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Showing posts from July, 2008

A Horse in the Sun

Horsepower (hp) is a unit of (naturally) power, or energy delivered per unit time. It is most commonly used to rate the power delivered by internal combustion engines (automobiles, lawn mowers). For a precise definition and history of this unit, this entry in Wikipedia is a good read. There is some variability in the precise conversion between horsepower and other units, but it is approximately equal to 745 watts.

I find this value rather interesting, as this is roughly the incident power delivered, per square meter, of radiation from the sun -- and also roughly the area available on a horse for collecting said power. And of course, harvesting that power is a rather inefficient process -- about 10-20% for solar cells.

Something to think about when you see an automobile rated at 200 hp: it would take 2000 square meters of (cheap) solar panels to deliver the equivalent power. That is nearly half of a football field. Try towing that behind your car.

Sobering thought.

Khurais Media Tours

The Saudis are staging a massive PR effort for their Khurais redevelopment project. A sampling:

UPI: Saudis show journalists huge oil project
NY Times: Saudi Oil Project Brings Skepticism to the Surface
AP: Giant Saudi field is key to boosting oil output
FT: Saudis rely on Khurais to speak volumes
The National (UAE): Khurais joins Saudi giants

Journalists were brought in en masse. Of course, I am miffed that they did not invite me. But I doubt that Matt Simmons was invited either.

Some tidbits:

Now the Saudis are deploying an extraordinary engineering effort to bring Khurais’s mile-deep oil to the surface. Seawater will be carried through new pipelines from the Persian Gulf and injected into oil-bearing rock to pressure the oil upward. Usually Aramco pumps seawater into a field only after several years of production, and some skeptics point to this as a reason to doubt that Khurais will live up to its billing. But Mr. Nasser said the huge seawater injection system at Khurais was about cost an…