Wednesday, August 10, 2011

NEWS and EVENTS by CCRES August 10, 2011


August 10, 2011

News and Events

President Obama Announces First Fuel Efficiency Standards for Work Trucks

The Obama Administration announced on August 9 the first fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas pollution standards for work trucks, buses, and other heavy-duty vehicles. Under the new program, trucks and buses built in 2014 through 2018 will reduce oil consumption by a projected 530 million barrels and greenhouse gas pollution by approximately 270 million metric tons. The initiative will also save an estimated $50 billion in fuel costs over the life of the program. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed the standards in coordination with the automotive industry and other stakeholders, including environmental groups and the state of California.

The joint DOT/EPA program will include a range of targets that are specific to the diverse vehicle types. Vehicles are divided into three major categories: combination tractors (semi-trucks), heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans, and vocational vehicles (like transit buses and refuse trucks). Within each of those categories, even more specific targets are laid out based on the design and purpose of the vehicle. This flexible structure allows serious but achievable fuel efficiency improvement goals charted for each year and for each vehicle category and type. By the 2018 model year, certain semi-trucks will achieve up to an approximately 20% reduction in fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, saving up to 4 gallons of fuel for every 100 miles traveled. See the White House press release, the program fact sheetPDF, and the EPA transportation and climate regulations and standards Web page.

DOE Announces Winner of L Prize Lightbulb Competition

Photo of an led light bulb.

Philips Lighting North America won the 60-watt replacement bulb category of the L Prize competition.
Credit: Philips

DOE announced on August 3 that Philips Lighting North America won the 60-watt replacement bulb category of the Bright Tomorrow Lighting Prize (L Prize) competition. As the winner, Philips will receive a $10 million cash prize as well as L Prize partner promotions and incentives. DOE's L Prize competition challenged the lighting industry to develop high-performance, energy-saving replacements for conventional lightbulbs.

Submitted in 2009, the Philips LED bulb successfully completed 18 months of intensive field, lab, and product testing to meet the rigorous requirements of the L Prize competition—ensuring that performance, quality, lifetime, cost, and availability meet expectations for widespread adoption and mass manufacturing. If every 60-watt incandescent bulb in the United States were replaced with the 10-watt L Prize winner, the nation would save $3.9 billion in one year and would avoid 20 million metric tons of carbon emissions.

Launched in 2008, DOE's L Prize competition targets the 60-watt bulb because it is one of the most widely used types of lightbulbs by consumers, representing roughly half of the domestic incandescent lightbulb market. See the DOE press release and the L Prize website.

Arizona Solar Project Gets a $967 Million DOE Loan Guarantee

DOE announced on August 5 that it has finalized a $967 million loan guarantee to Agua Caliente Solar, LLC, for a solar photovoltaic generating facility in Arizona. The loan guarantee will support the construction of a 290-megawatt solar power plant, called Agua Caliente Solar, in Yuma County. The project will use thin-film solar panels manufactured by First Solar, Inc. Sponsor NRG Solar LLC estimates the loan guarantee will fund approximately 400 construction jobs and 10 full-time operating jobs at the plant, one of the largest of its kind in the world.

Agua Caliente will deploy innovative technologies new to U.S. solar power plants to improve the reliability and predictability of the electricity supplied to the electricity grid. Pacific Gas & Electric Company will purchase power generated from the project for California consumers. DOE's Loan Programs Office has issued loans or loan guarantees, or offered conditional commitments for loan guarantees totaling more than $40 billion to support 42 clean energy projects across the United States. See the DOE press release and the Loan Programs Office website.

DOE Awards $7 Million for Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Storage Research

DOE announced on August 9 nearly $7 million for independent cost analyses that will support research and development efforts for fuel cells and hydrogen storage systems. Over the next five years, four projects—in California, Ohio, and Virginia—will generate cost estimates for manufacturing equipment, labor, energy, raw materials, and various components. This research will help identify ways to drive down production costs of transportation fuel cell systems, stationary fuel cell systems, and hydrogen storage systems. These projects will help DOE focus future research and development funding on the fuel cell components and manufacturing processes that can deliver the greatest gains in efficiency.

These projects will generate life-cycle cost analyses of existing and conceptual fuel cell systems for transportation and stationary applications. The four projects will analyze a range of system sizes, manufacturing volumes, and applications, including transportation, backup power, and material-handling equipment such as forklifts. Directed Technologies, Inc., in Arlington, Virginia, will conduct two analyses, one on transportation fuel cell systems and the other on hydrogen storage systems. DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will develop total cost models for low- and high-temperature stationary fuel cell systems up to 250 kilowatts (kW). And, Battelle Memorial Institute, in Columbus, Ohio, will assess stationary fuel cell applications up to 25 kW, including forklifts, backup power units, primary power, and combined heat and power systems, and will analyze large-scale fuel cell applications ranging from 100 to 250 kW, such as auxiliary power, primary power, and large-scale combined heat and power systems. See the DOE press release.

Wind Energy Rebounds in Second Quarter of 2011: AWEA

Photo of large wind turbines in a field.

U.S. wind energy capacity expanded in the second quarter of 2011 according to industry group AWEA.
Credit: Todd Spink

U.S. wind energy continued to rebound in the second quarter, according to a report released by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) on August 4. The group reported 2,151 megawatts (MW) of electrical generating capacity were installed in the first half of 2011 versus 1,250 MW installed during the same time in 2010, a 72% increase. An additional 7,354 MW of new capacity was under construction by July 1, more than at any time since the third quarter of 2008, the AWEA report noted.

During the second quarter, California installed the most capacity (420 MW), followed by Oregon (201 MW), Illinois (150 MW), Utah (102 MW), and Ohio (56.5 MW) with its first utility-scale wind farm. Also, construction began on the first utility-scale wind farm in Nevada. In terms of total installed capacity, Texas is followed by Iowa, California, Minnesota, Illinois, Washington, and Oregon. Since 2007, wind energy has accounted for 35% of the new installed U.S. electrical generating capacity. See the AWEA press release and the second quarter reportPDF.

A Solar Re-Skin at FedEx Field

If solar power could score a touchdown, this recent news would definitely count.

On July 13, the Washington Redskins announced they are working with NRG Energy, one of America's largest energy companies, to bring renewable energy to the football franchise. This means more than just a few panels on the roof. Through the partnership, NRG will install 8,000 translucent solar panels to cover 850 parking spaces in one of their parking lots. In addition to generating enough energy to run the entire stadium on non-game days, the panels will help protect tailgating fans on those rainy game days.

The project will also bring in 10 electric vehicle charging stations. Even the art will generate electricity, with several sculptures featuring thin solar film technology. And, of course, there will be a plaza featuring renewable energy and clean energy technologies for those fans interested in joining the Redskins as they move toward a clean energy future. See the Energy Blog post.

Site News

DOE Relaunches its Website

DOE announced on August 4 that it has relaunched the website as an interactive information platform offering localized data and resources to save energy and money. The revamped site will save taxpayers more than $10 million annually.

Through a complete overhaul of its front-end and back-end design, modernizes how consumers and businesses access energy information and resources. The new website makes it easier for visitors to get information specific to their cities, counties, and states, including information about energy tax credits, rebates, energy saving tips, and grant opportunities. The new platform uses the latest technologies in information visualization, bringing updated and interactive charts and maps to In the current phase of the relaunch, 11 DOE program offices moved their websites' content to the new platform. Over the next year, DOE will continue to improve by moving more program websites and features to the centralized platform. See the DOE press release and website.

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