Category Archives: ALGAE

News and Events by CCRES September 13, 2012

Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources

News and Events September 13, 2012

Report: U.S. Solar Market Spiked in Second Quarter of 2012

Photo of solar panels on a rooftop.

The U.S. solar industry notched its second-best quarter in history with 742 megawatts of solar panels installed in the second quarter of 2012.
Credit: Social Security Administration
The U.S. solar industry notched its second-best quarter in history, installing 742 megawatts of solar power in the second quarter of 2012, according to a report from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). A record 477 MW of utility-scale installations helped the U.S. solar market expand by 45% over the first quarter of 2012, and 116% over the same period in 2011.
Eight states registered utility installations of 10 megawatts or greater: Arizona, California, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Texas. For the fourth consecutive quarter, the U.S. residential solar market grew incrementally, installing 98.2 MW. California, Arizona, and New Jersey led residential installations nationally.
According to the latest U.S. Solar Market Insight Report from the industry group and GTM Research, the United States now has 5,700 MW of installed solar capacity—enough to power more than 940,000 households. The report notes that the market will remain strong through the last two quarters of 2012, and forecasts a total of 3,200 MW of PV will be installed this year—up 71% over 2011 totals. See the SEIA press release.

USDA Has Reached Its $250 Million Smart Grid Funding Goal

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on September 7 announced that the department has reached its $250 million goal to finance smart grid technologies, and also announced nine rural electric cooperatives and utilities in 10 states that will receive more than $27 million in smart grid loans. The funding will go to making improvements to generation and transmission facilities and implementing smart grid technologies.
As part of President Obama’s Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future, the administration has outlined a framework for modernized electric systems that will benefit all Americans. This framework lays out a number of public and private initiatives, including a goal of $250 million in loans for smart-grid technology deployment as part of the USDA’s Rural Utility Service, which is focused on upgrading the electric grid in rural America. See the USDA press release.

California Efficiency Measures a Success

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) on September 4 reported that its groundbreaking energy efficiency programs resulted in savings of 5,900 gigawatt-hours of electricity in 2010-2011, enough to power more than 600,000 households for a year—the equivalent of two major power plants. In addition, the estimated savings cut carbon dioxide emissions by 3.8 million tons, the equivalent of removing more than 700,000 cars from the roads. The findings were based on utility-reported estimates.
In its 2010-2011 Energy Efficiency Annual Progress Evaluation Report, the CPUC summarized investor-owned utility implementation thus far in CPUC’s $3.1 billion 2010-2012 energy efficiency program. The report details progress toward meeting multiple statewide energy and climate policy objectives. It states that 89% of estimated energy savings reported through 2011 occurred in the commercial (55%) and residential (34%) sectors. The agricultural and industrial sectors combine to make up the remaining 12% of electric savings. Through 2011, the majority of estimated electric savings was achieved through lighting (59%), followed by process improvements (13%) and HVAC (10%). See the CPUC press release PDF.

EPA, Green Sports Alliance Partner for Conservation

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on September 6 it had signed an agreement with the Green Sports Alliance to work together to address environmental challenges faced by sports venues, organizations, and teams. The two organizations signed a Memorandum of Understanding that facilitates collaboration between them on issues such as energy conservation and sustainability.
The EPA has also agreed to share tools like the Energy Star Portfolio Manager, an energy management tool that allows building owners to track and assess energy and water consumption, in order to help Alliance members improve their environmental performance.
Green Sports Alliance is a nonprofit organization with a mission to help sports teams, venues, and leagues enhance their environmental performance. Alliance members represent more than 100 sports teams and venues from 13 different sports leagues. See the EPA press release and the EPA’s Partnership programs website.

CROATIAN CENTER of RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES (CCRES)

  special thanks to U.S. Department of Energy | USA.gov

The Bright Lights in New York Could Be Solar

The big city glow of New York could be coming from more than the bright lights on Broadway. The Big Apple also is increasingly aglow with solar power, particularly from rooftop photovoltaic (PV) solar.
Earlier this year, the city unveiled the New York City Solar Map, a collaborative tool which gives an estimate of solar photovoltaic potential for the one million buildings in the five city boroughs. The interactive map, hosted by The City University of New York (CUNY), is based on information from flights over the city by an airplane equipped with an aerial laser system. The device, known as Lidar for “light image detection and ranging,” gathered information on the shape, angle, size, and shade of rooftops along with the surface elevations of ground, buildings, and trees. Analysis of the data showed that the city has a solar potential of 5,800 megawatts peak output—more that 40% of the city’s electrical demand at peak times if all the rooftops were fully outfitted with solar. About two-thirds of the city’s structures are suitable to house solar panels.
CUNY’s work on the NYC Solar Map was funded through the Energy Department in 2007 and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. For the complete story, see the Energy Blog.

