One of the most appealing of all alternate energy sources is the wind. The wind is immediately available, and readily convertible: unlike fossil fuels, it does not require millions of years of processing, and refinement. The wind is not based upon a non-renewable energy source, as is nuclear power. Solar energy — a category to which wind belongs — is constant and abundant and the wind is one of the more easily utilized aspects of the sun’s power. The joint committee of the National Science Foundation and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has suggested that by the year 2000, a serious development program in wind power could produce 1.5 trillion kilowatt hours a ear of electricity — almost the total amount of electricity consumed yearly In the United States up until the last few years. That prediction is termed self-fulfilling by one of the foremost authorities in wind power in this country, William E. Heronemus, professor of civil engineering and aerodynamics at the University of Massachusetts, Heronemus has almost single-handedly taken on the utilities
The sudden rise in the price of crude oil two years ago provided the stimulus for serious consideration and allocation of funds — for the development of alternate energy sources. The initial antagonism between environmentalists and the energy industry has abated somewhat, although pressure to lower clean air standards, speed up construction of nuclear power plants, and to accelerate strip mining and offshore drilling are still top priorities of the oil and utility industry, and of the Ford Administration. But a significant development is the change of attitude within government and industry concerning alternate energy sources. For the first time the idea is being taken seriously, and both private enterprise and government agencies are moving quickly to get in on the action. For the amount of money that will be spent on energy research and development over the next two decades is phenomenal. Atomic energy remains the first priority. Responsibility for researching and developing solar power technology, the most promising alternative to atomic and hydrocarbon sources, has fallen to the Energy Research and Development Administration.
Southern Mexico’s states of Chiapas and Tabasco are low, swampy areas at the base of the Yucatan peninsula that float on rich deposits of oil. The most recent, and most significant, discoveries have been made here, and production from the new wells has grown almost one thousand per cent during the last two years. Mexico plans to earn almost $500 million in oil and gas profits in 1975, and the country has gained the coveted position of oil exporter. In celebration of the thirty-seventh anniversary of the creation of Petroleos Mexicanos (PEMEX), Mexico’s nationalized oil industry, a ceremony was held by PEMEX this spring in Reforma, Chiapas. It was attended by President Luis Echeverria, and Carlos Andres Perez, the president of Venezuela, another oil producing country of the Americas. The elaborate preparations, and the apparent prosperity of those attending, stood in sharp contrast to the more elemental conditions of life throughout Mexico. It is still among the poorer nations, with a vast gap between the rural poor that make up more than half the population,
Houston’s Shamrock Hilton Hotel is part of the city’s on-going construction boom, built in part to accommodate traffic between Houston and every oil-producing nation in the world. Here President Ford chose to attack Congress for taking a “reckless gamble” by opposing his plan to conserve energy by taxing imported oil, before a select audience of prominent businessmen all involved in some way in hydrocarbons. The meeting was arranged by the Chamber of Commerce of what has become the oil capital of America, and it reflected the intimacy and commonality of purpose of an industry conference. “Personally, I am very sensitive to the dramatic cost increases in domestic oil and gas exploration and development…. In the last twelve to eighteen months, the costs of drilling a well have gone up one hundred per cent, or more. With these facts in mind, I think we have to understand the need for incentives…. “I think it would be a very serious mistake not to make maximum use of the marketplace to achieve our national goals. There is no
The little town of Albany, Texas, lies in the oil patch — any area where oil exists and is produced, and the oilman’s profession — between Abilene and Wichita Falls. It is surrounded by what are known as stripper wells, those that produce ton barrels or less of oil a day. The curious, hammer-shaped pumpers can be seen from the highway, rising and falling in mechanical affirmation, and on the front lawns of Albany’s more fortunate residents. Owning even one stripper well not only qualifies one to join the fraternity of oil, but it also can provide several hundred extra dollars of income a month. Stripper wells represent the leavings of independent oilmen and major companies who are not interested in working the dribbles. Strippers constitute seventy per cent of the oil wells in America, though their percentage of the total production is small. There are eighty-eight thousand stripper wells in Texas alone, accounting for only fifteen per cent of production. With proper attention, a stripper will pump indefinitely. It is the least glamorous way