Tag Archives: 2012

News and Events by CCRES September 27, 2012

Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources

News and Events September 27, 2012

One of World’s Largest Wind Farms Starts Up in Oregon

Photo of wind turbines in a flat landscape.

The Shepherds Flat wind farm, one of the largest in the world, is now operating in Oregon.
Credit: Energy Department
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.

USDA Announces $10 Million in Rural Smart Grid Funds

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 Brings Energy Efficient Technologies to Market

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.

CROATIAN CENTER of RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES (CCRES)

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

Clean Energy in Our Community: Allegheny College and Meadville, Pennsylvania

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.

5 Questions about the SunShot Prize for Minh Le

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)

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News and Events by CCRES September 21, 2012

Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources

News and Events September 21, 2012

Energy Department Launches SunShot Prize Competition

Photo of workers installing photovoltaic panels on a house roof.

The SunShot Prize aims to decrease in the soft costs associated with small-scale solar energy systems by more than 65%.
Credit: MREA
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 (W) 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.

First Ocean Energy Delivered to the U.S. Grid

Photo of a machine with rotating blades underwater.

ORPC’s TidGen power system, shown in this rendering, has begun delivering power to the grid from Cobscook Bay, Maine.
Credit: ORPC
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.

EPA Sets Biobased Diesel Volumes for 2013

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.

Solar Decathlon Europe 2012 is Underway

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.

Report Names Top 20 U.S. Corporate Solar Users

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.

CROATIAN CENTER of RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES (CCRES)

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

Environmental Management Introduces the First LEED Gold Industrial Facility

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)

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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.

Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources (CCRES)

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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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News and Events by CCRES August 30, 2012

Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources

News and Events August 30, 2012

Universities to Lead Energy Department-Funded CSP Projects

The Energy Department announced on August 28 new investments totaling $10 million for two university-led projects to advance innovative concentrating solar power (CSP) system technologies. The five-year projects are under the Department’s SunShot Initiative, a collaborative national effort to make solar energy cost competitive with other forms of energy by the end of the decade.
CSP technologies use mirrors to reflect and concentrate sunlight onto receivers that collect solar energy and convert it to heat that can be used to produce electricity. Heat transfer fluids are a key component of CSP systems that transfer heat from a receiver to the point where the heat is needed to drive a turbine. The investments will improve heat transfer fluids to increase efficiency and lower costs for CSP systems.
Two university teams were selected to develop new heat transfer fluids. The University of California–Los Angeles will lead a team with researchers from Yale University and the University of California–Berkeley to investigate liquid metals as potential heat transfer fluids with the ability to withstand higher temperatures. And the University of Arizona, the second awardee, is teaming with researchers from Arizona State University and Georgia Tech to develop and demonstrate new, molten salt-based fluids as possible alternatives to traditional heat transfer fluids.
The projects will focus on making dramatic improvements to fluids that gather thermal energy from the sun and transport it to the power block, where the energy is used to drive a turbine that generates electricity. Today’s state-of the-art heat transfer fluids are capable of operating at temperatures up to about 1,050 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures in excess of 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit are needed to reach efficiencies greater than 50%, which allow CSP plants to capture more energy from solar power. The selected projects are working to develop heat transfer fluids that can operate at temperatures up to 2,350 degrees Fahrenheit, while simultaneously maintaining high levels of performance. See the Energy Department press release.

Energy Department Announces University Appliance-Design Winners

The Energy Department on August 23 announced that a University of Maryland team has won the Department’s first Max Tech and Beyond Appliance Design Competition. The student challenge, which involved nine teams, aims to inspire students to pursue energy efficiency improvements in home and commercial appliances, helping to develop innovative ultra-efficient products.
The University of Maryland team chose to simplify the design of a standard wall-mounted air conditioner by separating the systems that remove humidity and provide cooling. After the students tested a fully functional prototype, they found that the design reduced energy use by 30% compared with typical wall-mounted air conditioners already on the market. Because the current largest consumer of electricity in most homes nationwide is the air conditioning system, this innovative design has the potential to substantially decrease residential energy use and save consumers money.
The runner-up team from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, developed a prototype of a natural gas-fired combination water heater and clothes dryer that can use the waste heat from the clothes dryer to heat water for the next washing load. The team demonstrated that with this approach, they could get a 10% dryer efficiency improvement compared to the best comparable products on the market.
The nine faculty-led student design teams were competitively selected and funded with up to $20,000 by the Energy Department to design, build, and test their prototypes during the 2011-2012 academic year. A panel of Energy Department experts along with those from the Department’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory judged each team’s prototype based on its demonstrated ability to reduce energy use by 10% or more compared to best on-market products, or based on the prototype’s ability to reduce production costs compared with typical high efficiency products already on the market by 20% or more. See the Energy Department Progress Alert and the Max Tech website.

