Wednesday, July 13, 2011



News and Events

July 13, 2011

DOE Offers $105 Million Loan Guarantee for Cellulosic Bio-Refinery

DOE announced on July 7 the offer of a conditional commitment for a $105 million loan guarantee to support the development of the first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant in the United States. Project LIBERTY, sponsored by POET, LLC, will produce up to 25 million gallons of ethanol per year and will be located in Emmetsburg, Iowa. POET estimates the project will generate approximately 200 jobs during construction and 40 permanent jobs at the plant.

Project LIBERTY will use corncobs, leaves, and husks as fuel sources that do not compete with feed grains. The project's innovative process uses enzymatic hydrolysis to convert waste into ethanol, and the project will produce enough biogas to power both Project LIBERTY and POET's adjacent grain-based ethanol plant. Project LIBERTY will displace over 13.5 million gallons of gasoline annually and fulfill more than 25% percent of the projected 2013 renewable fuel standard requirement for biomass-based cellulosic ethanol. POET plans to replicate its process at 27 other corn ethanol facilities, which would have a projected combined annual capacity of one billion gallons per year of cellulosic ethanol.

DOE's Loan Programs Office has issued loans or loan guarantees, or offered conditional commitments for loan guarantees totaling over $38 billion to support 41 clean energy projects across the United States. See the DOE press release and the Loans Program Office website.

DOE Reports Growth for Wind Power, Advanced Vehicles, and Fuel Cells

Photo of car with a large, T-shaped battery device displayed in front of it.

Advanced technology vehicles, such as the Chevy Volt, will flourish with continued developments in batteries, like the lithium-ion replica shown.
Credit: GM Corp.

DOE released on July 12 three 2010 market reports that illustrate growth and deployment in wind power, advanced vehicles, and fuel cell technologies. Taken together, the reports highlight improving U.S. global competitiveness in the clean energy economy while creating cleantech jobs.

The 2010 Wind Technologies Market Report, produced by DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), analyzes trends in wind power capacity, manufacturing, performance, and costs. Wind energy installations comprised 25% of new U.S. electricity capacity additions in 2010, representing $11 billion in new investments, LBNL's report said. The newest wind installations created enough new capacity to power roughly 1.3 million homes. The report also notes that U.S. manufacturing of wind turbine components continues to increase, with domestically produced goods used in U.S. wind power projects reaching approximately 68% in 2009-2010, up from 52% in 2005-2006.

The 2010 Fuel Cell Technologies Market Report, produced by the Breakthrough Technologies Institute, provides an overview of trends in the fuel cell industry, including product shipments, market development, and corporate performance. The report indicates continued growth in commercial deployments, especially material handling equipment, combined heat and power, and back-up and auxiliary power unit applications. Commercial sales continue to grow as the number of fuel cell units shipped from North America quadrupled between 2008 and 2010.

Earlier this year, DOE and its Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) released the 2010 Vehicle Technologies Market Report, which documents trends in fuel efficiency, component suppliers, and the overall market for alternative fuel vehicles. The report finds that in the past five years, car manufacturers have produced cars that are more energy efficient, incorporated innovative lightweight materials, built cleaner-burning engines, and deployed new hybrid electric systems that reduce fossil fuels use. The report also predicts that the number of hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) and plug-in HEVs will rise significantly with increases in production, particularly in battery manufacturing. See the DOE Progress Alert, the LBNL wind reportPDF, the fuel cell reportPDF, and the ORNL vehicle reportPDF.

U.S. Firms Top New Renewable Energy Use Survey

Photo of three large wind turbines in snow-covered field.

Wind turbines are among the renewable sources providing energy to corporations, such as Whole Foods Market, which ranked first in a survey of wind-energy consumption.
Credit: Vestas

Three U.S. firms are among the world's leading corporate buyers of renewable energy, according to survey released on June 28 by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Whole Foods Market, Intel Corporation, and Kohl's Department Stores were cited in results that were part of the new Corporate Renewable Energy Index. Commissioned by Vestas Wind Systems, the index is designed to offer information about the types of energy used by major corporations.

Among the almost 1,000 companies surveyed, more than 100 responded with 2010 total energy consumption figures as well as data about renewable energy as a share of total energy consumption. The index also includes how corporations procure renewable energy, such as through renewable energy certificates. The renewable energy technologies included geothermal, solar, wind, hydro, and waste energy.

Chip-maker Intel procured 1,493 gigawatt hours of renewable energy in 2010. Kohl's ranked highest in terms of renewable procurement on a percentage basis, with 100.4% of its electricity coming from renewable energy, including extra purchases of renewable energy credits. Natural foods retailer Whole Foods Market was tops in wind-specific energy, with all of its electricity coming from this source. See the Vestas press release and the Bloomberg New Energy Finance survey.

Global Investments in Cleantech up a Third: UN Report

Cleantech investments rose 32% globally in 2010 compared to the previous year, driven mainly by expansions of wind farms in China and European rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, according to a report on renewable energy investment trends by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). In 2010, a record $211 billion was invested into renewables, according to "Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2011," which was prepared for UNEP by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Among the developed economies, the United States was a leader, with financial new investment in large-scale renewables jumping from just under $16 billion in 2009 to more than $25 billion. The big feature was asset financing of wind energy, which totaled $14.9 billion, helped in part by falling turbine prices, the report stated.

Overall, developing economies overtook developed ones in terms of "financial new investment," which the UNEP report defined as spending on utility-scale renewable energy projects and equity capital for renewable energy companies. For example, spending in the Middle East and Africa surged 104% to $5 billion, while renewable investments in Central and South America grew 39% to $13 billion. China, with a nearly $49 billion investment, was the world leader, increasing its spending by 28%. Although there was a 22% decline—to $35 billion—in Europe's large-scale renewables, this was offset by small-scale projects, particularly rooftop solar. See the UNEP press release and the Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2011PDF report.

New Interactive Map Reveals U.S. Tidal Energy Resources

Tidal energy—a renewable, predictable resource available up and down America’s coastlines—holds great promise for clean energy generation. And now, a first-of-its-kind database gives researchers deeper insight into the potential of this energy resource for the United States.

The online database, developed at the Georgia Institute of Technology in cooperation with DOE, maps the energy available in the nation's tidal streams. Researchers at Georgia Tech's Savannah campus used the Regional Ocean Model to simulate tidal flows along the entire U.S. coastline, which is marked by thousands of streams, rivers, and bays subject to daily tides. DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory validated the model's accuracy, and the resulting data are now publicly available. See the Energy Blog post.

Team Florida Takes "Sunshine State" Moniker Seriously

It only seems natural that the Sunshine State would combine the power of colleges from across the state to bring its solar-powered, energy efficient home to the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011 on the National Mall this fall. Unlike most teams in the competition—which are comprised of participants from one or less often two or three schools—Team Florida is made up of researchers from four Sunshine State universities: the University of South Florida, the University of Florida, Florida State University, and the University of Central Florida. The team was conceived in the belief that the building industry cannot function effectively without close collaboration between groups of professionals representing different fields of expertise. With this in mind, Team Florida says they are utilizing the brainpower of eight different departments of the respective schools, and all of this collaborative expertise is giving Team Florida a unique perspective on their design.

Each of the 20 teams' entries in the competition often address unique challenges related to regional climate or places that might not receive much sun. Team Florida's FLeX House, on the other hand, was designed specifically for hot, humid climates and sunny places like those comparable to central Florida. But that doesn't make its job any easier. See the Energy Blog post.

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