Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources
The Energy Department announced on May 31 its plans to invest up to $120 million over five years in a new Energy Innovation Hub that will identify problems and develop solutions across the lifecycle of critical materials. Rare earth elements and other critical materials have unique chemical and physical characteristics—including magnetic, catalytic, and luminescent properties—that are important for a growing number of energy technologies. These critical materials are also at risk for supply disruptions. The new hub, funded by up to $20 million in Fiscal Year 2012, will carry out research aimed both at having a reliable U.S. supply of rare earths and other critical materials, as well as finding efficiencies and alternatives that reduce the amount of critical materials that are needed. The work will aim to advance U.S. leadership in energy-related manufacturing, including the production of electric vehicles, wind turbines, efficient lights, and other products.
Universities, national laboratories, nonprofit organizations, and private firms are eligible to compete and are encouraged to form partnerships when submitting their proposals. The award selection is expected this fall. This will be the fifth Energy Innovation Hub established by the Energy Department since 2010. See the Energy Department press release, the Energy Innovation Hubs website, and the funding opportunity announcement.
The Obama Administration announced on May 29 a $26 million multi-agency Advanced Manufacturing Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge to foster innovation-fueled job creation through public-private partnerships. The challenge will support projects that aim to help grow a region’s industry clusters by strengthening connections to regional economic development opportunities and advanced manufacturing assets; enhance a region’s capacity to create high-quality sustainable jobs; develop a skilled and diverse advanced manufacturing workforce; increase exports; encourage the development of small businesses; and accelerate technological innovation.
This is the third round of the Jobs Accelerator competition, which is being funded by the Energy Department; the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration and National Institute of Standards and Technology; the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration; the Small Business Administration; and the National Science Foundation. In this round, approximately 12 projects are expected to be chosen through a competitive inter-agency grant process. These coordinated investments will help catalyze and leverage private capital, build an entrepreneurial ecosystem, and promote cluster-based development in regions across the United States. The deadline for applications is July 9, 2012. See the interagency press release, the Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge webpage on Manufacturing.gov, and the grant opportunity on Grants.gov.
The Energy Department announced on May 24 that Daikin McQuay’s Rebel rooftop unit system is the first to meet DOE’s Rooftop Unit (RTU) Challenge. Five manufacturers—Daikin McQuay, Carrier, Lennox, 7AC Technologies, and Rheem—are participating in this challenge to commercialize highly efficient commercial air conditioners that satisfy a DOE-issued specification for energy savings and performance. When built to meet the specification, these units are expected to reduce energy use by as much as 50%, relative to units built to current standards. Nationwide, if all 10- to 20-ton RTUs met the specification, businesses would save more than $1 billion each year in energy costs. The five companies have until April 1, 2013, to submit a product for independent evaluation according to the specification.
Manufacturers nationwide have a strong motivation to produce highly energy-efficient air conditioning units for commercial buildings. Members in DOE’s Commercial Buildings Energy Alliances (CBEA), such as Target, Walmart, and other participating commercial building owners have expressed an interest in equipment that meets the new energy efficiency specification at an affordable price. The Energy Department is evaluating potential demonstration sites for high-performing products that meet the RTU Challenge and is also developing analytical tools that enable businesses to more accurately estimate the energy and cost savings of using high-performance RTUs in their facilities. The specification for the RTU Challenge, aimed at spurring the market introduction of cost-effective, high-performance commercial RTU air conditioners, was developed by DOE technical experts and informed by industry partners. See the Energy Department’s Progress Alert and the CBEA webpage.
The Energy Department announced on May 30 eight finalists for the first-annual Better Buildings Federal Award. This competition recognizes the federal government’s highest-performing buildings and challenges agencies to achieve the greatest reduction in annual energy intensity, the amount of energy consumed per square foot. The federal building that achieves the greatest energy savings over a one-year competition period wins.
The finalists, which represent a range of building types, sizes, and agency functions, were selected based upon past and current sustainability efforts that demonstrate leadership and promote ongoing energy savings. They include buildings in Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, New Mexico, Texas, and West Virginia. When selecting finalists, the Department’s Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) considered energy efficiency measures deployed in the facility, best practices in energy management and building operations undertaken by facility personnel, and institutional change programs and other tools that were used to encourage broad sustainability efforts within the facility. From now until September 30, 2012, the selected finalists will compete in a head-to-head competition to achieve the greatest reduction in Fiscal Year 2012 energy intensity. See the Energy Department Progress Alert and the Better Buildings Federal Award webpage.
The clean energy economy is here, and creating jobs all across the country. In fact, some may even be in your neighborhood.
Recently, Environmental Entrepreneurs reported 137 clean energy job announcements that could create 46,000 jobs in 42 states. From manufacturing plants, to power generation projects, to energy efficient retrofits, more than 126 companies, cities, and organizations are creating jobs across this great land. From Atlanta to Michigan to Arizona, workers are finding jobs in the clean energy field.
In Atlanta a new streetcar will increase mobility for citizens traveling between downtown and the greater Atlanta region. This project will create almost 1,000 construction jobs alone. In Madison County, Indiana, just outside Indianapolis, a 200-megawatt wind farm is being built. Besides generating electricity for up to 60,000 homes, more than 300 workers have been hired to help build the farm. Read the complete story on the Energy Blog.
What do you want to know about solar energy? Now is your opportunity to ask.
This Friday, June 8, at 2 p.m. EDT we are hosting a live Solar Twitter Chat. The discussion will be lead by R. Ramesh—our resident solar expert and director of the Energy Department’s SunShot Initiative. To participate, send your questions and comments using #askEnergy.
Whether you want to know the pros and cons of cadmium telluride or how solar panels work—no question is too basic or complex. And, if you have an idea for, let’s say, making solar energy more accessible to American families and businesses—share it with us during the discussion. To learn more, including ways to participate using email or Facebook, see the Energy Blog.
Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources (CCRES)