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News and Events by CCRES September 06, 2012

Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources

News and Events September 06, 2012

Energy Department Backs Collaborative Solar Energy Projects

The Energy Department on August 29 announced a $4.4 million investment in five new research projects to accelerate innovations that could lower the cost of photovoltaic (PV) and concentrating solar power technologies. These investments will enable teams from industry, universities, and the Energy Department’s national laboratories to collaborate at the department’s Scientific User Facilities, a national network of unique facilities that provide over 10,000 scientists and engineers each year with open access to some of the best instruments and tools in the world, including x-ray sources, accelerators, supercomputers, and nanoscale research centers.
The five research projects selected fall under two levels: establishing Scientific User Facility research partnerships and developing a new Scientific User Facility instrument. Under the first level, two projects have been awarded a total of $900,000 to establish research partnerships and carry out research using existing tools. Based in Berkeley, California, PLANT PV will partner with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Molecular Foundry to develop 3D mapping tools for higher performing thin film solar material. And the University of Colorado will use tools at Oak Ridge National Laboratory to research high-temperature inexpensive materials for concentrating solar power technologies.
Also, three projects totaling a $2.6 million investment have been selected to establish full research programs at a Scientific User Facility. These programs will result in new tool development, expanding the capability of each facility to conduct advanced solar energy research. Researchers from Sandia National Laboratories will partner with the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies in New Mexico to improve the efficiency of thin film PV materials, while Arizona State University will use x-ray technologies at Argonne National Laboratory to address solar cell material performance. Additionally, Stanford University will partner with SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory to research inexpensive ways to print solar cells. See the Energy Department press release and the complete list of projects PDF.

Administration Finalizes Higher Fuel Efficiency Standards

The Obama Administration on August 28 finalized standards that will increase fuel economy to the equivalent of 54.5 miles per gallon (mpg) for cars and light-duty trucks by model year 2025. When combined with previous standards set by this administration, this action will nearly double the fuel efficiency of those vehicles compared to new vehicles currently on the road. The move to improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions will save consumers more than $1.7 trillion at the gas pump and reduce U.S. oil consumption by 12 billion barrels.
The program also includes targeted incentives to encourage early adoption and introduction of advanced technologies to dramatically improve vehicle performance. The program includes incentives for electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and fuel cells vehicles, as well as incentives for hybrid and other technologies that can improve the fuel economy of large pickups. The new standards issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) build on the success of the administration’s standards for cars and light trucks for model years 2011-2016. Those standards, which raised average fuel efficiency by 2016 to the equivalent of 35.5 mpg, are already saving families money at the pump.
Achieving the new fuel efficiency standards will encourage innovation and investment in advanced technologies that increase our economic competitiveness and support high-quality domestic jobs in the auto industry. The final standards were developed by DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the EPA, following extensive engagement with automakers, the United Auto Workers, consumer groups, environmental and energy experts, states, and the public. Last year, 13 major automakers, which together account for more than 90% of all vehicles sold in the United States, announced their support for the new standards. See the White House press release and the NHTSA CAFE fuel standards website.

Executive Order Promotes Industrial Energy Efficiency

President Obama on August 30 signed an Executive Order to facilitate investments in industrial energy efficiency that will strengthen U.S. manufacturing and help create jobs. These efforts to boost industrial energy efficiency, including combined heat and power systems, can save manufacturers as much as $100 billion in energy costs over the next decade. Such efficiency measures will reduce energy consumption and harmful emissions.
While manufacturing facilities have become more energy efficient over time, there is an opportunity to accelerate and expand on this trend with investments that reduce energy use through more efficient manufacturing technologies and processes, including expanding use of efficient, on-site heat and power generation, known as combined heat and power. The order also establishes a new national goal of 40 gigawatts of new combined heat and power capacity by 2020, a 50% increase from today.
This Executive Order builds on steps the administration has taken to scale up private sector investments in energy efficiency in our homes, buildings, and factories with efforts like the Better Buildings Initiative and investments upgrading homes around the United States.
In addition, the Executive Order directs the EPA and the Departments of Energy, Commerce, and Agriculture to coordinate actions at the federal level while providing policy and technical assistance to states to promote investments in industrial energy efficiency. The Executive Order also directs agencies to foster a national dialogue through ongoing regional workshops to encourage the adoption of best practice policies and investment models. See the White House press release.

Federal Electronics Stewardship Efforts Honored

The Energy Department received one-third of the 33 Federal Electronics Challenge Awards announced on August 13 by the EPA and the Office of the Federal Environmental Executive. Federal facilities from 10 different federal agencies were honored for activities that fostered greenhouse gas emissions reductions equivalent to taking 6,000 passenger cars off the road for a year. The 2012 winners completed a variety of electronics stewardship activities in fiscal year 2011, including purchasing more than 105,000 green electronics and enabling power saving sleep features on more than 97% of their computers and monitors.
Three of the ten Platinum Awards, the highest level, went to Energy Department facilities: the Bonneville Power Administration, Portland, Oregon; the East Tennessee Technology Park, Oak Ridge, Tennessee; and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, Colorado. Two of the five Gold Awards, the second-place honors, went to Energy Department facilities: the National Nuclear Security Administration, Y-12 National Security Complex, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and the department’s Richland Operations Office, Richland, Washington. Six of the 18 total winners in the Silver and Bronze award categories were also from the Energy Department. See the EPA press release and the complete list of winners.