EPA Awards $9 Million to 13 Universities for Climate Change Impacts Research

The EPA announced on August 22 that it awarded $9 million in grants to fund 13 universities for technologies that can help predict and prepare for the impacts of extreme weather triggered by climate change may have on air and water quality.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology was awarded $749,931 to examine the ability of models to represent the presence of extreme air pollution and the weather conditions. The project at MIT, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, will use advanced statistical techniques to identify the drivers and occurrence of historical and future extreme air quality events in the United States from observations and models. The project combines the work of statisticians and atmospheric scientists. The other 13 grants were awarded to researchers at Columbia University, Cornell University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Michigan State University, Michigan Technological University, Mississippi State University, Ohio State University, Oregon State University, University of South Florida (two grants), Public Policy Institute of California, University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Washington. See the EPA press release and the list of projects.

New York Offers $107 Million for Large Solar Power Projects

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on August 9 announced that $107 million is available for a major solar power incentive program that will increase the amount of electricity generated by photovoltaic (PV) systems throughout New York. The NY-Sun Competitive PV Program, administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, seeks proposals for PV systems greater than 50 kilowatts to be installed at larger commercial and industrial customer sites.
The newly established NY-Sun Competitive PV Program will make $36.4 million available in 2012 and $70.5 million in 2013. This phase of the program is available through the end of 2013 for PV projects in New York City and upstate New York at eligible customer sites. This is an expansion of a two-year-old program that previously focused on large PV systems for the commercial, industrial, and municipal sectors exclusively in New York City, Westchester County, and the lower Hudson Valley. All projects will require co-funding to best leverage state resources with funding capped at $3 million per project. See the New York press release and the NY-Sun Competitive PV Program initiative website.
The governor also signed a series of bills on August 17 as part of the NY-Sun initiative that will make solar energy more affordable for homeowners and businesses. The new laws include statewide tax credits for the lease of solar equipment and power purchase agreements, statewide sales tax exemptions for commercial solar equipment, and an extension of the real property tax abatement in New York City for solar installations. See the New York press release.

National Solar Tour Kicks Off in September

Photo of a house with solar panels and visitors enetering.

Local tours of solar houses are being offered throughout the United States starting in mid-September, with most on or around October 6.
Credit: MSB Energy Associates
The American Solar Energy Society (ASES) National Solar Tour officially takes place on October 6, but several events kick off as early as mid-September, and some offer weeklong action. Now in its seventeenth year, the annual showcase allows participants the opportunity to see innovative green homes and buildings that use solar energy, energy efficiency, and other sustainable technologies. ASES estimates that more than 165,000 participants will visit some 5,500 buildings in 3,200 communities across the United States.
Kicking off the nationwide series of tours, the Michiana Solar Tour is scheduled to take place on September 15 at Goshen College in Goshen, Indiana. The following day, the BRING Home & Garden Tour bus will take ticketholders to a variety of sustainable sites in Eugene, Oregon. Most tours will take place on or around October 6, but there are events scheduled through October 27. See the ASES National Solar Tour website and the list of tours.

CROATIAN CENTER of RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES (CCRES)

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

Energy Efficiency Upgrades Part of a Winning Formula for Oregon School District

A while ago, we wrote about the quiet, rural community of Vernonia, Oregon, which had been through its share of hard economic times. After two “500-year floods” in an 11-year period devastated the area, damaging its schools and the community core, the town finally started to rebuild its school last April. More than a year later, residents of Vernonia had reason to celebrate when Former Governor Ted Kulongoski joined United States Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and several other federal- and state-elected officials last week for the ribbon cutting of a new energy efficient K-12 school and community center.
The “barn raising” mentality of the Vernonia community helped make the new school and community center a success. The energy efficiency upgrades were made possible using a combination of state, federal, private sector, and non-profit funds—paired with a $13.6 million municipal bond measure passed by the town’s voters.
A $1 million grant from the Energy Department’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) program helped the school district incorporate energy efficiency measures, including an energy efficient integrated heating and cooling system. This feature, along with upgrades to the building envelope and lighting, are estimated to reduce the school district’s annual energy usage by 43%—saving taxpayers more than $62,000 per year for the 135,000 square-foot school. The energy efficient upgrades provide not only a healthier learning environment for students and faculty but bolster the school district’s application for LEED Platinum designation. For the complete story, see the Energy Blog.

Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources (CCRES)

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News and Events by CCRES August 23, 2012

 

 

Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources 

News and Events August 23, 2012

New Public-Private Partnership to Support U.S. Manufacturing Innovation

 

The Obama Administration announced on August 16 the launch of a new public-private institute for manufacturing innovation. The new partnership, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, was selected through a competitive process to receive an initial award of $30 million in federal funding, matched by $40 million from the winning consortium. The consortium includes manufacturing firms, universities, community colleges, and non-profit organizations from the Ohio-Pennsylvania-West Virginia “Tech Belt.”
On March 9, 2012, President Obama announced his plan to invest $1 billion to catalyze a national network of up to 15 manufacturing innovation institutes around the country that would serve as regional hubs for manufacturing. The President called on Congress to act on this proposal and create the National Network of Manufacturing Innovation. Five federal agencies—the Departments of Defense, Energy, and Commerce, the National Science Foundation, and NASA—jointly committed to invest $45 million in a pilot institute on additive manufacturing. Additive manufacturing is a process of making three-dimensional solid objects from a digital model. See the White House press release.

