Posting in Energy
A start-up has built an indoor solar power generator, which produces steam to pump oil. The lower cost steam could reduce the financial need for oil companies to drill new wells.
After a century of pumping crude, an oil well in Bakersfield, Calif. has a slightly greener outlook. A start-up called GlassPoint has converted the well's steam powered pumping system to solar power.
The solar cells are housed indoors, and are positioned to catch optimal rays through an elaborate system of motors and movable aluminum coated mirrors.
The sun's energy is captured to generate steam, which is then pumped into the ground to extract oil. In doing so, GlassPoint has eliminated the need for well owner Berry Petroleum to continuously burn up natural gas to generate steam.
GlassPoint calls its system "solar enhanced oil recovery." The company is led by a team of engineering and business veterans. It received US$3.5 million in financing from Chrysalix Energy Venture Capital in Sept. 2010.
Lower cost steam will help oil drillers to extract more crude from existing facilities, disrupting the cost structure enough that drilling new wells could become less economical, GlassPoint CEO Rod MacGregor told the Bakersfield Californian newspaper.
GlassPoint's indoor solar setup has also shed some of the costs associated with building arrays outdoors, Forbes reports. The solar generators do not include the rare metals that are found in photovoltaic panels, and unlike panels, do not require hydraulic actuators for positioning.
The metals used to manufacture solar cells have become subject to international trade disputes, and some scientists are lobbying for more government funding to research alternative materials.
Feb 28, 2011
@all the critics. Unless you are all living in homes that have absolutely no petroleum by products in them, driving around in cars that don't have rubber wheels and are powered by wind power and only wearing "natural" clothes you are nothing but a bunch of hypocrites.
What irony! Solar power assisting in extraction of fossil fuel. Next we'll see wind turbines on oil rigs.
hmm http://news.slashdot.org/story/11/03/01/1414254/Arkansas- Earthquakes-Could-Be-Man-Made?from=headlines "The small earthquakes that struck north central Arkansas could be from a combination of natural and man-made activity. Some experts think that pumping water into the ground as part of the extraction process of natural gas could cause local seismic events."
Good news - Bad news, if you also consider ground water quality, and a lot more old wells start fracturing w/ steam to get oil out because it is now cheap.