CROATIAN CENTER of RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES (CCRES)

  special thanks to U.S. Department of Energy | USA.gov

Shedding Light on the Solar Decathlon 2013 Teams

While many students are getting ready for school, teams of university and college students around the globe have been hard at work this summer creating solar-powered houses as part of the Energy Department’s 6th biennial Solar Decathlon.
In January, we announced the 20 teams for the 2013 competition. More than six months later, the teams are in full swing designing and building energy-efficient solar houses that will compete in 10 contests to gauge their energy consumption, affordability, and ease of living. For most contests, we will have to wait for the judging in October 2013 to learn how teams are doing. But the Communications Contest provides an inside look at how teams are progressing. For the complete story, see the Energy Blog.

Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources (CCRES)

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Free radicals

Free radicals

In the body, free radicals are produced when oxygen combines with complex
metabolic molecules. Free radicals are highly unstable molecules ready to
react with anything they can. When they react, the result is called “oxidation.”
Once the oxidation process begins, it can produce a chain reaction that generates
more free radicals.

 
Oxidation in the human body is the same thing that happens to metal when
it rusts. The rusting or oxidation can destroy a strong piece of metal in just a few
years. By painting the metal or putting on a rust-inhibiting product you can prevent
rusting. This is the same thing that antioxidants are doing to the “rusting”
in our bodies—preventing oxidation and keeping them strong. Like the rust
inhibiting product which prevents the metal’s cells from oxidizing and degrading,
antioxidants prevent our body’s cells from oxidizing and degrading. Fortunately
for our bodies (and our health), antioxidants are capable of joining with oxidizing
free radicals, thus rendering them harmless.
There is a very easy and interesting experiment you can do in your home
that shows what oxidation is all about: Take an apple and cut it in half. Now take
a lemon and cut it in half and drip the lemon juice on one half of the apple. Drip
it all over the cut side of the apple, and leave the other apple half as is with no
lemon juice. Keep the two halves at room temperature for an hour or two, then
look at both halves: The half with the lemon juice will look pretty much the same
as it did when it was cut; the half without the lemon juice will probably be turning
brown and “going bad.” If you leave them out longer, the difference will
become more pronounced. This is oxidation and antioxidant protection happening
before your eyes. The unprotected half is oxidizing quickly. The half with
lemon juice is oxidizing very slowly or not at all because of the antioxidants present
in the lemon juice. Lemons have Vitamin C and citrus bioflavonoids.
CCRES ALGAE PROJECT 
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Invest in Milking Microbes

From Bacteria to Biofuel,

Invest in Milking Microbes

What if we could take a soil bacteria and tinker with its genes to create a biofuel much in the same way that a cow produces milk? Well, we can, or at least a team of scientists has figured out how to do it, and the next step is figuring out how to make it happen on a commercial scale.

The common soil bacterium Raistonia eutropha produces complex carbon compounds when stressed, and according to MIT, its scientists have engineered the bacterium’s genes to produce isobutanol, which can be substituted for or blended with gasoline.

When the bacterium is stressed it stops growing and uses the energy to produce fuel, expelling the fuel rather than storing it up, which means that it scientists can figure out how to do this on a commercial scale it would be less costly than other ways of producing biofuel. Why? Because typically a microorganism producing biofuel is destroyed in the extraction process. This genetically tweaked bacterium simply expels and continues to produce.
Earlier this month, MIT scientist Christopher Brigham detailed the findings, along with his co-author, in the Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology journal. The team is led by professor of biology Anthony Sinskey.
According to Brigham, the bacterium is enters into a carbon-storage mode when its source of essential nutrients (nitrate or phosphate) is restricted. “What it does is take whatever carbon is available, and stores it in the form of a polymer, which is similar in its properties to a lot of petroleum-based plastics.”

So now that the MIT team has succeeded in tinkering with the bacterium’s genes enough to get it to convert carbon into isobutanol, the next step is to figure out how to optimize the process to increase the rate of production and design bioreactors to scale the process to industrial levels.
It’s all about transport, Brigham notes in the journal, and the most significant aspect of this discovery is that “we didn’t have to add a transport system to get [the fuel] out of the cell.”
Another key element of success is the production of isobutanol, as compared with other biofuels. The benefit of isobutanol is that it can be used in cars without modifications, as a direct substitute for gasoline, and in fact, according to scientists, has already been used in race cars.

What are the chances of bringing production to industrial levels? In theory, pretty good. In a press release, MIT quotes Mark Silby, assistant professor of biology at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, as saying, “This approach has several potential advantages over the production of ethanol from corn. Bacterial systems are scalable, in theory allowing production of large amounts of biofuel in a factory-like environment.”
Furthermore, Silby adds, “This system in particular has the potential to derive carbon from waste products or carbon dioxide, and thus is not competing with the food supply.”

It’s a risky investment while the industrial-scale potential is still unknown, but sooner than later someone will figure out how to make this viable and then it will take the biofuels market by storm. The US Department of Energy has its money on success, as the research is being funded by its Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E). And we agree that while the risk is great, the potential is greater.

By. Oilprice.com Analysts

CCRES ALGAE PROJECT
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CCRES Algae Project Q&A

 

 CCRES ALGAE
CCRES Algae Project
Q&A

See answers to common questions about growing algae for biofuel production.

