Wednesday, September 28, 2011

NEWS and EVENTS by CCRES September 28, 2011


September 28, 2011

News and Events

U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011 Underway

Photo looking down on a large group of people, some holding banners.

Participants in the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon 2011 gather for the event kick-off in Washington, D.C.
Credit: Stefano Paltera, U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon

Teams from Purdue University and Parsons the New School for Design/Stevens Institute of Technology, on September 27, tied for first in the affordability contest of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011. Both teams earned the maximum 100 contest points, which pushed Purdue to the top of the standings. Team Belgium from Ghent University was the runner-up in the contest, which is the first of 10 events in the Solar Decathlon. The first-time challenge rewards teams that build houses with estimated costs at or below $250,000. The competition is on-going on the National Mall's West Potomac Park in Washington, D.C.

Overall, 19 collegiate teams are represented in the showdown to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are affordable, energy efficient, attractive, and easy to live in. Contests are completed at different times. On September 29, a jury will name the winner of the engineering contest based on criteria such as efficiency and innovation. A day later, communications professionals will pick the the team deemed best at educating others about their houses, their experiences, and their projects as winner of the communications contest. The overall winner of the event will be named on October 1, the day before the Solar Decathlon closes.

Competing this year are teams that came from universities in California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Vermont, and Virginia, as well as Belgium, Canada, China, and New Zealand. The Solar Decathlon, launched in 2002 and organized by DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, is free to the public. In addition to educating the public about how to save energy and save money, the Solar Decathlon provides unique training to the nation’s next generation of engineers and architects. Over the last decade, the competition has prepared approximately 15,000 students to become future innovators and entrepreneurs in clean energy technology and efficient building design.

The houses are open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on weekends, and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays. Visitors are able to tour the houses, gather ideas to use in their own homes, and learn how energy-saving features can help them save money. Fans may also follow the competition in real time on Facebook at and Twitter at @Solar_Decathlon. See the DOE press release.

DOE Offers up to $10 Million to Improve Energy-Saving Lighting

DOE announced on September 26 the availability of up to $10 million in funding for energy-saving lighting technologies. DOE will invest in projects to accelerate manufacturing research and development related to solid-state lighting (SSL) technologies. The focus will be on applications that use semiconductors to provide light in such devices as light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs). The goal is to strengthen the United States' position as a global manufacturing leader and help create jobs. LEDs and OLEDs could be ten times more efficient than incandescent bulbs. By 2030, SSL could reduce national lighting electricity use by one-fourth, which would save $15 billion and reduce greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking 21 million cars off the road.

DOE is seeking applications for research and development projects to drive down the cost of, and improve the quality of SSL products through manufacturing improvements. Between two and four projects will be selected to receive up to $10 million, and they will focus on achieving significant cost reductions through improvements in manufacturing equipment, processes, or monitoring techniques. Selected projects will address the technical challenges that must be overcome before SSL can compete with existing lighting on a first-cost basis. This is the third round of funding directed toward the SSL research and development program area, which has been funded with $28.2 million in federal funding and leveraged $36.8 million in funding from the private sector over the course of the program. Applications are due December 15. See the DOE Progress Alert and DOE's Funding Opportunity Exchange website.

DOE Highlights Home Weatherization, Jobs Milestones

Photo looking two workers in a basement with a furnace.

Olaf Sander and Zump Urycki evaluate the heating system of a home as part of the DOE Weatherization Assistance Program.
Credit: Dennis Schroeder, NREL

DOE announced on September 21 that its Weatherization Assistance Program has now made more than 500,000 low-income homes nationwide more energy efficient, using funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The weatherization program is helping families save hundreds of dollars a year on their energy bills, while employing more than 14,000 workers across the country and others throughout the supply chain.

According to a new solar industry report, the solar energy industry has been adding jobs at a faster rate than other sectors during the last two years. The new figures from the nonprofit Solar Foundation showed that the number of workers in the U.S. solar energy industry has more than doubled since 2009, growing from 46,000 workers then to more than 100,000 today. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) also released a report on September 19 that found the demand for U.S. solar photovoltaics grew by nearly 70% from the previous year. See the DOE press release, the Solar Foundation press releasePDF, and the SEIA reportPDF.

