Category Archives: General

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How Tech Giants Manage Their Energy Needs

Category : Efficiency , General , Wind

Major tech companies today take different approaches in their individual quests to find and use clean and renewable energy in order to power their massive data centers.

Microsoft recently announced its intentions to purchase a wind energy farm outside of Chicago. The farm will put power into the Chicago grid, from which Microsoft’s large data center in Chicago draws its power. Last year, Microsoft made a similar agreement to buy wind power from a similar facility in Texas, which would service its San Antonio data center. Microsoft uses hydroelectric power for its data center in Washington state.

Google relies primarily on utility deals and contracts for its energy supply, but has taken multiple active measures to clean up the way it uses its power. Google’s measures have included smart cooling controls and other technologies to avoid wasting energy.

Apple, however, unlike Microsoft or Google, chooses to build and own its own power. Apple owns some of the largest clean energy facilities in the world.

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How Dependent Are We On Foreign Oil

Category : General , Natural Gas , Oil

Since peaking in 2005, petroleum imports from foreign countries has declined to the point where our net imports totaled about 40 percent of the country’s total annual consumption in 2012. Imports of crude oil and petroleum by-products in 2012 totaled 11 million barrels per day (MMbd) while exporting 3.2 MMbd – a net import of 7.8 MMbd.

Net imports is calculated by subtracting the total amount of petroleum exported from the total amount of petroleum imported. Petroleum is not only crude oil, but also products derived from petroleum, such as diesel fuel, and heating oil.

It may surprise some people that one half of these imports came from the Western Hemisphere – the Americas, the Caribbean, and U.S. territories – not the Middle East. The two countries the United States imports the most oil from are Canada and Saudi Arabia. Other Middle Eastern countries that export oil to us are Bahrain, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Qatar.

Specific percentages of imported oil by country in 2012:

Canada – 28%

Saudi Arabia – 13%

Mexico – 10%

Venezuela – 9%

Russia – 5%

 The United States is the largest consumer of petroleum products in the world, using just over 18 MMbd. We are also the third largest producer of crude oil in the world, with an annual output of 6.5 MMbd in 2012. The difference between petroleum products and crude oil is that during processing crude oil expands, resulting in a number of by-products. Other sources of liquid fuel are a result of the processing of natural gas, and biofuels such as ethanol. The total production of these secondary sources of liquid fuel in 2012 was 4.8 MMbd.

The conclusion from this data is that the United States is far less dependent on foreign oil than it has been since 2005. Reasons for this decline are broad and numerous:

    • A decline in oil consumption
    • The modification of supply patterns
    • The financial crisis of 2008
    • Improvements in the efficiency of oil consuming machines
    • Alteration of economic growth patterns

In addition, petroleum product supplies were expanded as there was an uptick of the amount of domestic oil production, an increase in the domestic production and consumption of biofuels, and fuel recovery from the processing and refinement of natural gas.

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Energy Briefs

-A new group, Eagle LNG Partners, has formed to supply liquid natural gas. This group, comprised of several large fuel companies including Clean Energy Fuel Corps, Ferus Natural Gas Fuels, GE Ventures and GE Energy Financial Services, plans on creating small natural gas facilities as fuel distributors for large need areas suck as trucking and railways. LNG is becoming a more popular form of fuel, and as such, Eagle LNG Partners has decided to base its operations in Houston to begin distribution promptly. To read more on this, see

-10 countries sent delegates to a meeting called by the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power to discuss the need for the U.S. to increase exports of liquid natural gas. These countries suggested that an increase in exports would cause gas prices to lower by adding competition with other countries exporting LNG, namely Russia. This move would also strengthen foreign relations for the U.S. as well as allow smaller countries to have more options to trade with. For more information, see

-In September, 2013, China passed the United States as the world’s largest oil importer. China achieved this as the result of a boom in economic growth as well as a greater need for fuel due to the recently heightened popularity of automobiles. China is expected to be the largest oil importer until at least September of 2014. For more, see

-The United States is expected to be the largest producer of both petroleum and natural gas for the 2013 year, edging out both Russia and Saudi Arabia for the top spots. The U.S. has increased its production amounts each year since 2008 in both petroleum and natural gas. Russia and the United States have been close to even in production of fuel sources over the past two years, and 2013 is the first in a few years that a significant margin of lead has been seen. For a chart of production levels and more information, see