Algae’s potential
What makes algae a better alternative fuel feedstock than cellulosic feedstocks, such as switchgrass or miscanthus?
What transportation fuels can algae produce?
How much fuel can algae produce?
Where could this type of algae grow?
What can you do with material derived from algae production not used for fuel?

Economics
How much would a gallon of algae-based transportation fuel cost if it were available at a service station today?
What can accelerate the commercial availability of algae biofuel?

Environment
How will algae-based transportation fuels impact greenhouse gas emissions?
Is the process capable of being replicated at the local level to increase energy efficiency and promote low-energy overhead?

Security
Can algae-based fuels be used in developing countries to help them bypass fossil fuel dependence?

CCRES ALGAE
Q: What makes algae a better alternative fuel feedstock than cellulosic feedstocks, such as switchgrass or miscanthus?

A: Large-scale production of resource-intensive plants, like switchgrass or miscanthus, requires a substantial amount of fertile land, fresh water, and petroleum-based fertilizer to grow. The fuel derived is ethanol, a lower-energy fuel not compatible with the infrastructure now used to transport, refine, and deliver liquid fuels, like gasoline and diesel.

Conversely, algae can produce hydrocarbons capable of being converted directly into actual gasoline or diesel fuel, which can be transported and delivered to market using the existing refinery infrastructure.

Q: What transportation fuels can algae produce?
A: Algae produce a variety of fuel and fuel precursor molecules, including triglycerides and fatty acids that can be converted to biodiesel, as well as lipids and isoprenoids that can be directly converted to actual gasoline and traditional diesel fuel. Algae can also be used to produce hydrogen or biomass, which can then be digested into methane.

Q: How much fuel can algae produce?

A: The United States consumes 140 billion gallons per year of liquid fuel. Algae can produce 3,000 gallons of liquid fuel per acre in a year, so it would take 45 million acres of algae to provide 100% of our liquid fuel requirements.

For comparison, in 2008 the United States had 90 million acres of corn and 67 million acres of soybeans in production. So growing 45 million acres of algae, while challenging, is certainly possible.

Q: Where could this type of algae grow?

A: Algae perform best under consistent warm temperatures between 20 and 30 degrees. Climates with plenty of sunshine offer optimal conditions. Ideal Croatian locations include many of the southern and southwestern areas, such as Dalmatia,(including Dalmatian hinterland ).

CCRES ALGAE
Q: What can you do with material derived from algae production not used for fuel?

A: Production of 140 billion gallons of fuel from algae would also yield about 1 trillion pounds of protein. Since algae-produced protein is very high quality, this protein could be used to feed livestock, chicken, or fish. Presently, all livestock in this country consume about 770 billion pounds of protein per year.

Q: How much would a gallon of algae-based transportation fuel cost if it were available at a service station today?

A: Today, the cost would be relatively expensive. Additional investment in research is needed to further refine and enhance the algae strains that generate such fuels. Also, more infrastructure needs to be developed to achieve the necessary economies of scale that will come with large-scale commercial production. Once overall efficiency increases, the cost of producing a gallon of gasoline from algae will dramatically reduce.

Q: What can accelerate the commercial availability of algae biofuel?

A: As viable and potentially transformational as algae-based transportation fuels have already proven, we need a much better knowledge base on algae at the microbial level. We also need to build on this platform to develop the tools and train the next generation of scientists that will help usher in the age of accessible, affordable, and sustainable fuels made from algae. That is a central component of the Croatian Center for Algae Biofuels (CCRES Algae Project).

CCRES ALGAE
Q: How will algae-based transportation fuels impact greenhouse gas emissions?

A: Production of alternative transportation fuels from algae will help reduce the amount of CO2 in the environment. Algae provide a carbon-neutral fuel because they consume more CO2 than is ultimately released into the atmosphere when algae-based fuel burns. The amount of carbon removed from the environment will depend on the number of algae farms built and the efficiency with which algae can be modified to convert CO2 to fuel products. Eventually, algae farms will likely be located adjacent to CO2 producing facilities, like power plants, resulting in potentially significant CO2 sequestration benefits.

Q: Is the process capable of being replicated at the local level to increase energy efficiency and promote low-energy overhead?

A: Absolutely. There are huge advantages to locating algae farms near urban centers. The algae consume industrial waste and contaminants, which are usually found in higher concentrations near cities. A perfect location is near a power plant, where the algae can consume flue gas and other waste, or near a wastewater treatment plant where the algae could consume significant amounts of nitrates and phosphates from the waste stream. This could result in cleaner effluent discharge, and perhaps eventually create “new” sources of non-potable water for industrial or agricultural use.

Q: Could algae-based fuels be used in developing countries to help them bypass fossil fuel dependence?

A: Algae-based fuels (and the protein byproducts derived from their production) definitely have the potential to positively impact developing countries. The requirements for farming algae are fairly straightforward and can be done almost anywhere in the world with an adequate supply of sunshine. In Africa, for example, millions of algae acres could be farmed in its less-populated regions, resulting in a reduced dependence on foreign oil and a reliable and sustainable energy supply.