Engine and Powertrain Efficiency Projects Get $8.4 Million DOE Boost

DOE announced on September 27 it will award $8.4 million over three to four years for suppliers and vehicle manufacturers to develop and demonstrate technologies that increase the efficiency of engines and powertrain systems. Four projects in Massachusetts, Michigan, and Wisconsin will focus on innovations that achieve breakthrough thermal efficiencies while meeting federal emission standards. The technologies will include passenger vehicles—cars and light trucks—as well as commercial vehicles, including long-haul tractor-trailers. These technologies will help automakers and truck engine manufacturers achieve higher efficiencies than ever before, while meeting or exceeding the recently announced vehicle fuel economy standards intended to help reduce U.S. demand for oil imports and save consumers money at the pump.

The projects will focus on developing and testing new technologies that could reduce cost and address technical barriers currently inhibiting the wider use of advanced engine technologies in the mass market. Projects will also validate technologies developed at the engine or system level to help ensure that these innovations can advance into broad commercial use at the scale needed to reduce vehicle fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions nationally.

Filter Sensing Technologies, Inc. of Cambridge, Massachusetts, will develop and demonstrate low-cost sensors and controls that can reduce the overall cost and complexity of engine and emission control systems. General Motors of Pontiac, Michigan, will focus on a novel technology that enables the use of high dilution in the combustion chamber, significantly improving the fuel economy. Eaton Corporation of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, will work on an advanced component technology for diesel engine heat recovery systems that are capable of improving the fuel economy of heavy-duty vehicles. And, MAHLE Powertrain of Novi, Michigan, will develop a next-generation combined ignition/turbo-charging concept that will enable the implementation of ultra lean-burn technology to engines. See the DOE press release.

Loan Guarantees Finalized for Bio-Refinery, Geothermal, and Wind Projects

DOE announced on September 23 that it had finalized three loan guarantees totaling $625 million in support of a biorefinery in Iowa, a geothermal power project in Nevada, and New Hampshire's largest wind farm.

POET's Project LIBERTY, supported by a $105 million guarantee, will be built in Emmetsburg, Iowa. It is expected to produce up to 25 million gallons of ethanol per year. POET estimates the project will fund approximately 200 construction jobs and 40 permanent jobs. It is also expected to generate about $14 million in new revenue to area farmers who will provide the corn crop residue. The project's innovative process uses enzymes to convert cellulose from corncobs, corn leaves, and corn husks into ethanol. See the DOE press release.

The Nevada project, supported by a $350 million loan guarantee to Ormat Nevada, Inc., is expected to produce up to 113 megawatts of baseload power from three geothermal power facilities. It will increase geothermal power production in Nevada by nearly 25%. The company estimates the project will fund 332 jobs during construction and 64 during operations. The project is expected to avoid nearly 580,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually and produce enough electricity to power nearly 88,000 Nevada homes. See the DOE press release.

The New Hampshire project, using a $168.9 million guarantee to Granite Reliable Power, LLC, will help support a 99-megawatt wind generation project that will be the Granite State's largest wind farm. Project sponsors, BAIF Granite Holdings, LLC and Freshet Wind Energy, LLC, expect the project will fund nearly 200 construction jobs. It is expected to generate enough electricity to power nearly 20,000 homes and avoid more than 124,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually. See the DOE press release.

DOE's Loan Programs Office has issued loans or loan guarantees, or offered conditional commitments for loan guarantees totaling nearly $40 billion to support more than 40 clean energy projects across the United States. See the Loan Programs Office website.

Defense Department Speeds Clean Energy Move: Report

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) is accelerating clean energy innovations to reduce risks to the military, enhance energy security, and save money, according to a report released September 21 by The Pew Charitable Trusts. DOD's clean energy investments increased 300% to $1.2 billion between 2006 and 2009. And the report, From Barracks to the Battlefield: Clean Energy Innovation and America's Armed Forces, projects clean energy spending will reach more than $10 billion annually by 2030.

DOD's priorities for energy efficiency and renewable energy sources have been driven by recent experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, where fuel shipments account for 80% of all supply convoys. The report finds that DOD's major energy challenges include risks associated with transporting liquid fuels to the battlefield, growing oil price volatility, the impact of fuel dependence on operational effectiveness, and compliance with federal energy policies.

