Friday, March 11, 2011

Simona Drevensek: extracting oil with solar energy

The Fremont, California-based company has created a one-acre greenhouse filled with solar-energy collectors to create low-cost steam for an oil field. More, ideally, will follow.

The project is expected to reduce the costs of producing steam, which will lower the price of oil and ensure jobs. “This is the first solar EOR (enhanced oil recovery) facility in the world and it was built without government money. Because all the easy oil has already been extracted, this is where the next generation [of oil recovery] takes off,” said U.S. Representative Kevin McCarthy, congressman for California’s 22nd congressional district, adding that this could also expand local employment.

It could also recreate jobs, but how many and how you count them is up for debate.

"Each acre of solar field generates five jobs -- most of the elements needed were manufactured locally. Creating systems just for 20% of EOR energy would generate 25,000 jobs here," said MacGregor.

Simona Drevensek: Mobile App PlugShare prevents ‘range anxiety’

Many electric-car lovers hesitate when deciding to purchase an electric vehicle. The main reason: lack of public charging stations and the fear of running out of battery charge on the road. A new mobile app, PlugShare, could change that. An app for iPhone and iPod Touch released by Xatori Inc., an electric-vehicle software company, lets U.S. users share outlets with EV drivers. The idea is to create a social network similar to where people can share plugs with EV owners wanting to charge up anywhere they can get electricity.

The costs for electricity from a normal outlet are only about 15 cents an hour. “If you let someone charge for the afternoon it might cost 45 or 70 cents, a pretty small amount compared to the price of oil,” explained North, adding that the most likely users will be “people who want the EV revolution to happen”.

With PlugShare—a community-driven, EV (electric-vehicle) charging network—anyone can contribute to boosting electric-car use.

Simona Drevensek: More U.S. innovation finds a home overseas.

Trina is one of the largest solar makers in the world, but it is unclear how extensively the company will adopt Zep's technology.

Simona Drevensek: solar wastewater treatment plant

Hayward is turning its wastewater green.

This week, the Bay Area city unveiled a 1-megawatt (MW) solar-energy system built by REC Solar, offsetting 24 percent of Hayward’s wastewater treatment plant’s energy needs and thus saving 24 million pounds of carbon dioxide over a projected 25-year operating life. The installation covers about eight acres and will produce enough energy to power more than 153 homes.