 
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News and Events by CCRES July 06, 2012

Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources

News and Events July 06, 2012

Energy Department Announces $102 Million for Small Business Research

The Energy Department announced on June 27 that it will award new funding to 104 small businesses nationwide. The grants, totaling more than $102 million, will support businesses in 26 states, helping companies to develop promising technologies with a strong potential for commercialization and job creation.
Funded through the Energy Department’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, the selections are for Phase II work. In Phase II, companies will build on the conceptual work undertaken in Phase I and pursue the next steps in bringing the technologies to market. The Phase II awards are up to $1 million for work over two years. The awards support developing technologies in areas ranging from large wind turbine towers to more energy-efficient data centers. For example, the Xunlight 26 Solar company of Toledo, Ohio, will work on transparent, flexible cadmium telluride modules for photovoltaics. See the DOE press release, the list of awards, and the SBIR and STTR website.

 

Energy Department Awards $14 Million for Energy Efficiency in 22 States

The Energy Department announced on June 27 that its State Energy Program has awarded $14 million to state-led energy efficiency projects in 22 states. The funds will allow the government agencies to conduct energy efficiency upgrades to public facilities and develop local policies and programs to help reduce energy waste and save taxpayer money. These investments are part of the Energy Department’s strategy to create jobs, boost domestic manufacturing in energy-saving technologies, and help Americans save money.
The state-led projects will conduct whole-building energy efficiency upgrades across hundreds of public buildings, saving millions of dollars for state and local governments and creating new local jobs for energy auditors, architects, engineers and construction workers. The states include Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. The projects fall under two broad categories, including advancing energy efficiency in public buildings and deploying fee-based self-funded public facilities energy retrofit programs. In addtion, two states will be taking energy efficiency policy action to encourage cost-effective energy efficiency investments and establish or increase statewide energy savings goals by 2015. See the DOE press release and the complete list of projectsPDF.

 

Obama Administration Announces Investments in Biofuels

Photo of a series of buildings.

The Energy Department is boosting support for biofuels. This type of pilot biorefinery makes cellulosic ethanol from corn cobs.
Credit: POET
The Energy Department, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the U.S. Navy on July 2 announced $30 million in federal funding to match private investments in commercial-scale advanced drop-in biofuels. Drop-in biofuels are fuels that can serve as direct replacements or supplements to existing gasoline, diesel, and jet fuels, without any changes to existing fuel distribution networks or engines—and have the potential to significantly reduce U.S. reliance on oil imports. DOE is also offering a total of $32 million in new investments for earlier-stage research that will continue to drive technological breakthroughs and additional cost reductions in the industry.
In his Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future released in March 2011, President Obama set a goal of reducing oil imports by one-third by 2025, increasing energy efficiency, and speeding development of biofuels and other alternatives. As part of that effort, the blueprint directed the DOE, the Navy, and the USDA to collaborate to support commercialization of drop-in biofuel substitutes for diesel and jet fuel, which lead to the current Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA). This FOA has a two-phased approach, with government and industry sharing in the cost. In Phase 1, applicants will submit a design package and comprehensive business plan for a commercial-scale biorefinery, identify and secure project sites, and take additional required steps spelled out in the announcement. Awardees selected to continue into Phase 2 will submit additional information for the construction or retrofit of a biorefinery. Applications are due by August 13, 2012. See the funding opportunity announcement, and the Blueprint for a Secure Energy FuturePDF.
In addition, DOE offered new investments in earlier-stage biofuels research that complement the commercial-scale efforts announced by the Navy and USDA. These early-stage, pre-commercial investments are the latest steps in the Obama Administration’s efforts to advance biofuels technologies to continue to lower costs, improve performance, and identify new effective, non-food feedstocks and processing technologies.
The funding announced by DOE includes $20 million to support innovative pilot-scale and demonstration-scale biorefineries that could produce renewable biofuels that meet military specifications for jet fuel and shipboard diesel using a variety of non-food biomass feedstocks, waste-based materials, and algae. These projects may support new plant construction, retrofits on existing U.S. biorefineries, or operations at plants ready to begin production at the pilot- or pre-commercial scale. This investment will also help federal and local governments, private developers, and industry collect accurate data on the cost of producing fuels made from biomass and waste feedstocks. See the full funding solicitation. Applications are due August 13, 2012.
Also, DOE announced $12 million to support up to eight projects focused on researching ways to develop biobased transportation fuels and products using synthetic biological processing. Synthetic biological processing offers an innovative technique to enable efficient, cost-saving conversion of non-food biomass to biofuels. These projects will develop novel biological systems that can enhance the breakdown of raw biomass feedstocks and assist in converting feedstocks into transportation fuels.
The projects—which will be led by small businesses, universities, national laboratories, and industry—will seek to overcome technical and scientific barriers to cost-competitive advanced biofuels and bioproducts. Applications are due July 10, 2012. See the full funding opportunity announcement, and the DOE press release.

