Natural astaxanthin – molecule properties
Astaxanthin (3,3’-dihydroxy-β-β-carotene-4,4’-dione) is a xanthophyll carotenoid, commonly found in marine environments where it gives an orange-pink coloration to several sea-species.
CCRES Haematococcus pluvialis
CCRES Haematococcus pluvialis
Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources
News and Events September 27, 2012
Caithness Energy announced on September 22 that its Shepherds Flat Wind Farm in Oregon—one of the largest in the world—is now operational and generating up to 845 megawatts of electricity. The Energy Department supported the project with a $1.3 billion partial loan guarantee through the Recovery Act in 2010. The company said the project in the northeastern part of the state will generate enough electricity to power 235,000 U.S. homes.
Sponsored by Caithness and General Electric (GE) Energy Financial Services, the project consists of 338 GE 2.5xl turbines, which are being deployed for the first time in North America. The project’s output is contracted through 20-year power purchase agreements with Southern California Edison. The project will eliminate nearly1,216,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year, an amount equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions from more than 212,000 passenger vehicles. See the Caithness press release and the October 13, 2010 edition of the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy newsletter.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on September 20 the latest in a series of funding steps to modernize and improve the efficiency of rural electric generation and transmission systems. The agency will offer loan guarantees to support nearly $10 million in smart grid technologies.
One of the loan recipients is Nobles Cooperative Electric, which serves counties in southwestern Minnesota and northwestern Iowa. Their loan includes $850,000 in smart grid projects. The Gundy Electric Cooperative, Inc., which serves customers in Iowa and Missouri, has also been selected for a loan guarantee that includes over $700,000 in smart grid projects. Earlier this month, the USDA announced it had met its goal to finance $250 million in smart grid technologies in fiscal year 2012. See the USDA press release.
In 2009, the Energy Department released the first Smart Grid System Report, which examined smart grid deployment nationwide. The report noted that smart grids have the potential to dramatically change how we experience electricity in the country. See the July 22, 2009 edition of the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Network News newsletter.
New York announced on September 17 the launch of a $30 million initiative to accelerate the commercialization of emerging, cutting-edge energy efficiency technologies. The Energy Efficiency Market Acceleration Program (EE-MAP) is being implemented by the New York Power Authority (NYPA). The new initiative will fund research, market development activities, and demonstration projects to help leverage investments and promote business development opportunities for emerging energy efficiency technologies.
The program will focus on accelerating the market development of energy efficiency technologies by speeding their deployment and training engineers, contractors, and maintenance service providers in designing and installing energy efficiency products, among other efforts. To support the initiative, NYPA has teamed with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and the Electric Power Research Institute, a nonprofit collaborative research organization, to catalog state-of-the-art energy efficiency products and services, identify commercial trends, and screen and track emerging technologies. See the New York press release.
In the third edition of DOE’s “Clean Energy in Our Community” video series, Allegheny College shows us that size doesn’t matter. Even with only 2,100 undergraduate students, Allegheny is successfully incorporating sustainability into its culture, operations, and curriculum—helping to grow the local green energy economy both on and off its Meadville, Pennsylvania, campus.
By working with students, faculty, staff, and local partners, the campus has created a composting facility that processes between 800-900 pounds of food, compostable paper, and plastic each day. The result is a soil-like, nutrient-rich material that helps to replenish the campus’s lawns, gardens, and flowerbeds without using chemical fertilizers.
The campus is well on its way to achieve its goal of climate neutrality by 2020. Earlier this year, Allegheny committed to purchasing 100% of its electricity from wind generated sources, a change that immediately eliminated over 50% of the institution’s carbon footprint. Through investments in energy audits and campus-wide energy retrofits, the campus is using Energy Star appliances and EPEAT certified computers to increase energy efficiency. In addition, all new construction on campus buildings will be LEED certified Silver, and historic buildings are in the process of becoming LEED certified. For the complete story, see the Energy Blog.
Recently, we announced the launch of the SunShot Prize—a new competition aimed at making it faster, easier, and cheaper to install rooftop solar energy systems. Participating teams must demonstrate that solar energy is an affordable solution for American families and businesses. To learn more about the competition, we caught up with Minh Le, Acting Solar Program Manager at the Energy Department. In the Q&A exchange below, Le shares important details about the impetus driving this innovative competition.
Why did the Department launch the SunShot Prize?
The global clean energy race is moving forward at lightning speed, and it’s time for the United States to regain its competitive edge. The SunShot Prize is meant to inspire organizations across the nation to dramatically reduce the costs of going solar. As part of the SunShot Initiative’s larger effort to make solar cost-competitive by 2020, this new program takes aim at soft costs, which are essentially what we think of as “the price to plug in.” For the complete story, see the Energy Blog.
Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources (CCRES)
Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources
News and Events September 21, 2012
As part of the Energy Department’s SunShot Initiative, the Department on September 12 announced the start of a new competition to make it faster, easier, and cheaper to install rooftop solar energy systems. The SunShot Prize makes a total of $10 million in cash awards available to the first three teams that consistently demonstrate that the non-hardware costs, or price to plug in, can be as low as $1 per watt for small-scale photovoltaic (PV) systems installed on American homes and businesses. This target represents a decrease in the “soft costs” of solar energy systems—including permitting, licensing, connecting to the grid, and other non-hardware costs—by more than 65%. The winning teams will demonstrate that solar energy is an affordable solution for families and businesses in the United States.