The Pew report documents how DOD is helping accelerate the development and deployment of clean energy technologies in three key areas: vehicle efficiency, advanced biofuels, and energy efficiency and renewable energy at bases. DOD spending to harness clean energy technologies for air, land, and sea vehicles is projected to grow to $2.25 billion annually by 2015. The branches of the military are also embracing the use of advanced biofuels. For example, the Air Force intends to use biofuels for 50% of its domestic aviation needs by 2016, and the department is speeding up research and testing of biofuels. And, DOD is looking to improve energy efficiency in its more than 500,000 buildings and structures at 500 major installations around the world. Currently, DOD has 450 ongoing renewable energy projects that are producing or procuring 9.6% of its energy from clean sources in fiscal year 2010. See the Pew press release and the full reportPDF.

Data Center Celebrates 20 Years of Delivering Savings

Many great technology stories have started with just one humble computer and a desk. Twenty years ago, DOE's Alternative Fuel and Advanced Technology Vehicle Data Center (AFDC) started just this way at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. In September 1991, the AFDC began as a telephone hotline and dial-up computer network in response to the Alternative Motor Fuels Act. Although it now hosts more than 20 electronic tools and attracts millions of Web users annually, the AFDC's mission remains the same. It helps local governments, businesses, and members of the public find solutions to reduce their petroleum use in transportation, increasing our environmental, energy, and economic security.

Using the AFDC is like having hundreds of experts at your fingertips. Because the AFDC's data are based on the latest research from the Energy Department's national laboratories, it's a great source of objective, reliable information. For example, a comprehensive chart comparing the attributes of hybrid, plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV), and all-electric vehicles (EVs) includes reliable statistics on fuel economy, emissions, fuel cost savings, and energy security. The charging section of the Center's website helps potential PHEV and EV buyers find out everything they need to know about charging at home, at work, or on the street. Case studies highlight cities that have led the way in getting ready for PHEVs and EVs, helping other regions learn from their success and replicate their efforts. Similar information is available for all of the alternative fuels, including biofuels, natural gas, and propane. See the Energy Blog post.

More info at:


Energy Tips for Business

CCRES Energy Tips for Business

No Cost Tips

These simple steps don't cost a thing, but can potentially save you 10-25% on your monthly energy bill.

  • Keep the thermostat at 78-80 degrees when people are in the building, 85 degrees at night and on weekends during the cooling season. In the heating season, keep the temperature at 68 degrees when people occupy the building, 55-60 degrees at night and on weekends.
  • Turn down the water heater to 120 degrees.
  • Make sure outdoor lighting is turned off during the day.
  • Don't use screen savers - they prevent CPUs and monitors from going into power-saver mode.
  • Make sure equipment is turned off overnight and weekends. Use the energy saving feature on printers, monitors, copiers, and computers if the option is available.
  • Make double-sided copies whenever possible.
  • Allow your workers to wear comfortable clothing during hot weather. It makes little sense to keep a room cold enough that workers must wear suits and coats.
  • To save energy, keep exterior and freight doors closed as much as possible.
  • Make sure that bulbs, fixtures, lenses, lamps and reflective surfaces are cleaned regularly. By removing grease, dust and other dirt, you can increase the output of your lights.
  • Remove under desk space heaters.

Low Cost Tips

There are plenty of low cost, easy to do projects or steps you can do to save another 10-25% on your energy bill.

  • Repair any leaky faucets promptly.
  • Plant trees on south and west sides of the building.
  • Use ceiling fans to keep the air moving. They can make it feel at least four degrees cooler.
  • Install low-flow showerheads in any on-site shower facilities.
  • Faucet aerators should be installed in restrooms.
  • Install low-water-use dishwashing equipment if a cafeteria is located on site.
  • Make sure doors to the outside have enough weather stripping.
  • Caulk windows.
  • Use drapes, shutters, or window film to prevent heat loss and heat gain.
  • Change the furnace filters monthly.
  • Replace existing exit signs with more efficient LED exit signs.
  • Install a programmable thermostat. Consider a locking cover over the thermostat to avoid having employees change temperature settings.
  • Insulate water heaters and supply pipes.
  • If there is a cafeteria in your building, consider replacing broilers with smooth or grooved griddles... your energy consumption will be significantly reduced.
  • Use insulated night covers on display cases.

Added Cost Tips

With the help of a contractor, these steps could potentially save you another 25% on your monthly bill. Remember to do your research before you sign a contract or put down a deposit.