 

Administration Makes Major Advances in Energy Efficiency Access

The Obama Administration announced on June 26 that 36 new members have joined the Better Buildings Challenge. These new commitments, from four states—Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, and North Carolina—local governments, and school districts, total nearly 300 million square feet in job-creating building energy upgrades, which is equivalent to more than 130 Empire State Buildings. In addition, new public tax guidance issued at the same time by the U.S. Department of the Treasury will make it easier for state and local governments to access more than $2 billion in existing low-cost financing to fund energy efficiency and renewable energy projects through qualified energy conservation bonds. These bonds (QECBs) provide state and local governments with access to low-cost financing to fund energy efficiency and renewable energy programs.
The challenge is part of the Better Buildings Initiative launched in February 2011 to support job creation by catalyzing private sector investment in commercial and industrial building energy upgrades. The initiative is spearheaded by former President Clinton and the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness with the goal of making U.S. buildings 20% more efficient over the next decade, which will help reduce U.S. energy costs by nearly $40 billion. Last year, commercial buildings consumed roughly 20% of all the energy used by the U.S. economy. See the Energy Department press release and the Better Buildings Challenge website.

 

Interior Reports Two Major Wind Energy Initiatives Finish Review

The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) announced on July 2 that two major wind energy initiatives have completed important environmental reviews in three states—Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Wyoming—clearing the way for public comment and final review.
DOI announced the release of final environmental impact statements for a proposed wind power complex in Wyoming that would generate up to 3,000 megawatts of power, making it the largest wind farm facility in the United States and one of the largest in the world. The proposed Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Farm would include up to 1,000 turbines and generate enough power for as many as 1 million homes. The project would be built on public, private, and state land in Carbon County, Wyoming. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is reviewing the proposed wind project, as well as a proposed amendment to the Rawlins Resource Management Plan to accommodate the facility.
Also, DOI announced the publication of an environmental assessment for commercial wind leases and site assessment activities on the Outer Continental Shelf offshore of Rhode Island and Massachusetts. This step positions DOI to offer the area as one of the nation’s first offshore competitive lease sales before the end of the year. The environmental assessment for the Rhode Island/Massachusetts Wind Energy Area will be used by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to inform future leasing decisions as part of the Obama Administration’s “Smart from the Start” offshore wind energy initiative. The Wind Energy Area comprises approximately 164,750 acres within the area of mutual interest identified by the two states. BOEM leadership will host public information sessions on July 16 and 17 to further engage stakeholders and consider public comments on the environmental assessment. See the DOI press release.

CROATIAN CENTER of RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES (CCRES)

  special thanks to U.S. Department of Energy | USA.gov

A Material Change: Bringing Lithium Production Back to America

Between 1980 and 2009, the global demand for lithium has tripled. This metal is a key material in a number of growing industries, including advanced vehicle batteries and consumer electronics. But more specifically, lithium-ion batteries are a vital component in electric vehicles and other rechargeable batteries for consumer electronics and are used to produce the plug-in electric vehicles on the market today. These batteries also have a major impact on energy storage infrastructure and are helping integrate renewable energy sources into the electricity grid.
After leading the world in lithium production in the early 1990s, America now imports the majority of its lithium materials and compounds from South America.
The Energy Department is hoping to bring lithium production leadership back to the United States with a $28.4 million federal investment in the communities of Silver Peak, Nevada, and Kings Mountain, North Carolina. Read the complete story in the Energy Blog.

Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources (CCRES)

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$62M to Biofuels Industry

 

CROATIAN CENTER of RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES (CCRES)

  special thanks to U.S. Department of Energy | USA.gov

 
 
As part of President Obama’s Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future, he directed the Navy, USDA and DOE to collaborate to support commercialization of “drop-in” biofuel substitutes for diesel and jet fuel. Competitively priced drop-in biofuels, he said, will help improve America’s energy security, meeting the fuel needs of U.S. armed forces, as well as the commercial aviation and shipping sectors. The recent announcement of an available $30 million in funding promotes speeding the development of biofuels for military and commercial transportation. The Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) is available.
 
 
 
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Navy and Department of Energy are announcing $30 million in federal funding to match private investments in commercial-scale advanced drop-in biofuels. The Energy Department is also announcing a total of $32 million in new investments for earlier stage research that will continue to drive technological breakthroughs and additional cost reductions in the industry.
This funding opportunity is made possible through the Defense Production Act (DPA), an authority that dates back to 1950 and has been used to boost industries such as steel, aluminum, titanium, semiconductors, beryllium, and radiation-hardened electronics.

    “…through this DPA effort the nation will be able to harvest an aviation biofuels industry to satisfy the world’s needs, not just our U.S. military.” — USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack

The new funding comprises a two-phased approach, with government and industry sharing in the cost. In Phase 1, applicants will submit a design package and comprehensive business plan for a commercial-scale biorefinery, identify and secure project sites and take additional required steps spelled out in the announcement. Awardees selected to continue into Phase 2 will submit additional information for the construction or retrofit of a biorefinery.

Agencies participating in this initiative will make additional funding requests to Congress to support the initiative, including President Obama’s FY 2013 budget request of $110 million.

“This is an important time for the biofuels industry to step up and show the Department of the Navy how they have developed biofuels that are certified and certifiable for military use,” said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The ability for U.S. industry to make, create and innovate has never been more important to our national and energy security. I know that through this DPA effort the nation will be able to harvest an aviation biofuels industry to satisfy the world’s needs, not just our U.S. military.”

