The industry can no longer simply focus on the benefits of shale gas

George Mitchell, the pioneer of extracting shale gas economically, who died on July 26th, rarely talked to the press. In May 2012 The Economist conducted a written interview with him:

Fracking is an old technique, as is horizontal drilling. Geologists had long been aware of the huge reserves of shale gas. What made you decide that you could use the former to tap the latter? Had others before you tried and failed to make fracking and horizontal drilling economically viable?

Big oil companies knew the upside potential of shale gas, and many were working to economically extract the gas from the shale without much success. Many people were trying to make fracking work better, but they weren’t able to get the cells to give up the gas.

We knew there was gas in some of these shale fields. We would measure the volume of gas in the reservoir and it was very high methane (25-40% methane). You could get to the methane, but you couldn’t get it to leave the cells until you fractured it, and that was the major breakthrough.

Written by S.W. To read the full article, click here.

Solar Power Offers Saudi Arabia a Win-Win Energy Solution

Gulf countries, whilst rich in oil and natural gas, also have an abundant supply of sun, which makes them an ideal location for solar power technologies, yet despite this fact they lag far behind the rest of the world in terms of capacity installed.

Saudi officials have talked about solar power for years, and even made plans to install 41,000MW over the next 20 years, but whilst China installed 5,000MW in 2012 alone, Saudi Arabia still has virtually no solar generation capacity.

As solar prices have fallen, and oil prices have risen, Saudi Arabia now has a strong economic incentive to push ahead with its long awaited solar plans. Arabian Business has said that solar power would allow the Saudi’s to save more oil to be exported at over $100 a barrel, whilst at the same time producing electricity for less than half the cost of its current oil-fired power plants.

Written by Joao Peixe. To read the full article, click here

Solar in the Spotlight

Most of the attention may be focused on domestic oil and gas production, but it could be solar power that really helps the United States on its path to energy independence.

Aside from the high-profile bankruptcy of Solyndra—the solar panel maker that defaulted on a $528 million federal loan in 2011—the industry has been on a tear over the last couple of years. Solar installations are up more than 75 percent, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, which projects another 65 percent increase in 2013. The industry’s rapid expansion has made solar the fastest growing energy source in the United States, according to the SEIA.

Much of those gains are thanks to a combination of tumbling installation and equipment costs—photovoltaic solar costs dropped almost 30 percent in 2012, the SEIA reported—and the rise of an innovative approach to financing expensive rooftop solar panels called third-party-owned solar.

Written by Meg Handley. To read the full article, click here