  • Change incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs. Use T-8 fluorescents in overhead lighting.
  • Use electronic ballasts. They increase fluorescent lamp efficiency by up to 25% and increase light output by 10-15%.
  • Install skylights and use less artificial lighting.
  • Make sure there is enough insulation above the ceiling and in the walls.
  • Consider installing double pane or storm windows.
  • Install low-emissivity coatings to windows. Low-e coating is a thin transparent coating of silver or tin oxide on the glass surface or on a suspended plastic film, which lets short-wavelength sunlight pass through, but blocks longer-wavelength heat radiation.
  • Purchase ENERGY STAR®-labeled products. For more information and a list of vendors, visit the Energy Star Web site at:
  • Install occupancy sensors and timers for lighting. Some areas that are used sporadically, such as offices, restrooms, and supply rooms, are good candidates for using sensors or timers. Lights are only on when someone is in the room, reducing unnecessary energy use.
  • Install an air conditioning economizer to bring in outside air when it's cool.
  • Install ground source heat pumps, which transfer heat between the buildings and the ground. Despite the installation costs, they have low operating costs.
More info at :


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Energy Tips

CCRES Energy Tips

No Cost Tips

These simple steps don't cost a thing, but can potentially save you 10-25% on your monthly energy bill.

  • Turn off lights and appliances when not in use. Don't forget your computer. Most new computers have sleep settings.
  • In the cold months, set the thermostat to 68 degrees when home, and then back to 55 - 68 degrees when unoccupied.
  • In the winter, open window coverings on the sunny side of your home to take advantage of free heat from the sun. Close the coverings on cloudy days or right after the sun sets.
  • In warm months, set the thermostat to 78-80 degrees when home and 5 to 10 degrees warmer at night or when you're not home.
  • In the cooling season, close blinds and drapes during the day to keep heat out.
  • Also, use your dishwasher, clothes washer and dryer, and cook as late in the evening as possible.
  • Barbecue outdoors when practical, keeping in mind the heat and effect of sun on your body. Reducing the heat coming into your home from any source, such as cooking, will reduce the load on your air conditioning.
  • Use pool trippers to reduce the time your swimming pool pump runs--eight to twelve hours a day is plenty.
  • Set your water heater to 120 degrees.
  • Close foundation vents in the winter months.
  • Vacuum your refrigerator coils (underneath and in the back) and don't obstruct the coils. They need air space to work.
  • Dress according to the weather.
  • Keep the seals (gaskets) on refrigerators and freezers clean.
  • Keep your freezer as full as possible. You can place containers or plastic bottles filled with water in the empty spaces.
  • Make sure food is cool and covered before it goes into the refrigerator.
  • Run full loads in your washer and dryer, and use "solar drying" (clotheslines).
  • Use energy saver option on your dishwasher, allowing dishes to air dry.
  • If your A/C unit is on the ground, keep the area around it clean and free of obstructions to maintain air flow.
  • Unplug your televisions/VCR when you're on vacation. Most new sets draw power even when they're turned off.
  • Keep lights and lighting fixtures clean, especially if you're reducing the number of lights you use. Dirt absorbs light. Let lights cool before cleaning them and never touch halogen bulbs with your bare hands. The oil from your skin can greatly damage the bulbs. Use a small piece of paper to hold the bulb.
  • If your dishwasher has a filter, keep it clean.
  • Clean the reflectors underneath the burners on stovetops.

Low Cost Tips

There are plenty of low cost, easy to do projects or steps you can do to save another 10-25% on your energy bill.

  • Use compact fluorescent bulbs instead of incandescent ones. This will typically save $1 per bulb changed out (for bulbs running 4-6 hours per day) and reduce heat in your home. Regular bulbs use most of the electricity to generate heat so use care when changing bulbs.
  • Clean furnace system and check ducts for leaks.
  • Caulk windows and caulk and weather-strip doors. Keep the outside air out and the inside air in.
  • Install a hot water heater blanket but be careful not to cover vents or temperature settings.
  • Install hot water pipe insulation. Do keep the insulation at least six inches away from the flue (exhaust pipe) of gas water heaters.
  • Install electrical outlet and switch plate insulation
  • Plant trees and shrubs on the south and west side of your residence. The vegetation acts as insulation and provides shading, reducing thermal gain in a building.
  • Fix leaky faucets and install low-flow showerheads.
  • Use room fans to keep the air moving and reduce the feeling of heat in your home.
  • Replace furnace and air conditioner filters. Spray the filters with a light coating of lemon furniture polish or vegetable oil cooking spray to help trap dirt in the filter.
  • Check the seals on your refrigerator and freezer.
  • Replace normal thermostats with programmable thermostats.
  • Consider buying a cover for your pool to retain heat in the water.

