven future, I guess.
  • The 16-year period of warming from 1980 to 1996 is the basis for much of the dire predictions, yet Jones does not dismiss it as being too small or insignificant in the big picture. Jones also had no comment (quoted at least) on the value of stable/declining temperatures from 1940-1980.
  • If you think about the time periods mentioned above and the blame placed on people for having too many CO2 emissions from fossil fuel use, some of the increases and decreases should be swapped. Additionally, if there is global warming from 2010-2020, a period where we’re seeking to limit CO2 use more than the periods before, doesn’t that data again work against Professor Jones’ theories on the source of global warming? Then again, doom saying has to be current if nothing else.
  • While climate scientists are realizing there are more factors to consider, this acknowledged variability on analyzing data still hasn’t shifted the majority of climate scientists to acceptance of other theories, namely those who reject the notion of people having major impact on the environment (with the belief that cooling and warming go in cycles).

CO2 emissions do have some impact. I think that’s the reality of being alive: You affect and effect things, environment included, but there’s more impacting the earth than just us. While we can play a part, thus far, regardless of what strong-arm talking heads say, the repercussions of that part are still debatable.

EDIT: Rebuttals to the article have popped up. See here.

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*Thanks to super fan Julia for sending the article along.

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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