The SunShot Prize is meant to inspire innovative, sustainable, and verifiable business practices that reduce soft costs to $1/W. Achieving this target will bring the SunShot goal of $0.60/W for residential system soft costs within reach by the end of the decade. During Phase I of the competition, winning teams will successfully deploy 5,000 small-scale (2–15 kilowatt) rooftop PV systems with non-hardware costs averaging $1/W. Phase II, which is intended to assess the business sustainability of the winning teams, calls for the installation of an additional 1,000 qualifying systems.
The competition will run through 2015.The first-place winner will receive $7 million, second place will receive $2 million, and third place will receive $1 million for successfully achieving the competition’s goals. In addition to the cash award, the first-place team will officially become “The Winner of America’s Most Affordable Rooftop Solar” prize. The SunShot Initiative is a collaborative national effort to make solar energy cost-competitive with other forms of energy by the end of the decade. See the Energy Department press release and SunShot Prize website.
The first grid-connected tidal power project in the United States project is now delivering electricity to the utility grid from an underwater power system in Cobscook Bay, Maine. Bangor Hydro Electric Company verified on September 13 that electricity generated by an underwater turbine generator is flowing to their power grid from Ocean Renewable Power Company’s (ORPC) Cobscook Bay Tidal Energy Project. The project is funded by a $10 million investment from the Energy Department, as well as the Maine Technology Institute and private investors.
The device, called a TidGen, is designed to operate in shallow tidal or deep river sites at depths of 50 to 100 feet , and has a peak output of 180 kilowatts. That amount is enough electricity to power 25 to 30 homes annually. In April, the Maine Public Utilities Commission approved a 20-year power purchase agreement for ORPC’s Maine Tidal Energy Project (which includes the Cobscook Bay Project) with three utilities: Central Maine Power, Bangor Hydro Electric, and Maine Public Service. Two additional TidGen devices will be installed at ORPC’s Cobscook Bay Project site in the fall of 2013, and together, the three-device power system will generate enough energy to power 75 to 100 homes. The devices connect directly to an onshore substation through a single underwater transmission line. See the ORPC press release Web page, the May 9 edition of EERE Network News, and the Energy Department Water Power Program website.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on September 14 set the amount of bio-diesel products required to be included in diesel fuel markets in 2013 at 1.28 billion gallons. Biobased diesel products are advanced bio-fuels that are derived from sources such as vegetable oils and wastes oils from renewable sources.
The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 established the second phase of the Renewable Fuel Standards program that specifies a one billion-gallon minimum volume requirement for the biomass-based diesel category for 2012 and beyond. The law also calls on EPA to increase the volume requirements after consideration of environmental, market, and energy-related factors. See the EPA press release and the Renewable Fuels Standard Web page.
The Solar Decathlon Europe 2012, a complementary competition to the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon, which challenges collegiate teams to design, build, and operatre solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive, began on September 14 in Madrid, Spain. Teams from 14 countries will participate in this year’s competition, coming from Brazil, China, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Spain, and the United Kingdom. In 2007, the Spanish Ministry of Housing signed an agreement to organize the event, and the first European gathering was in Madrid in 2010.
A combination of task completion, measurement, and jury scoring determined Solar Decathlon Europe’s first champion, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. The event ends on September 30. See the Solar Decathlon Europe website.
Walmart Stores Inc., Costco Wholesale, and Kohl’s Department Stores lead the top 20 U.S. companies in terms of on-site solar energy capacity, according to a report from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and the Vote Solar Initiative. Combined, the top 20 corporate solar users’ photovoltaic (PV) installations, which total at least 279 megawatts, generate an estimated $47.3 million worth of electricity each year. SEIA and Vote Solar released the findings on September 12.
The amount of solar installed by the top 20 solar-powered companies could power more than 46,500 average U.S. homes. Altogether, U.S. commercial solar installations could power more than 390,000 American homes. The companies analyzed for this report have deployed more than 700 individual PV systems on their facilities in at least 25 states and Puerto Rico. Rounding out the list, in order, are IKEA, Macy’s, McGraw-Hill, Johnson & Johnson, Staples, Inc., Campbell’s Soup, Walgreens, Bed Bath & Beyond, Toys ‘R’ Us, General Motors, FedEx, White Rose Foods, Dow Jones, Snyder’s of Hanover, ProLogis, Hartz Mountain Industries, and Crayola. See the SEIA press release and the full report Web page.
Even though the Olympics have ended, the Office of Environmental Management is still setting its sights on gold. The Energy Department and contractor CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company achieved the first Leadership for Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) “gold” certification for sustainable design at the 200 West Pump and Treat system. This new groundwater treatment plant at Hanford Site in southeast Washington state is setting a new standard for environmental sustainability.
Established by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and verified by the Green Building Certification Institute, LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification system that rates buildings on criteria such as energy savings, water efficiency, carbon dioxide emissions reduction, and indoor air quality. Gold Certification is the second highest benchmark set by the USGBC for high-performance green buildings.
The building’s efficient design is expected to result in an energy cost savings of more than 70% over the life of the facility. Electric energy savings should amount to 317,470 kilowatt hours per year. That’s enough energy to power nearly 28 American households, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates. For the complete story, see the Energy Blog.
Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources (CCRES)
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.
See answers to common questions about growing algae for biofuel production.
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?
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?
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?
Can algae-based fuels be used in developing countries to help them bypass fossil fuel dependence?
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 ).
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).
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.
News and Events July 06, 2012
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.
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 projects.
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 Future.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“…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.
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
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.
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.
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)