 

Energy Department Partnership to Certify Zero Net-Energy Ready Homes

 

The Energy Department on August 20 announced a new partnership between its Challenge Home program and the Passive House Institute US (PHIUS) on a voluntary certification process for energy-efficient homes. The partnership will streamline certifications for homes that can offset most or all of their utility bills with a small renewable energy system. These homes are referred to as “zero net-energy ready” homes. Home builders participating in these certification programs gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace by providing their customers with homes featuring energy savings, among other benefits.
The Energy Department’s Challenge Home program certifies homes that are 40% to 50% more energy efficient than typical homes. It also helps to minimize the risk of indoor air quality problems and ensures compatibility with renewable energy systems. Through the Challenge Home program and its original Builders Challenge specifications, the Department has certified more than 13,500 homes, which are saving consumers more than $10 million each year. Among these certified homes, more than 1,350 are considered zero net-energy ready homes based on Home Energy Rating System (HERS) scores of 55 or lower. PHIUS certifies building designs that are 65% to 75% more energy efficient than a typical new home, even before installing renewable energy systems. PHIUS has also trained nearly 400 construction professionals to build these homes. See the Energy Department Progress Alert.   
 

USDA Funds Boost Renewable Energy Production

 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on August 14 announced that 106 projects in 29 states, Guam, and Puerto Rico have been selected to receive funding for the production of renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements. Funding comes through the USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).
One example of a selected project is in Washington County, Iowa, where a recipient is receiving a guaranteed loan to construct a 50 kilowatt (kW) wind turbine at his agricultural business. The turbine is expected to generate approximately 103,200 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity annually—enough to meet the annual requirements of nine homes. WTE-Dallmann LLC in Calumet, Wisconsin, is another recipient of a REAP grant to help fund the installation of an anaerobic digester that will generate more than 4.8 million kWh of electricity—power for about 420 homes annually. The electricity will be sold to the local utility. See the USDA press release and the complete list of projects PDF.

 

FERC Awards License for Oregon Wave Power Station

 

Photo of a metal buoy bobbing in the ocean.

Ocean Power Technologies, which launched a device to convert wave energy off Hawaii’s coast in 2009, plans to tap wave power off the Oregon coast.
Credit: Ocean Power Technologies, Inc
Ocean Power Technologies (OPT) announced on August 20 that its subsidiary has received approval from the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for a planned 1.5 megawatt wave power station off the Oregon coast. This is the first FERC license for a wave power station issued in the United States. The license provides a regulatory approval for the deployment of up to 10 OPT devices, generating enough electricity for approximately 1,000 homes.
Construction of the initial 150-kilowatt device is nearing completion and is expected to be ready for deployment about 2.5 miles off the Reedsport, Oregon coast later this year. The wave energy converter consists of an open steel cylinder extending downward into the ocean from a floating buoy. A piston is located midway down the cylinder, and as waves pass, the piston moves up and down along the cylinder, applying pressure to seawater-filled hoses that eject high-pressure seawater into a turbine, which drives a generator to produce power.
OPT has received funding for this first system from the Energy Department with the support of the Oregon Congressional delegation and from PNGC Power, an Oregon-based electric power cooperative. Specifically, FERC has granted a 35-year license for grid-connected wave energy production. After the initial device is deployed, OPT plans to construct up to nine additional devices and grid connection infrastructure, subject to receipt of additional funding and all necessary regulatory approvals. See the OPT press release.

 

CROATIAN CENTER of RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES (CCRES)

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

Building the Largest U.S. Energy Efficiency Project

 

The popular expression “go big or go home” means to go all the way. And an energy efficiency project at a paper manufacturer in Longview, Washington, went so big that it’s thought to be the largest of its kind in the United States, ever. It’s so big that the energy experts at ESource, who answer thousands of energy-related questions every year, couldn’t find a reported project that’s saved more energy.
NORPAC is the largest newsprint and specialty paper mill in North America. Its 33-year-old mill produces 750,000 tons of paper a year and on a daily basis makes enough paper to stretch a 30-foot-wide sheet from their Northwest mill all the way to Miami, Florida. NORPAC is the largest industrial consumer of electricity in the State of Washington, requiring about 200 average megawatts of power—roughly 100 times more power than an average household uses in an entire month. For the complete story, see the Energy Blog.
 

