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The Impact of the Oil & Natural Gas Industry on the Economy

Oil and natural gas are two of the most commonly used raw materials available. When it comes to numbers and dollar values, the industry is considered to be one of the largest sectors of the economy worldwide. Every day billions of dollars are generated through the oil and gas business, and petroleum-based products are in high demand.  

Supports Employment 

The oil and natural gas industry is a great supporter of employment opportunities. Job growth and availability is a key component of success within the economy, and as the industry continues to thrive, it opens up various employment opportunities. Consider the operation of the oil and gas industry overall; the process of producing involves many different moving parts. For example, labor-intensive jobs alone, like drilling crews, mechanics, and operators are all essential in the process. In general, the oil and gas industry is responsible for supporting roughly 10 million jobs.

Production Costs 

Production and manufacturing costs are heavily influenced by the price of oil and natural gas. An increase or decrease in pricing can significantly impact the domestic economy. Low oil prices generally mean lower costs for transportation. Additionally, lower oil prices can lead to a significant decrease in manufacturing costs as well. An increase in price tends to add to the cost of conducting regular business. “Conversely, high oil prices add to the costs of doing business. Whether it is higher cab fares, more expensive airline tickets, the cost of apples shipped from California, or new furniture shipped from China, high oil prices can result in higher prices for seemingly unrelated products and services.”

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This article was originally published on blakezimmermanhouston.com

How Can Solar Energy Benefit the Environment?

Environmental concern is increasing rapidly, and people are trying to do what they can to be more environmentally conscious. Renewable energies have become a significant focus for many homeowners, business owners, and large corporations across the United States. Solar energy, for example, is being widely used by big businesses and regular homeowners to preserve energy and become more environmentally friendly. Here are a few ways solar energy can benefit the environment:

Can Improve Health 

The use of solar energy can drastically decrease the potential for air pollution. Air pollutants are often responsible for many respiratory illnesses and cardiovascular problems. The widespread use of solar energy would significantly reduce the emittance of nitrous oxide and sulfur dioxide, both of which can cause serious health problems. Overall, solar panels can be used as a source of energy that won’t contribute to air pollution. 

Reduce Greenhouse Gasses

Greenhouse gasses are produced when fossil fuels burn; they are one of the main contributors to an increase in global temperatures and climate change. Your carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions are significantly reduced by the use of solar energy and other renewable forms. According to Vivint Solar, “As the carbon count continues to increase, so will our retention of heat from the sun. These changing air conditions will continue to affect different climates, causing some to warm, others to cool, and causing weather patterns everywhere to become more sudden and volatile.” 

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Is Wave Power the New Solar?

Is Wave Power the New Solar_ _ Blake Zimmerman Houston

Out With the Old, In With the New?

Solar energy is a great way to generate usable energy from a source that is readily available to most places. Though solar energy is great it is not always the best option for certain places. Therefore, many other forms of renewable energy are being researched. One of the most profound sources of energy currently is wave energy.

Wave Energy

Waves are created by a variety of environmental forces. The most common force that people know is the force of wind, which creates waves as it hits the surface of the water. Gravitational pull, the force generated by the interactions between the sun, earth, and moon, is also responsible for the creation of waves. These waves, though created by energy that moves through water, also generate energy.

Attenuators

Wave energy can be captured by a system that utilizes attenuators, a device that works opposite to the way that an amplifier works. The wave energy is captured by attenuators that sit perpendicular to the direction of the moving waves. As the waves continue to move along the body of the attenuator, the attenuator continues to move as well. The movement of the attenuator transfers to a hydraulic pump which then converts the wave energy into usable energy.

Absorbers

Absorber systems utilize buoys to capture wave energy from the surface of the water. The energy is transferred through a series of cables and underwater devices to an undersea substation. A linear or rotary generator is then used to convert the energy into a usable form of electric energy.

Water Columns

Oscillation water columns (OWC) use a combination of water, air, and gravity to create pressure within the column system. Air is transferred as the system is continually pressurized and depressurized. The transferred air is then pulled into an air turbine which subsequently converts the energy into usable energy.

Devices

There are two types of devices that can be used to convert wave energy: overtopping devices and inverted-pendulum devices. Overtopping devices utilize turbine systems to drain water and convert the mechanical energy into electrical energy. Inverted-pendulum devices, as suggested by their name, use an upside-down pendulum device to sway with waves. A series of hydraulic pumps and electric generators then convert the energy transferred by the inverted-pendulum device.

Originally posted to BlakeZimmermanHouston.net.

Predicting the Future of The Oil and Gas Industry

Predicting the Future of The Oil and Gas Industry _ Blake Zimmerman

As oil prices have begun to recover from the 2014 oil price crash, the future of the oil and gas industry has been a hotly debated topic in American media. On one hand, renewable energy and green energy continue to gain a foothold in the collective consciousness of Americans. On the other hand, oil and gas continue to be the cheapest, most efficient fuel available to mankind. Based on the contrast between the rise of green energy and the the cheap availability of crude oil in the United States, here are our predictions for the future of the oil and gas industry.