Added Cost Tips

With the help of a contractor, these steps could potentially save you another 25% on your monthly bill. Remember to do your research before you sign a contract or put down a deposit.

  • Install floor and ceiling insulation: It is recommended to have a minimum of an R-30 - R-38 insulation in the attic and R19 insulation in the sub-floor.
  • Replace inefficient and single pane windows with energy efficient multi-pane, thermally-broken, vinyl-framed windows.
  • Energy efficient appliance replacement. All appliances have an Energy Guide Label that tells you how efficient it is and how much it will cost you to run. Often times, an appliance more than 10 years old is not likely to be energy efficient.
  • Servicing your heating and air conditioning systems once a year, replacing them if necessary.
  • Testing and sealing the ductwork. Not only does this improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling system, it makes the house more comfortable.
  • Have ceiling fans installed in all bedrooms and your family room. They can make you more comfortable while allowing you to save money by adjusting your thermostat respectively.
  • Add window screens or window films to reduce the solar energy from entering your home.
  • Adding a solar heater for the water in your swimming pool.
  • your furnace is over 10 years old, replace with a 90%, or greater AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) rated unit.
More info at :


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

NEWS and EVENTS by CCRES September 21, 2011


September 21, 2011

News and Events

U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011 Set to Begin

Photo of construction on a lawn near the National Mall with Arlington, Virginia,in the background.

Solar homes for the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon 2011 are being assembled in Washington, D.C.
Credit: Stefano Paltera, U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011 is taking shape as teams work around the clock to assemble 19 solar homes on the National Mall's West Potomac Park in Washington, D.C., in time for the 10 a.m. September 23 opening. The Solar Decathlon is an international DOE competition that offers university teams a chance to design and build homes that run entirely on solar energy. Teams ship their structures to the site, assemble them, and then compete in ten contests. The biennial event, launched in 2002 and organized by DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, is free to the public. The Decathlon runs through October 2. See the kick-off Energy Blog post and the Solar Decathlon website.

This year, 19 teams came from universities in California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Vermont, and Virginia, as well as Belgium, Canada, China, and New Zealand. For this sixth running of the Solar Decathlon, each home will once again be monitored for its performance in five areas relating to performance and livability: comfort (maintaining comfortable temperature and humidity in the home), hot water (producing a sufficient quantity for washing and bathing), appliances (such as keeping refrigerated items at the right temperature), home entertainment (running lights, computers, and other devices), and energy balance. For the energy balance portion, homes must even out energy consumption and generation so that they use zero net energy over the course of a week. Other contests use experts to rate the teams for their communications with the public, as well as the affordability, architecture, engineering, and market appeal of their homes. The winner of the competition, to be announced on October 1, is the team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency. See the list of contests.

In 2009, the Solar Decathlon provided 307,502 house visits to the public over 10 days on the National Mall, while offering 32 public workshops onsite and holding a dedicated day of workshops for builders and industry professionals. The event also partnered with the National Education Association, which broadcasted daily educational programming to classrooms around the nation. In its new location in West Potomac Park, the Solar Decathlon is scheduled to be open 10 a.m.–2 p.m. EDT on weekdays, and from 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m. EDT on weekends. See 2009 Solar Decathlon coverage in EERE Network News.

Installed Cost of Solar PV Systems in the U.S. Declined: DOE Lab Report

Photo of a house with solar panels.

The cost of installing solar photovoltaic systems like this one declined in 2010 and the first half of 2011, an LBNL report says.
Credit: LBNL

The installed cost of solar photovoltaic (PV) power systems in the United States fell substantially in 2010 and into the first half of 2011, according to a report released on September 15 by DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL). The average installed cost of residential and commercial PV systems completed in 2010 fell by roughly 17% from 2009, and by an additional 11% within the first six months of 2011. The reductions reflect the drop in both the cost of PV modules as well as non-module costs such as installation labor, marketing, overhead, inverters, and the balance of systems. According to the report, "Tracking the Sun IV: An Historical Summary of the Installed Cost of Photovoltaics in the United States from 1998 to 2010," average non-module costs for residential and commercial systems declined by roughly 18% from 2009 to 2010.