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News and Events by CCRES July 19, 2012

 

 

 

Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources 

News and Events July 19, 2012

 

Energy Department Breaks Ground on Turbine Test Facility

 

The Energy Department joined with Texas Tech University and the department’s Sandia National Laboratories on July 17 to break ground on a new state-of-the-art wind turbine test facility in Lubbock, Texas. Supported by a $2.6 million investment from the department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the Scaled Wind Farm Technology (SWIFT) facility will be the first public facility of its kind to use multiple wind turbines to measure how wind turbine wakes interact with one another in a wind farm. Scheduled to begin operation later this year, the facility will help wind turbine designers and manufacturers continue to drive down the cost of wind energy by reducing the aerodynamic losses of wind energy plants, enhancing energy capture, and mitigating turbine damage.
Along with the ability to monitor wind plant performance, the SWIFT facility will have additional advanced testing and monitoring capabilities, as well as space for up to ten wind turbines, allowing researchers to examine how larger wind farms can become more productive and collaborative. The facility, which will host both open-source and proprietary research, is the result of a partnership between the department’s Sandia National Laboratories, the Texas Tech University Wind Science and Engineering Research Center, Group NIRE, and wind turbine manufacturer Vestas. The site will initially be equipped with two research-scale wind turbines provided by the Energy Department and a third installed by Vestas Technology R&D in Houston. See the DOE Progress Alert and the Wind Program website.

 

Energy Department Offers Public Review of Savings Protocols

 

The Energy Department is developing new voluntary procedures that will help standardize how state and local governments, industry, and energy efficiency organizations estimate energy savings. These protocols are being developed by technical experts through collaboration with energy efficiency program administrators, industry stakeholders, and home energy assessors. The department invites stakeholders from the public sector, industry, and academia to participate in an online public review of these new protocols in an effort to estimate energy savings from energy efficiency programs.
The new procedures provide a straightforward method for evaluating potential energy savings in residential and commercial building upgrades offered through ratepayer-funded initiatives. These common energy efficiency upgrades include energy-saving lighting, lighting controls, commercial air conditioning, and residential furnaces and boilers. These voluntary protocols will help energy efficiency program administrators and local governments improve the objectivity, consistency, and transparency of energy savings data; it will also help strengthen consumers’ confidence in the results expected from energy efficiency upgrades. The protocols, being developed under the Uniform Methods Project, are available for review through July 27. See the DOE Progress Alert and the protocols for review.

 

New ARPA-E Projects to Boost Natural Gas Vehicle Technologies

 

Photo of large garbage truck parked in a lot.

A refuse truck powered by compressed natural gas in Washington state.
Credit: Western Washington Clean Cities
The Energy Department on July 12 announced $30 million in funding for 13 research projects designed to find new ways of harnessing natural gas supplies for cars and trucks. Researchers in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin will work on the initiative. The grants are made through the Energy Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E). The projects are part of Methane Opportunities for Vehicular Energy, which aims to engineer lightweight, affordable natural gas tanks for vehicles and develop natural gas compressors that efficiently fuel a natural gas vehicle at home.
Today’s natural gas vehicle technologies require tanks that can withstand high pressures. They are often cumbersome, and are either too large or too expensive to be suitable for smaller passenger vehicles. ARPA-E’s new projects are focused on removing these barriers, which will help encourage the widespread use of natural gas cars and trucks. For example, REL, Inc. in Calumet, Michigan, will receive $3 million to develop an internal “foam core” for natural gas tanks that allows tanks to be formed into any shape. This will enable higher storage capacity than current carbon fiber tanks at one-third the cost.
The projects will also focus on developing natural gas compressors that make it easier for consumers to re-fuel at home. The Center for Electromechanics at the University of Texas at Austin will use $4 million to develop an at-home natural gas re-fueling system that compresses gas with a single piston. Unlike current four-piston compressors, these highly integrated single-piston systems will use fewer moving parts, leading to a more reliable, lighter, and cost-effective compressor. See the Energy Department press release and the complete list of projects PDF.

 

CROATIAN CENTER of RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES (CCRES)

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

 

USDA Funds Improved Rural Electric Infrastructures

 

 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on July 12 that rural electric cooperatives and utilities in 15 states will receive $287 million in loan guarantees to make improvements to generation and transmission facilities and to implement smart grid technologies. The announcement includes support for more than $10 million in smart grid technologies. This will help utilities make efficiency improvements to the electric grid and help consumers lower their electric bills by reducing energy use in homes and businesses. With this funding, USDA Rural Development moves closer to reaching a department goal to fund more than $250 million for smart grid technologies.
In Texas, Houston County Electric Cooperative is receiving $9 million to build and improve 421 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements, serving 2,000 customers. The loan includes $670,000 in smart grid projects. The loan guarantees are provided by USDA Rural Development’s Rural Utilities Service. The funding helps electric utilities upgrade, expand, maintain, and replace electric infrastructure. USDA Rural Development also funds energy conservation and renewable energy projects. See the USDA press release.