Experts Predict a Thriving Oil and Gas Industry in America

According to oil and gas experts, the oil and gas market is not as affected by the pricing volatility that affects so many other American industries. One reason for this is that there seems to be a growing demand for gas and oil on a worldwide basis.

Although green energy is being pushed in places like Europe, Canada, and the United States, there are so many places in the developing world that still have an absolutely rabid demand for oil.

For example, in India, there are currently only 4 cars per 100 people. As India’s economy continues to stabilize and grow, more people will purchase automobiles, which will increase the country’s need for gasoline.

There are many countries like India around the world, countries where individuals are starting to mobilize and want things like homes, cars, and electronics. American oil companies will undoubtedly export oil to countries like India in the coming years, which will allow the country’s oil industry to remain strong.

Untapped Oil Reserves Still Exist in America

According to CNN, the United States now has more untapped oil than any other country in the world. This might come as a surprise to some readers, who think of the Middle East as the hub of the global oil and gas industry. But America’s reliance on importing oil from other nations like Saudi Arabia has allowed the country’s oil reserves to build up over the past few decades.

But as of 2016, an independent energy firm predicted that America has a store of 264 billion barrels of oil—approximately half of this oil exists as shale oil. So, with that said, the future of gas and oil is full of possibilities. As the world continue to expand, a need for oil and gas will increase accordingly. Finding untapped or undiscovered stores of oil and gas will be key as we progress into the next decade.

Originally posted on BlakeZimmermanHouston.com.

Developing Commercial Solar Farms: The Process and How to Make Them Profitable

Developing Commercial Solar Farms_ The Process and How to Make Them Profitable _ Blake Zimmerman Houston

In 2018, 1.6% of the total electricity generated in the U.S. was powered by solar energy. Now, that number may seem small, but considering how often and how much energy we use on a daily basis it is actually quite substantial. What’s more, solar power is only increasing in popularity—and not just among those looking to make greener choices, but with savvy and innovative real estate developers.

Solar power has consistently “ranked either first or second in capacity added to the U.S. electric total every year since 2013.” As such, many states are beginning to see the advantage of solar farms, specifically their low costs and low cost distribution-level interconnections. With the right piece of land, landowners and developers can take advantage of solar power’s growing popularity.

Developing a commercial solar farm is similar to many development projects in that your plans must abide by local zoning laws, covenants, or restrictions.

A Solar Energy Primer

A basic understanding of solar energy is absolutely vital to ensuring a reasonably sized project, as well as a realistic goal for yourself. Here are some basic numbers and terms that can help you better understand solar power and how it’s measured:

  • The sun continuously emits approximately 173,000 terawatts of energy, which is a more than adequate amount to cover the world’s average use of 15 terawatts a year. Though there is a bounty of energy waiting, it is difficult to collect.
  • There are two methods of collecting solar energy, photovoltaic solar cells and solar thermal, and they both require vast amounts of sunlight with little to no interference.
  • Energy output is often measured in gigawatts per hour (GWh) or in megawatts. 1 gigawatt equals 1,000 megawatts.
  • According to The Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), a farm using photovoltaic cells would need at least 2.8 acres of land to produce 1 GWh per year. Therefore, a farm would need to cover approximately 32 acres to produce enough electricity for 1,000 homes.

Picking the Land and Land Rights

On average, one megawatt of solar energy can power about 200 homes, so most experts recommend using 6-8 acres of land per megawatt. Acquiring the solar panels to produce a megawatt will total around $3 million dollars. In general, for development costs to balance out, your farm should produce at least one megawatt, if not more. If you’d like your farm to have the capability to cover more homes, you’ll need many, many acres of land to develop.

Landowners will often lease out their property for the development of wind and solar farms in order to generate a profit out of unused land. Whereas wind farms allow extra space for the landowner to use, solar farms take up much more ground space, and therefore may result in a landowner charging more for your use of their land. If leasing land, experts recommend you choose sites that are low in agricultural or mineral value, as they will often cost significantly less and allow for a larger return.

Some of the best advice about developing solar farms comes from attorneys who specialize in the matter. They argue that “in order to maintain the deductibility of land cost for federal income tax purposes, it has usually, historically been best that the project entity not acquire fee title to the land.” However, larger projects may be interested in buying the fee title, as it might have advantages when it comes to economic and water rights.

Permits

To develop and run a commercial solar farm, an energy facility permit must be filed and approved. In most cases, developers can file through their state or local jurisdiction, but if the property sits on federal land a permit must be submitted to the federal government.

Permits and application processes vary from state to state. Some states in the U.S. have councils who directly oversee and approve where energy facilities can be built. Midwestern states often have their public utilities commission oversee the application process for energy facilities. In some places, state approval is enough to begin development. In others, both state and local permits must be filed and approved separately.

In addition to the permit process, the federal government, as well as each state and local government, may apply environmental and land use rules to your project.