Regarding utility-sector PV, costs varied widely for systems installed in 2010, with the cost of systems greater than 5,000 kilowatts (kW) ranging from $2.90 per Watt (W) to $6.20/W, reflecting differences in project size and system configuration. Consistent with continued cost reductions, current benchmarks for the installed cost of prototypical, large utility-scale PV projects generally range from $3.80/W to $4.40/W. The study, which examined more than 115,000 residential, commercial, and utility-sector PV systems installed between 1998 and 2010 across 42 states, describes trends in the installed cost of PV in the United States.

The study also highlights differences in installed costs by region and by system size and installation type. Across states, for example, the average cost of PV systems installed in 2010 that were less than 10 kW ranged from $6.30/W to $8.40/W depending on the state. The report also found that residential PV systems installed on new homes had significantly lower average installed costs than did those installed as retrofits to existing homes. The LBNL noted that the average size of direct cash incentives provided through state and utility PV incentive programs has declined steadily since their peak in 2002. The research was supported by funding from DOE and the Clean Energy States Alliance, a national nonprofit coalition of leading state clean energy programs. See the LBNL press release and the reportPDF.

DOE-Backed Advanced Batteries Plant Opens in Florida

DOE and Saft America celebrated the September 16 grand opening of the company's advanced lithium-ion battery factory in Jacksonville, Florida. The batteries will power electric vehicles (EV). The factory, which is supported partly by DOE investments, is expected to produce 370 megawatt hours of battery power per year, enough to supply more than 37,000 electric-drive vehicles. Saft said the project has created or preserved an estimated 300 construction jobs.

Saft America Incorporated's Industrial Battery Group won a $95.5 million DOE grant under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009 and provided an additional $95.5 million in cost share to build the new 235,000-square-foot battery factory. The facility is capable of manufacturing high quantities of lithium-ion cells, modules, and batteries. The project is part of the Recovery Act's $2 billion investments in battery and electric drive component manufacturing, supporting 20 battery and 10 component-manufacturing factories. At full scale, these investments will support factories with the capacity to supply more than 500,000 electric drive vehicles. These factories are helping build a domestic electric-drive vehicle industry, and by the end of 2012, it is estimated that the United States could produce 20% of the world's advanced vehicle batteries. These factories are also lowering costs and could cut the cost in half by 2013. See the DOE press release.

USDA Boosts Smart Grid, Transmission System Improvements in 14 States

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on August 29 that rural electric cooperative utilities will receive funding for Smart Grid technologies and improvements to generation and transmission facilities. The $900 million in loans are provided by USDA Rural Development's Rural Utilities Service, and they will benefit more than 19,000 rural consumers in 14 states.

Among the rural electric cooperative utilities that will receive funding are Hoosier Energy Rural Electric Cooperative, Inc., which serves Indiana and parts of Illinois. Hoosier received a $462.5 million loan to fund system projects to improve reliability and comply with environmental requirements. The loan will also finance Smart Grid technologies and transmission line improvements. Also, Northeast Oklahoma Electric Cooperative, Inc. received a $23.5 million loan to build or improve nearly 250 miles of distribution line and to make other system improvements. The loan includes $1.2 million for automated metering. See the USDA press release for a list of rural utilities that were selected to receive funding, which is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan agreement.

Innovation Ecosystems Spur Rapid Growth for Startups, Entrepreneurs

Startups are engines of job creation. It is entrepreneurs in innovative fields like clean energy who will build the new industries of the 21st century. To accelerate high-growth entrepreneurship across the nation and move cutting-edge clean energy technologies from the lab to the marketplace, DOE launched the Innovation Ecosystem Initiative a year ago.

As part of this initiative, five projects led by universities and nonprofits in five distinct geographic regions across the United States were awarded a total of $5.3 million over three years to encourage rapid market penetration of innovative clean energy research and development activities. One of the selected projects leading the way is Clean Energy Trust. The Chicago-based nonprofit connects entrepreneurs, researchers, and early stage clean energy businesses across the Midwest with expertise and capital. See the Energy Blog post.

Green Racing Marks Its 25th Competition

The Green Racing program, a motorsports competition geared toward raising awareness of fuel efficiency, alternative fuels and advanced vehicle technologies, hit a major milestone as the state of Wisconsin played host to the 25th race in the Michelin Green X Challenge. It was the latest in a series of American Le Mans Series (ALMS) races in which teams are rewarded not only for the speed in which they complete the race but also for the efficiency and emissions reduction that their vehicles display.