 

Global Clean Energy Spending Rebounds in Second Quarter of 2012

 

Global clean energy investments increased 24% in the second quarter of 2012 compared to the first quarter, with new investment totaling $59.6 billion, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The amount was still 18% below the near-record quarterly figure of $72.5 billion in the second quarter last year.
The United States enjoyed solid gains in investment in the second quarter of 18% over the first quarter, reaching $10.2 billion, the report said. China surged 92% in investment to $18.3 billion in the April-to-June period. Overall, solar accounted for $33.6 billion of investment in the second quarter, up 19% over the first quarter, and wind had $21.6 billion, up 47% quarter to quarter. The largest venture capital and private equity deals of the quarter saw U.S. automaker Fisker clinch $148 million for its plug-in hybrid vehicle development. The figures draw on a comprehensive database of transactions in clean energy worldwide. See the Bloomberg New Energy Finance press release.

 

California Awards $1.1 Million for Energy Research Projects

 

The California Energy Commission on July 11 awarded $1.1 million for energy research projects, including a variety impacting renewable energy and energy efficiency. Funds for the 10 projects come from the Commission’s Public Interest Research Project program. Commissioners approved $300,000 to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California at San Diego in order to better understand differences in regional climate model projections for California and how they impact hydropower generation forecasting.
The remaining nine projects are from PIER’s Energy Innovations Small Grant program. The program provides money to small businesses, non-profits, individuals, and academic institutions to conduct research establishing the feasibility of new, innovative energy concepts. These grants are capped at $95,000. Among the projects is a project dealing with small soluble organic molecules designed to increase the lifetime and reliability of photovoltaics, and a study of enhanced cooling towers for cooling buildings. See the California Energy Commission press release.
 

Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources  (CCRES)

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News and Events by CCRES July 12, 2012

 

 

Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources 

News and Events July 12, 2012

Report: Energy-Efficient Lighting has Lower Environmental Impact

A new Energy Department report finds that LED lamps have a significantly lower environmental impact than incandescent lighting and a slight environmental edge over compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). The report, LED Manufacturing and Performance, compares these three technologies from the beginning to the end of their life cycles, including manufacturing, operation, and disposal. The most comprehensive study of its kind for LED lamps, the report analyzes the energy and environmental impacts of manufacturing, assembly, transport, operation, and disposal of these three lighting types. It is the first public report to consider the LED manufacturing process in depth. See the LED Manufacturing and Performance report PDF.
This is the second report produced through a larger Energy Department project intended to assess the life-cycle environmental and resource costs of LED lighting products in comparison with traditional lighting technologies. It utilizes conclusions from the previous report, Review of the Lifecycle Energy Consumption of Incandescent, Compact Fluorescent and LED Lamps, released in February 2012, to produce a thorough assessment of the manufacturing process. See the Review of the Lifecycle Energy Consumption of Incandescent, Compact Fluorescent and LED Lamps report PDF.
The initial report concluded that CFLs and today’s LEDs are similar in energy consumption—both consuming significantly less electricity over the same period of usage than incandescent lighting—and that operating these products consumed the majority of the energy used throughout their life cycles. Similarly, the new report finds that the energy these lighting products consume during operation makes up the majority of their environmental impact, compared to the energy consumed in manufacturing and transportation. Because of their high efficiency—consuming only 12.5 watts of electricity to produce about the same amount of light as CFLs (15 watts) and incandescents (60 watts)—LED lamps were found to be the most environmentally friendly of the three lamp types over the lifetime of the products, across 14 of the 15 impact measures examined in the study. See the DOE Progress Alert and the Solid State Lighting website.
 

 

Energy Department Honors Utilities with Public Power Wind Awards

The Energy Department on June 19 recognized three utilities—two in Minnesota and one in California—with the 2012 Public Power Wind Award. Minnesota’s Moorhead Public Service and the Minnesota Municipal Power Agency, along with California’s City of Palo Alto Utilities, received the awards. The American Public Power Association (APPA) and the Energy Department’s Wind Powering America initiative created the Public Power Wind Award to recognize APPA-member utilities that demonstrate outstanding leadership in advancing wind power and furthering energy independence.
Now in its tenth year, the annual award recognizes APPA members in three categories: Small Member System, Large Member System, and Joint Action Agency. Moorhead Public Service received the Small Member System award for its years of leadership in wind energy that began with its pioneering utility-scale wind investments in 1999. The City of Palo Alto Utilities received the Large Member System award for delivering 17% of its energy mix from wind power, and for using wind energy to provide 97.5% of the renewable energy credits the utility uses for its green power program, PaloAltoGreen. And Minnesota Municipal Power Agency received the Joint Action Agency award for installing a wind turbine in each of its member communities, with which it collaborated to develop the 44-megawatt Oak Glen Wind Farm in Steele County, providing enough electricity to power 14,000 homes. See the DOE Progress Alert and the Wind Powering America website.
 

