Domestic crude oil production has increased rapidly over the past five years, reversing half a century of declines.
At the same time, there has been increasing discussion about the country’s renewable energy potential.
“Our US of Energy map is intended to be a conversation starter — an opportunity to begin telling the awesome, positive story of America’s domestic energy revival,” Blake Jackson, vice president of digital at Saxum, said on the company’s blog.
A Saxum team spent five weeks researching and crafting the design before putting everything together.
“What began as a simple graphic showcasing America’s energy riches quickly grew into a two-sided, folded map concept displaying thousands of individual data points,” Jackson said.
Oklahoma State University held its 7th Annual Energy Conference on Tuesday in Oklahoma City, and our man Jay F. Marks (@okenergybeat) was a tweeting machine. You can read his dispatches below and check out Energy Editor Adam Wilmoth’s recap of the conference here. For the speaker presentations, go here.
A new documentary on energy, “Switch,” is getting good reviews from both environmentalists and those in the energy industry.
I had the chance to see it last night at a screening in Oklahoma City. (It continues tonight and Thursday.)
I’ve seen the controversial fracking film “Gasland” and the energy industry’s response, “Truthland,” so my tolerance for talking points on both sides of the debate was fairly low. I was pleasantly surprised by the depth and measured tone of “Switch.”
The movie, which was made with the help of the American Geosciences Institute foundation, follows geologist and University of Texas professor Scott Tinker around the world as he explores where and how our energy is harvested. It includes some spectacular shots of massive coal mines in Wyoming, hydro projects in the fjords of Norway and wind farms in Texas.
“Switch” also features a short interview with Chesapeake Energy Corp. CEO Aubrey McClendon and follows a Chesapeake “fracking” crew out in the field. The documentary doesn’t shy away from discussing the public concerns about hydraulic fracturing and has interviews with environmentalists, policy makers and industry officials.
But “Switch” is more than just fracking. It takes a comprehensive look at the world’s energy needs, with a particular emphasis on the rapidly growing demand for energy in China, India and other developing countries. The takeaway? Those countries will be using coal and oil to meet their future energy needs, and there’s little the developing world can do about it.
It doesn’t take long for serious discussions about energy to get complicated, but “Switch” boils down all the talk of megawatts and BTUs to a simple unit: the amount of energy an average person uses in a year. (If you’re curious, Tinker defines it as about 20 million watt-hours of energy.) From an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico to a concentrated solar plant in Spain, the movie defines the energy produced in terms of how many people it would power.
For all the technology improvements in energy, “Switch” makes it clear that it comes down to scale. A technology advancement or discovery might be great, but if you can’t scale it up to serve large numbers of people, then it will remain a niche solution. Through a combination of renewables and nuclear power, the film estimates the world will reach a “switch” point in 2064. That’s when the use of renewables and nuclear will match the use of “foundational” fuels coal and oil.
The last part of “Switch” focuses on energy efficiency and what individuals can do at home to save money–and energy. The efficiency side of the equation is often forgotten about in the political fights over energy policy, but the film makes it clear that the energy we waste is just as important as the energy we
If you can’t make it to the remaining screenings in Oklahoma City, check out the “Switch” website, which has short videos and some highlights from the documentary.
The Department of Energy released a report this month saying its grant program for wind and solar projects saved or created an estimated 52,000 to 75,000 jobs from 2009 to 2011.
The 2009 federal stimulus bill included $9 billion in grants for wind, solar and other renewable power projects. Known as the Section 1603 program, the grants went to more than 23,000 wind and solar projects across the country. The program was designed to replace tax-equity financing that dried up during the banking crisis in 2008. Developers took the grants instead of existing tax credits for wind or solar.
Oklahoma projects received more than $246.8 million (less than 3 percent), according to the Treasury Department, which administered the program. Here’s a list of the grantees:
The preliminary report said the grant program spurred about $30 billion in total investment from private, state and local sources for renewable energy projects.
Although the primary intent of the §1603 program was to minimize the impact of the weakened tax equity market on renewable project development, by providing project developers with an alternative way to recoup the value of the tax incentives, it ensured that development of renewable energy projects, and the jobs and economic benefits associated with those projects, were not hindered by weak tax equity markets.
Of course, like any economic report that attempts to measure jobs, the report includes some important caveats:
Some projects supported by §1603 awards may still have been implemented without the availability of the award, while others may have progressed only as a direct result of the program.