The Energy Department has also announced new investments in earlier stage biofuels research that complement the commercial-scale efforts announced by the Navy and USDA. Totaling $32 million, these early-stage, pre-commercial investments are the latest steps in the Obama Administration’s efforts to advance biofuels technologies to continue to bring down costs, improve performance, and identify new effective, non-food feedstocks and processing technologies.

“Advanced biofuels are an important part of President Obama’s all-of-the-above strategy to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil and support American industries and American jobs,” said Secretary Chu. “By pursuing new processes and technologies for producing next-generation biofuels, we are working to accelerate innovation in a critical and growing sector that will help to improve U.S. energy security and protect our air and water.”

The new funding announced by DOE includes $20 million to support innovative pilot-scale and demonstration-scale biorefineries that could produce renewable biofuels that meet military specifications for jet fuel and shipboard diesel using a variety of non-food biomass feedstocks, waste-based materials and algae. These projects may support new plant construction, retrofits on existing U.S. biorefineries or operation at plants ready to begin production at the pilot- or pre-commercial scale. This investment will also help federal and local governments, private developers and industry collect accurate data on the cost of producing fuels made from biomass and waste feedstocks. The full funding solicitation is available.

In addition, the Energy Department also announced $12 million to support up to eight projects focused on researching ways to develop bio-based transportation fuels and products using synthetic biological processing. Synthetic biological processing offers an innovative technique to enable efficient, cost-saving conversion of non-food biomass to biofuels. These projects will develop novel biological systems that can enhance the breakdown of raw biomass feedstocks and assist in converting feedstocks into transportation fuels.

The projects will be led by small businesses, universities, national laboratories and industry and will seek to overcome various technical and scientific barriers to cost-competitive advanced biofuels and bioproducts. The full funding opportunity announcement is available.

 

CROATIAN CENTER of RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES (CCRES)

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Renewable Energy Croatia 2012

 
 
 
Renewable energy resources, like wind and solar, are abundant, homegrown, and emissions-free and have the potential to help lead the nation toward energy independence.
Unfortunately, today’s infrastructure is unable to maximize the benefits of significantly more renewable resources. Wind and solar resources are connected to the grid as “one-off” solutions that are generally not integrated with other generation nor optimized as a reliable first-tier energy source.

Additionally, when renewable resources are producing electricity, the possibility of congestion on transmission lines can create a barrier to their full utilization. The variability of renewable sources can also cause challenges. And when renewables are offline—when the wind doesn’t blow or it’s a cloudy day— other power generation will be needed to fill in the gaps.

Without infrastructure expansion and changes to the way the power system is operated, it will be difficult for the Croatia to produce more than 20% of its electricity (the target percentage for many EU states) from variable renewable energy resources, such as wind and solar.

The Variability of Renewable Power

Wind and solar power are inherently variable, meaning sometimes the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine. Then what? Fortunately, smart grid technologies can help manage the unpredictability of wind and solar to help alleviate reliability and stability issues caused by power fluctuations. This will become increasingly important as more wind and solar power is connected to the grid.

Automated demand response technologies will act as a lever that utilities can pull to help lower demand in the event there is a gap in renewable power generation—for instance, if the wind stops blowing. To address such contingencies, a utility may incent consumers to opt into programs that allow certain devices (i.e., water heaters) to be temporarily switched off during peak times.
In the future, storage technologies could also help utilities manage the short-term imbalances in the supply and demand of energy, sometimes caused by the fluctuations of a lot of renewable energy. Batteries will store energy during times of excess wind energy production and discharge that energy via smart grid automation technologies when energy demand exceeds supply.

Grid Congestion
In some parts of the country, overburdened power lines make it difficult to move electricity from wind farms into the grid for consumption. There have been cases when wind farms are forced to shut down—even when the wind is blowing—because there is no capacity available in the lines for the electricity they create.

Without adequate transmission to transport power from “renewable” rich areas (like Dalmacija region) to densely populated areas, it is only cost effective to use renewable sources in certain areas of the country—at least for now.

While building new infrastructure would certainly help, smart grid technologies can also help utilities alleviate grid congestion and maximize the potential of our current infrastructure. Smart grid technologies can help provide real-time readings of the power line, enabling utilities to maximize flow through those lines and help alleviate congestion.

As smart grid technologies become more widespread, the electrical grid will be made more efficient, helping reduce issues of congestion. Sensors and controls will help intelligently reroute power to other lines when necessary, accommodating energy from renewable sources, so that power can be transported greater distances, exactly where it’s needed.
   
    

Distributed Generation
Traditionally, electricity has flowed one way, from a power station to a customer. However, as more energy is generated by alternative sources, power will be entering the network from multiple locations, including the distribution network (i.e., distributed generation). These sources are often cleaner or more efficient; for example, combined heat and power plants (CHP) are more than 75% efficient, compared to traditional generation, which is only 49% efficient on average.1

Unfortunately, the current grid was not designed with multi-directional power flow in mind. Two-way power flow, sophisticated controls, and grid automation technologies can help bring wind, solar and other alternative energy solutions safely into the distribution grid and move it where it’s needed, when it’s needed.