 

EIA Sees Energy Efficiency Slowing U.S. Energy Consumption

Increased energy efficiency will contribute to a slowing of the annual growth rate of U.S. energy consumption from 2012 to 2035, expanding at an average annual rate of 0.3%, according to a new study from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). The agency recently released its Annual Energy Outlook 2012, which includes both a reference case and 29 alternative cases. By comparision to the lower projections, the U.S. growth rate of energy consumption was 1.8% in 2005. In the reference case, the share of U.S. energy generation from renewables is projected to grow from 10% to 15%. The report describes how different assumptions regarding market, policy, and technology drivers affect energy production, consumption, technology, and market trends.
According to the report, the slowdown in the rate of growth in energy usage reflects increasing energy efficiency in end-use applications, among other things. In one basic scenario, EIA estimates the overall U.S. energy consumption will expand at an average annual rate of 0.3% through 2035. During this period, the United States won’t return to the levels of energy demand growth experienced in the 20 years prior to the 2008-2009 recession. The authors cite existing federal and state energy requirements and incentives as playing a continuing role in more efficient technologies. Additionally, new federal and state policies could lead to further reductions in energy consumption. The document also examines the potential impact of technology change and the proposed vehicle fuel efficiency standards on energy consumption. See the EIA press release, and the complete reportPDF.
 

 

New Power Line Delivers Renewable Energy to San Diego

Photo of two helicopters and part of a power tower.

The Sunrise Powerlink transmission line under construction in California.
Credit: San Diego Gas & Electric
The $1.9 billion Sunrise Powerlink, a 500,000-volt transmission line linking San Diego, California, to the Imperial Valley, is now in service after a five-year permitting process and 18 months of construction. San Diego Gas & Electric announced on June 18 that the line will connect San Diego with one of the most renewable-rich regions in California. For environmental reasons, nearly 75% of the tower locations required helicopters to set the tower structures and it took more than 28,000 flight hours to complete the aerial construction.
The Sunrise Powerlink will soon deliver a significant amount of wind and solar power to San Diego. Over the past three years, San Diego Gas & Electric signed eight renewable energy agreements for more than 1,000 megawatts of solar and wind power from projects in Imperial County. In 2011, more than 20% of the utility’s power came from renewable energy, and by 2020, it will get 33% from renewable resources. See the San Diego Gas & Electric press release.
 

 

IEA: Renewable Energy to Grow During the Next 5 Years

Global renewable power generation is expected to continue its rapid growth over the next five years, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA). The Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report 2012, released on July 5, says that despite economic uncertainties, global power generation from hydropower, solar, wind, and other renewable sources is projected to increase by more than 40% to almost 6,400 terawatt hours by 2017. That amount would be roughly one-and-a-half times the current electricity production in the United States.
The study examines in detail 15 key markets for renewable energy, which currently represent about 80% of renewable generation, while it identifies developments that may emerge in other important markets. Of the 710 gigawatts of new global renewable electricity capacity expected, China accounts for almost 40%, with the United States, India, Germany, and Brazil also contributing to the growth. The report presents detailed forecasts for renewable energy generation and capacity for eight technologies: hydropower, bioenergy for power, onshore wind, offshore wind, solar photovoltaics (PV), concentrating solar power, geothermal, and ocean power. Hydropower is projected to have the largest increase in generation, followed by onshore wind, bioenergy, and solar PV.
This expansion is underpinned by the maturing of renewable energy technologies, in large part due to supportive policy and market frameworks. However, rapidly increasing electricity demand and energy security needs in recent years have been spurring deployment in many emerging markets. These new deployment opportunities are creating a virtuous cycle of improved global competition and cost reductions. See the IEA press release.
 

 

CROATIAN CENTER of RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES (CCRES)

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

One Cool Change at Energy HQ

The Forrestal Building, which stands as the centerpiece of the Energy Department’s headquarters complex, has recently undergone a change that will save the U.S. taxpayers an estimated $600,000 every year.
“Through the installation of the new chiller plant, we’re saving money on our air conditioning bills with more efficient equipment while providing much more reliable air conditioning to our critical facilities”, said Peter O’Konski, director for the department’s Office of Administration. “That’s good for our environment, our customers, and our bottom line.”
The chiller plant was constructed through an Energy Savings Performance Contract, a public-private partnership that allowed the department to apply industry best practices and use private financing for the project. The financing costs are recovered from energy savings.
The partnership is also ushering in improvements like LED exterior lights, steam trap repairs and a variable air volume system that are expected to save $59.5 million in the long term. For the complete story, see the DOE Energy Blog.
 

 

Making Efficiency a More Efficient Business

By Roland Risser, program manager, Building Technologies Program
Even with the sweltering heat and relaxation that summer usually brings, the Energy Department’s Better Buildings Neighborhood Program is showing no sign of slowing down. This week, the program is hosting the Residential Energy Efficiency Solutions: From Innovation to Market Transformation conference, bringing together approximately 400 administrators and implementers of residential energy efficiency programs and associated stakeholders. Six new case studies, a business models guide and a video showcasing energy efficiency upgrade professionals are debuting at the conference. Each was designed to inspire communities across the country to save money, create new jobs, and foster business opportunities.
The six case studies—profiling successful workforce development and incentive initiatives in Maine, Michigan, Oregon, and Pennsylvania—are a great resource for any energy efficiency upgrade professional. Each addresses key topics such as participant recruitment, workforce training, and cost barriers that contractors and consumers face. For the complete story, see the DOE Energy Blog.
 

Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources (CCRES)

 
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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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News and Events by CCRES June 28, 2012

Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources

News and Events June 28, 2012

Efficiency, Renewable Energy Projects Win 12 R&D 100 Awards

Photo of two men testing equipment in a laboratory.

NREL engineers Jason Woods, left, and Eric Kozubal conduct research on a prototype of DEVAP, which earned an R&D100 award.
Credit: Dennis Schroeder/NREL
Energy efficiency and renewable energy projects from DOE national laboratories have won 12 of the 100 awards given out this year by R&D Magazine. The awards are presented annually to recognize exceptional new products, processes, materials, and software developed throughout the world and introduced into the market the previous year. Overall, DOE won 36 awards, including those funded by DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). Scientists and engineers from DOE’s national laboratories and facilities received the honors from an independent panel of judges.
There were eight DOE winners for energy efficiency. Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) was cited for four projects: NanoSHIELD, a protective coating that can extend the life of costly cutting and boring tools by more than 20%; the robotic hand, which costs approximately 10 times less than similar devices while commanding 10 times more power than other electric systems; the asymmetric rolling mill, which provides a way to efficiently process sheet and plate materials, accelerating the production and availability of low-cost magnesium; and the low-frequency RF plasma source, a low-cost plasma generator for research, development, and production of nanometer scale materials at lower temperatures, faster rates, and with enhanced properties. In addition, Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) earned honors for its ultra-fast, large-scale efficient boriding—a thermo-chemical surface hardening process in which boron atoms are diffused into a surface—that can drastically reduce costs, increase productivity, and improve the performance and reliability of machine components. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) won for its desiccant-enhanced evaporative air-conditioning (DEVAP) systems, which cool commercial buildings using a small fraction of the energy used by traditional coolers. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) won for co-developing graphene nanostructures for lithium batteries, in which small quantities of graphene can dramatically improve the performance and power of lithium-ion batteries so batteries last longer and recharge quickly. And, Sandia National Laboratories was honored for the Sandia cooler, technology that significantly reduces the energy needed to cool the processor chips in data centers and large-scale computing environments. See the press releases from ORNL, ANL, NREL, PNNL, and Sandia.
In renewable energy categories, there were four R&D 100 award picks. ANL and several partners developed a novel high-energy and high-power cathode material that is especially suited for use in lithium-ion batteries used in plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles. Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) was recognized for its platinum monolayer electrocatalysts for fuel cell cathodes, which have high activity, stability, and durability, while containing only about one-tenth the platinum of conventional catalysts used in fuel cells, significantly reducing overall costs. NREL was tapped for its SJ3 solar cell, which achieves a world-record conversion efficiency of 43.5% with the potential to reach 50% by using a three-layered SJ3 cell to capture different light frequencies, ensuring the best conversion of the energy from photons to electrons. And, Sandia’s microsystems enabled photovoltaics were recognized because the glitter-sized PV cells created using microdesign and microfabrication techniques can be released into a solution and “printed” onto a low-cost substrate. See the press releases from ANL, BNL, NREL, and Sandia.
Since 1963, when R&D Magazine’s annual competition began, DOE has received more than 800 R&D 100 awards in areas such as energy and basic scientific applications. See the DOE Progress Alert, the DOE press release and the complete list of R&D 100 winners.

U.S. and Canada Set Next Phase of Clean Energy Dialogue

The Energy Department and Environment Canada released on June 21 the U.S.-Canada Clean Energy Dialogue Action Plan II, outlining the next phase of activities the two countries will undertake to jointly advance clean energy technologies. The new action plan renews U.S. and Canadian commitment to work together to build smart electrical grids, and advance clean energy research and development. Action Plan II places a greater emphasis on energy efficiency to take advantage of the approaches and tools in each country to help facilitate the uptake of energy efficient technologies and practices.
Among the initiatives under Action Plan II will be an initiative to clarify U.S. and Canadian regulatory authorities for deployment of offshore renewable energy and technologies. The plan also calls for new investigations of the potential of power storage technologies. Also, the plan calls for discussions among key Canadian federal departments and provincial governments, the Energy Department, and U.S. national labs regarding options to harmonize data gathering related to electric vehicles and charging infrastructure for North America.
President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper established the Clean Energy Dialogue in 2009 to encourage the development of clean energy technologies to reduce greenhouse gases and combat climate change in both countries. See the DOE press release and the complete planPDF.

Energy Department, Park Service Announce Clean Cities Partnership

Photo of three park vehicles with signage.