The 25th challenge occurred on August 17 at the Wisconsin Road Race Showcase. The results were tremendous, with vehicles using 48% less petroleum-based fuel than conventional racecars—a new record for Green Racing. The race itself hit near-record television viewership with more than 900,000 households watching, raising awareness of clean alternative fuels across the country.

The celebration continued in Washington, D.C., with a National Press Club event and vehicle display, at which DOE's Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency Kathleen Hogan spoke about the Department's role in Green Racing, along with leaders from EPA, ALMS, General Motors, Mazda, and Highcroft Racing. Participants were treated to an impressive vehicle display, including a Dyson Racing Mazda Lola that runs on isobutanol (a liquid alcohol similar to ethanol) and a Chevrolet Corvette Racing C6.R that runs on cellulosic ethanol. The Green Racing Simulator, created by DOE and DOE's Argonne National Laboratory, also allowed attendees to learn about alternative fuels and advanced technologies while playing a high-energy racing game. See the Energy Blog post.

GovEnergy 2011 Offers Energy Professionals Strategies for Reducing Energy Use

As President Obama has said, we in the federal government are the largest energy consumer in the United States, and as such, we have "a responsibility to American citizens to reduce our energy use and become more efficient. Our goal is to lower costs, reduce pollution, and shift federal energy expenses away from oil and towards local, clean energy."

That's why over 4,000 federal, private sector, and military energy professionals participated in GovEnergy last month in August—an annual trade show held in Cincinnati, Ohio, cosponsored by DOE along with several other government agencies. Reflecting the Administration's priority of government playing a lead role in securing a cleaner, safer, more secure energy future, the conference is designed to help federal employees meet their sustainability, energy security, and energy assurance goals for federal facilities. See the Energy Blog post.

More info at


Sunday, September 18, 2011

NEWS and EVENTS by CCRES September 19, 2011


September 19, 2011

News and Events

Rooftop Solar Power for U.S. Military Housing Supported by DOE

Photo of two workers on a roof with a solar panel.

A new program will increase solar energy installations on military housing.
Credit: Craig Miller Productions

DOE announced on September 7 its offer of a conditional commitment for a partial guarantee of a $344 million loan that will support Project SolarStrong, which will install up to 160,000 rooftop solar installations on as many as 124 military bases in up to 33 states. The project is expected to be a record expansion of residential rooftop solar power in the United States. Under the project, SolarCity Corporation will install, own, and operate the photovoltaic (PV) systems. SolarCity expects the project to fund approximately 750 construction jobs over five years and 28 full-time operating jobs. Many of the jobs are expected to be filled by U.S. veterans and military family members, who will be recruited, trained, and employed to install, operate, and maintain the PV systems.

The project, which could create up to 371 megawatts of new solar capacity, includes the installation of residential rooftop PV systems on existing privatized military family residences and other privatized buildings, such as community centers, administrative offices, maintenance buildings, and storage warehouses. The project will provide low-cost renewable electricity to privatized military housing. It is expected to avoid more than 250,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually. SolarStrong will have the added benefit of helping the Department of Defense, the single-largest energy consumer in the United States, secure its energy needs from domestic renewable sources that are independent from the utility grid, at no additional cost to taxpayers. DOD has a stated goal that 25% of all energy consumed by 2025 shall be supplied by renewable sources.

Project SolarStrong will be rolled out over five years, starting with a four-megawatt installation at Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii, with construction now underway. SolarStrong is expected to sell electricity produced from the installations. DOE's Loan Programs Office has issued loans, loan guarantees or offered conditional commitments for loan guarantees totaling nearly $40 billion to support more than 40 clean energy projects across the United States. See the DOE press release and the Loan Programs website.

DOE Awards $43 Million to Spur Offshore Wind Energy

DOE announced on September 8 that it will award $43 million over the next five years to speed technical innovations, lower costs, and shorten the timeline for deploying offshore wind energy systems. The 41 funded projects across 20 states will advance wind turbine design tools and hardware, improve information about U.S. offshore wind resources, and reduce market barriers related to supply chain development, transmission, and infrastructure. The awards will help the United States compete in the global wind energy manufacturing sector while promoting economic development and job creation. Funding is subject to congressional appropriations.

Some projects will focus on three technical approaches to advancing offshore technology. Certain projects will advance the current state-of-the-art modeling and analysis tools for the design, performance assessment, system modeling, and cost assessment of offshore wind systems. Offshore wind system design studies will develop conceptual designs and assessments of offshore wind plant systems that enhance energy capture, improve performance and reliability, and reduce the cost of energy from integrated wind plant systems. And other projects will support the research and development of innovative rotor and control systems designs for advanced components and integrated systems to reduce capital costs of these systems by up to 50%.