The federal government will work to ensure the project isn’t encroaching on Army Corps permits or endangered species by requiring the completion of an environmental review. They will analyze how the development will impact the built and natural elements around the site, such as wildlife, water, and roads/traffic patterns. State and local governments will conduct their own environmental review and analysis of the project.

Interconnecting

The whole purpose of developing a commercial solar farm is to give people the ability to use your product to power their home. In order for that to happen, solar farm developers and owners must work with local utility companies to connect your project to the utility grid.

Though it is illegal for them to deny you the right to connect, they may warn against it. In many areas of the United States the cost of interconnection is sky high. Knowing the fees associated with interconnection can help you gain a better idea of the viability of your project.

The best way to identify the potential cost of interconnectivity is to examine the utility service’s online interconnection maps, if they have them. You’ll need to locate wires on your property and identify which voltage they are from on the map. From there you can decipher how much interconnectivity will cost.

Solar power is only increasing in popularity—the uses and possibility for greatness keep increasing as well. In order to collect enough solar energy to make a real impact, more and more solar farms need to be built. Real estate developers have a great opportunity to make a real difference, as well as jump on a growing trend, by getting into the solar power arena.

Originally published on BlakeZimmermanHouston.net.

How Technology is Changing the Natural Gas and Oil Industry

As technology continues to advance and develop, industries are learning to adapt and prosper. The oil and gas industry has used technology to change business and operations. As new devices and innovations continue to develop, the industry becomes more efficient and productive. Check out the latest tech trends in the oil and gas industry:

Intelligent Hydrate Platform

One product shaping the industry is a device that manages gas hydrates with real-time intelligence. The device can enable the digital transformation of the oilfield. Because gas hydrates are so imperative to the safety and environment of hydrocarbons in deep and cold offshore locations, it’s important to have such a device to manage it efficiently and effectively. This device is also very cost-effective.

Lift-Scan

It’s important on any oil and gas site to have productive on and offloading. A gaming-changing device set to revolutionize the industry is the lift-scan. The lift-scan is a crane with a crane block camera with the ability to perform deck scanning for more efficient loading. The product will also allow for hands-free communication for the first time and real-time visibility of the operator. Productivity will increase through the use of this device and offer better safety features for offshore sectors.

Polyurethane Foam Flex (PUFF)

When disaster strikes on gas and oil rigs, it can be deadly serious for workers and the environment. If there were to be an oil spill of any kind, PUFF is the most practical, quick, and effective method for adsorbing hydrocarbons. It has the ability to absorb up to about 30 times its weight different kinds of hydrocarbons, such as 10w40 oil, light, and heavy fuel oils. In about two minutes, the material saturates, can be wrung out, and recovers pure hydrocarbons without water. PUFF can also be reused over 100 times, allowing the recovery of about three tonnes of oils. Best of all, it is not harmful to marine or human health.

Humans and Machines

As technology continues to advance in the oil and gas industry, devices and humans are becoming co-workers. Technology isn’t being developed to replace workers, but instead, help to enhance their abilities to perform. In a more digital workplace, oil and gas companies are transforming into greater productive and fast-moving organizations. Technology will improve and revolutionize the industry.

How to Prepare for a Power Grid Failure

Every day, people use electricity without a second thought. From switching on the lights to charging devices, electricity is used to sustain the way of life. Although it is used every day, not many people understand the power it takes or where it all comes from. All of America’s electricity comes from an electric grid that is run from asset owners, manufacturers, service providers, and government officials.

As the electronic infrastructure begins to age, the Office of Electricity (OE) is looking for new ways to transform, improve the ways of electricity, and prepare for a possible power grid failure.

Demand for Modernizing Electricity

For generations, electricity has been conducted one way. The ways of old electricity must come to an end and make way for new innovative technology. There is a higher demand for more efficient and reliable electricity. This way there will be far fewer power outages and other technical difficulties. Time and time again, storms cut out power and leave the public in darkness for sometimes days. By modernizing electricity, this will be a thing of the past. Not only will service be restored faster, but consumers will also be able to manage their usage and costs of electricity with a more modern approach.

Introducing ‘Smart Grid’

In an effort to modernize the power grid, the ‘smart grid’ is now being developed. The smart grid concept uses two-way communication technologies, control systems, and computer processing with sensors known as Phasor Measurement Units (PMUs) that alert operators of grid stability. It also gives consumers the ability to gain information on outages, recovers from outages more quickly through its sensors, has automated feeder switches that reroute power around problems, as well as batteries to keep excess energy to have readily available later in order to meet customer demand.

Benefits of a Modern Power Grid

Over the years, OE has put a considerable amount of investment and research into modernizing technology. Because of their efforts, the public could see a shift in the ways of the power grid. As they create innovative technologies and techniques for more reliable energy, there could be a safer and cheaper way of providing consumers energy. By having a system to analyze and optimize information to properly manage energy, less money will be put in fixing power outages and less electricity will be used irresponsibly.