In some regions, individuals can contribute to energy production on the distribution grid by generating electricity at their home—for example, solar on rooftops. Where available, enhanced net-metering incents consumers to sell power back to the grid during peak pricing hours—so, consumers make money, and utilities are able to better manage peak demand. Whole neighborhoods could become solar or wind generation plants, introducing excess power back into the grid to meet demand.

 

Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources (CCRES)

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Capture the Carbon Dioxide

 Capture the Carbon Dioxide
 
In nature, photosynthesis uses the energy in sunlight to split water into carbon dioxide and hydrogen. A typical plant cell relies on a series of electron carriers, which create a photosynthetic circuit that allows plants to capture the carbon dioxide they need, and then convert it into the biomass that fuels cell growth. At the same time, plants produce hydrogen, a molecule that can be used in a variety of renewable and sustainable fuel technologies, but that is also expensive to produce in large quantities and currently involves non-renewable natural gas reformation.
 
A photosynthetic organism such as green algae tends to use solar energy to generate either fixed carbon or hydrogen—while this is fine for growth, it is not particularly efficient for making greater quantities of hydrogen. Facing this challenge, NREL researchers wondered if they could find ways to boost the hydrogen-making capacity of photosynthesis. They posed a key question: What controls the partitioning of electrons between these two competing metabolic pathways?
 
A team from NREL, along with colleagues from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Tel Aviv University, set out to answer this question. They hypothesized that they could engineer the process by “rewiring” algae’s catalytic circuits, or pathways. To do so, they would replace the normal hydrogen-producing enzyme, hydrogenase (H2ase), with a ferredoxin and hydrogenase fusion protein. They speculated that inserting this kind of a fusion protein into this reaction path could divert more electrons into hydrogen production and push the algae into making more hydrogen and fixing less carbon dioxide. If successful, this engineered photosynthetic circuit could potentially increase efficiencies and thus bring down the price of hydrogen. In its more than 30-year history of innovation, NREL has been a leader in working with green algae for hydrogen and biofuel production, as well as with finding ways to speed renewable fuels to market to help meet the nation’s clean energy goals. It is this expertise that encouraged MIT’s Iftach Yacoby to partner with NREL, which enabled the researchers to collaborate on technical innovations such as the CdTe-H2ase.
 
During NREL’s work with green algae, the lab’s own Senior Scientist Paul King and other researchers worked with hydrogenase enzymes as a key component of the photosynthetic hydrogen production equation. These biological catalysts can convert electrons and protons into hydrogen gas, or convert hydrogen into electrons and protons. For this work, the team chose to use in vitro tests under anaerobic conditions. They were able to demonstrate how the hydrogenase and other enzymes compete to regulate whether algae uses the solar energy it captures through photosynthesis to produce carbon compounds or hydrogen. As they studied these interactions, they were able to devise a procedure to engineer the proteins that compose electron transfer circuits. 
 
The first element of their strategy was based on their hypothesis that they could have more of the electrons go to hydrogen if they altered the composition to replace hydrogenase with a ferredoxin-hydrogenase fusion. In the anaerobic test tubes, the team confirmed that the photosynthetic circuit can switch from capturing carbon dioxide to producing hydrogen by substituting the fusion. The hydrogen production was carried out in the presence of the CO2 fixation enzyme ferredoxin:NADP-oxidoreductase (FNR). This process is a biological model for using solar power to convert water into hydrogen. The basis for this switch was modeled as two new Fd-hydrogenase circuits (boxes 1 and 2, Figure 2), and a reduced level of FNR activity modeled as a third circuit (box 3, Figure 2). 
 
King considered these results promising, because they suggest that fusion is an engineering strategy to improve hydrogen production efficiencies, and might be useful in resolving the biochemical mechanisms that control photosynthetic electron transport circuits and product levels from competing pathways. The next phase, already underway, is to introduce the fusion protein into green algae Chlamydomonas and determine if rewiring can take place to improve hydrogen-production efficiencies. Even though this is only one of a number of variables to consider, this strategy has already signaled an avenue to pursue in the drive to reduce the cost of hydrogen fuel and make it cost-competitive for industry.
 
 
A diagram showing a series of linked boxes with labels for biological compounds, explaining how photosynthetic electrons support carbon dioxide fixation and hydrogen production. Enlarge image

Photosynthetic electron transport pathways that support carbon dioxide fixation and hydrogen production. Light-activated PSII extracts electrons from water and transfers them, while parallel circuits couple Fd to either FNR for carbon dioxide fixation or hydrogenase production.
Credit: Paul King, NREL

A diagram showing another series of linked boxes with labels depicting the engineering of hydrogen-producing enzyme to create a hydrogen production circuit to increase hydrogen during photosynthesis. Enlarge image

Engineering of the hydrogen-producing enzyme to create an Fd-H2ase fusion changes the composition of the hydrogen production circuit to include both direct (box 1) and indirect (box 2) H2 production modes. The CO2 fixation circuit (box 3) remains open, but operates at a reduced level.
Credit: Paul King, NREL
 
 
CCRES special thanks to NREL

NREL is a national laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy, Office Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy operated by the Alliance for Substainable Energy, LLC.

CROATIAN CENTER of RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES ( CCRES)

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