The first trip abroad by the embattled U.S. President will coincide with a conference between American and Saudi Arabian energy executives in Riyadh. Aramco, the global oil giant owned by the Saudi Kingdom, will ratify existing agreements with oil services companies based in Houston and other American cities in an effort by the Arab firm to diversify its energy portfolio. With crude oil prices falling across the world, Aramco is ready to explore other energy production ventures such as shale oil and solar power; such projects are being more efficiently handled by American companies equally concerned about fuel prices and the rising interest by consumers in alternative energy sources.
Not to be outdone by American electric automaker Tesla, luxury car manufacturer Mercedes-Benz announced a partnership with Vivint, a company dedicated to residential solar energy solutions in the U.S. Just weeks after Tesla began taking deposits from customers interested in transforming their roofs into solar power plants, Mercedes-Benz revealed itself as a major competitor. The German company is envisioning a future when their electric cars are recharged at the homes of their drivers. Preliminary pricing of a full solar energy system in California will be $13,000; an amount that is far more affordable than Tesla’s proposal.
Under normal circumstances, the political crisis in Venezuela and armed conflict in the Middle East should prompt higher oil prices, but the new energy paradigm in the U.S. is keeping gas prices low in most of the country; nonetheless, there are exceptions to this rule. The pretty state of Hawaii tacks on a $0.44 tax to each gallon of gasoline, which means that the average price on the islands is $3.39. Surprisingly, Alaska has even higher prices because refinery operations are not efficient. California is another heavy taxer of gasoline; $3.50 per gallon is the norm in Los Angeles, and a similar situation plays in Oregon and Washington.
A giant wind turbine made with 146,000 LEGO bricks was assembled in Liverpool to celebrate the Danish company’s milestone of becoming a 100 percent energy efficient firm. Through investments, workplace strategies and the purchase of carbon credits to offset its footprint, LEGO has achieved energy efficiency three years ahead of schedule. The manufacturing and distribution of LEGO bricks is not exactly a green venture; however, the company has invested more than a billion dollars in wind farms around the world; one example is the Burbo Bank Extension in the United Kingdom, which provides clean, renewable electricity to more than 200,000 homes.
Millions of households across Latin America have been using liquefied petroleum gas, otherwise known as propane, in their kitchens for several decades. Although propane is not a renewable energy source, it is far more efficient and cleaner than electrical stoves powered by traditional electricity generation plants. In California, some farmers are using propane for more than just cooking; they are also powering their heavy equipment and heating their facilities. Eight mid-sized farms switched to propane and realized combined savings of $86,000 in 2014. Farmers in South Dakota are considering converting their systems to propane at a time when natural gas is extremely affordable in the U.S.