New alternative fuel vehicles at Mammoth Cave National Park display decals acknowledging the Department of Energy-Clean Cities/National Park Service Initiative that provided the vehicles to the park.
Credit: Victor Peek Photography
The Energy Department and the National Park Service announced on June 19 that five national parks around the country will deploy fuel efficient and alternative fuel vehicles as part of an expanded partnership, helping to protect some of the nation’s most prized natural environments. The Energy Department is providing $1.1 million for the park projects. Each of these national parks is collaborating with at least one of the Energy Department’s Clean Cities coalitions to choose the best clean energy options for its fleet. The parks include Golden Gate National Recreation Area, California; Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado; San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, Texas; and Shenandoah National Park and Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia.
Some of the alternative fuel vehicles are multi-passenger rides devoted to park visitors, and that means even greater reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The new projects build upon the success of the program launched last year at Grand Teton, Wyoming; Mammoth Cave, Kentucky; and Yellowstone, Wyoming. The parks predict their combined projects will save more than 13,000 equivalent gallons of gasoline, avoid the emission of about 100 tons of greenhouse gases annually, and reach 6.5 million visitors each year. The Energy Department has been working with the National Park Service since 1999 to support the use of clean, renewable and alternative fuels, electric vehicles, and other energy-saving practices to help preserve air quality and promote the use of domestic energy resources in the parks. See the Energy Department press release, the Clean Cities website, and the National Park Service’s Green Parks Plan website.

DOI OKs First Commercial Solar Project on Indian Trust Lands

The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) approved on June 21 a 350-megawatt (MW) solar energy project on tribal trust lands of the Moapa Band (Tribe) of Paiute Indians in Clark County, Nevada. The project marks a milestone as the first utility-scale solar project approved for development on tribal lands. The record of decision approves the construction, operation, and maintenance of a low-impact photovoltaic (PV) facility and associated infrastructure on about 2,000 acres of the Tribe’s reservation, located 30 miles north of Las Vegas. The project is expected to generate about 400 jobs at peak construction and 15-20 permanent jobs.
Proposed by K Road Moapa Solar LLC, the project would be built in three phases of 100-150 megawatts each. In addition to PV panel arrays, major project components include a 500-kilovolt (kV) transmission line to deliver power to the grid and a 12-kV transmission line to the existing Moapa Travel Plaza after Phase 1 is complete. About 12 acres of U.S. public land administered by the Bureau of Land Management would be required for the 500-kV transmission line. The project will generate lease income for the tribe, create new jobs and employment opportunities for tribal members, and connect the existing tribally owned travel plaza to the electrical grid, decreasing its dependence on a diesel-powered generator. To minimize and mitigate potential environmental impacts, a Desert Tortoise translocation plan, a bird and bat Conservation strategy, and a weed management plan will be implemented, and biologists will conduct natural resources monitoring during all surface disturbing activities. See the Interior Department press release.

FERC Approves Final Rule to Integrate Variable Energy Resources

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued on June 21 a final rule that requires transmission providers to offer customers the option of scheduling transmission service at 15-minute intervals instead of one-hour intervals. The rule also requires generators using variable energy resources, such as wind and solar, to provide transmission owners with certain data to support power production forecasting. According to FERC, the ruling will promote more efficient operation of the transmission system amid increasing integration of variable renewable energy resources on the grid. The ruling also benefits electric consumers by ensuring that services are provided at reasonable rates.
The final rule finds that while power production forecasts help transmission providers manage reserves more efficiently, forecasts are only as good as the data on which they rely. By requiring new interconnection customers whose variable energy resources to provide meteorological and operational data to transmission providers forecasting power production, FERC finds that transmission providers will better be able to manage resource variability. The final rule takes effect 12 months after publication in the Federal Register. See the FERC press release.

CROATIAN CENTER of RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES (CCRES)

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

Making the Impossible Possible: From Kennedy’s Moonshot to Solar’s SunShot

By Ramamoorthy Ramesh, Director, SunShot Initiative & Solar Energy Technologies Program
In my two years as the director of the Energy Department’s Solar Energy Technologies Program, I have often been accused of being an eternal optimist. I see our nation’s energy challenges as an incredible opportunity—one that has the potential to revolutionize our economy, environment, and national security.
That’s why, back in 2010, we established the SunShot Initiative to decrease the total installed price of solar energy by 75% by 2020. We took our inspiration from President Kennedy’s 1962 “moon shot” speech that set the country on a path to regain the lead in the space race and land a man on the moon. Many thought a manned lunar mission was beyond NASA’s capabilities, but this bold move ultimately united the country when it proved successful.
There were plenty of naysayers when we launched the SunShot Initiative—even within the industry—who said that subsidy-free, cost-competitive solar couldn’t happen in this decade. But we didn’t listen to them. And now—as the price of solar panels decreases and America’s solar energy industry explodes—many of those same naysayers are changing their tune. See the complete post on the Energy Blog.

Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources (CCRES)

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