World Oil Production, Solar Radio, and Other Energy News

Predictions about world oil production and an update on solar radio—a radio station that met most of its energy needs through solar electric generation—were among the energy news stories reported in this regular feature.

| July/August 1981

A DRY WELL? Political factors and technical hurdles could cause world oil production to drop by more than 20% by the year 2000, according to a recent federal study. The report forecasts a total daily production of about 50 million barrels, which represents a decline of 12 million barrels from current figures.

UPDATE ON SOLAR RADIO: WBNO, a 500-watt radio station in cloudy Bryan, Ohio that switched from conventional to solar energy in 1979 is functioning better than ever: The photovoltaic installation was expected to provide 80% of the facility's needs, but is producing 90%.

CREMATORIUM COGENERATION? A 5,000-square-foot funeral home in Corvallis, Oregon is being heated by a $30,000 system that reclaims waste heat from the complex's natural gas-fired crematory. The setup permitted the mortuary's owners to take advantage of Oregon's alternative energy tax credits.

SLOWPOKE ISN'T A LAZY HORSE: The Atomic Energy Commission of Canada has developed a nuclear reactor—dubbed "Slowpoke"—that's purported to be the least expensive and smallest unit ever designed for commercial use. Researchers say the $850,000 mini-reactor can generate two megawatts of power and claim that the plant is safe enough to replace conventional furnaces in the basements of large hotels.

WHAT ABOUT BLACK CAR SEATS? A patent has been granted for "Solatorus," a solar collector made out of discarded automobile tires. The inventor of the device says that two of the units have successfully heated homes in Orange County, New York during the past two winters.

A CORPORATE BREAKTHROUGH? Southern California Edison recently amended previous statements to say that more than 30% of its additional generation needs will derive from "renewable and alternate sources" by 1990. In the past, the company had maintained that only about 10% of its energy could come from wind, solar, or geothermal power by the end of the century. Energy analysts likened the utility's announcement to "Richard Nixon recognizing China."

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