Additional projects will focus on seven approaches to removing market barriers to offshore wind energy deployment. An offshore wind market and economic analysis will seek to reduce financing costs and increase investor confidence by supporting offshore wind market analysis to inform stakeholder decision-making regarding individual projects, industry issues, and energy policy. Also, three projects will work to expedite the permitting process by performing ecological studies and predictive modeling and validating innovative technologies for avian and bat studies. Another project will assess the current domestic supply chain infrastructure and recommend strategies for national manufacturing infrastructure development to support offshore wind deployment. Four projects will study the integration of offshore wind energy into the grid. Four projects will assess ports, vessels, and operations that will be involved with offshore wind energy efforts. And, eight projects will develop an accessible network of information on subjects including U.S. offshore wind resources, design requirements for offshore wind turbines, and environmental conditions affecting offshore wind energy systems. Finally, one project will evaluate the potential effects of offshore wind energy facilities on electronic navigation, detection, or communication equipment such as airborne radar, global positioning systems (GPS), shipboard radios, and SONAR. See the EERE press release, the list of winners, and the DOE Wind Power website.

Geothermal Energy Advanced by DOE's $38 Million Backing

DOE announced on September 8 that it will award $38 million over three years for projects to accelerate the development of promising geothermal energy technologies. Thirty-two innovative projects in 14 states will develop and test new ways to locate geothermal resources and improve resource characterization, drilling, and reservoir engineering techniques. These advances will play an important role in achieving President Obama's goal of generating 80% of U.S. electricity from clean energy sources by 2035.

This investment in clean energy development is part of DOE's comprehensive effort to reduce the cost of geothermal energy, making it more competitive with conventional sources of baseload electricity. Projects will perform feasibility studies before advancing to prototyping and validation, which will be conducted through laboratory-based research and field-testing. The selected projects will support DOE's goals of lowering the cost and financial risk associated with confirming and characterizing geothermal resources and will help overcome key technical challenges to reservoir creation and the sustainability of enhanced geothermal systems. For example, DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will predict changes in fluid flow through fractures and will improve current methods of estimating geothermal reservoir temperatures to enable subsurface imaging and reduce exploration costs. And, Impact Technologies of Tulsa, Oklahoma, will examine the feasibility of employing intense radiation technology to drill and seal off the walls of geothermal wells in order to reduce drilling costs. See the DOE press release and the Geothermal Technologies Program website.

DOE Awards more than $30 Million to Train Energy Efficiency Students

DOE announced on September 13 awards of more than $30 million for 24 universities in 23 states to train undergraduate- and graduate-level engineering students in manufacturing energy efficiency. Each school will receive $200,000 to $300,000 per year for up to five years to help university teams to gain training on core energy management concepts through DOE's Industrial Assessment Center program. The program enables promising engineering students around the country to conduct energy assessments in a broad range of manufacturing facilities, providing skills and experience that prepares the students while helping local companies and factories to reduce energy waste.

Through these university-based centers, engineering students will receive extensive training in industrial processes, energy assessment procedures, and energy management principles, which will be put to use working directly with small and medium-sized facilities in the surrounding communities. Under the program, each Industrial Assessment Center will be expected to train at least 10 to 15 students per year and conduct approximately 20 energy assessments annually. In addition, each center will be expected to promote interaction with private sector partners. See the DOE press release and the list of award winners.

DOE Promotes Electric Vehicles in 24 States, D.C.

Photo of a sleek car.

Owners of electric vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf should benefit from a DOE program designed to boost EV use.
Credit: Nissan

DOE announced on September 8 that 16 projects will support activities in 24 states and the District of Columbia to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) in communities across the nation. Seven additional projects in seven states will help prepare college students for careers designing and building advanced vehicle technologies.

DOE's Clean Cities initiative, which builds partnerships to reduce petroleum use in transportation, will award $8.5 million to communities that will boost community planning for plug-in EVs and charging infrastructure. Funding recipients range from communities with extensive EV planning experience to those that are eager to begin but lack the resources to do so. These one-year projects will help communities address their specific needs, which include updating permitting processes, revising codes, training municipal personnel, promoting public awareness, or developing incentives, and each project will create a plan that will be publicly available so that other stakeholders can learn best practices. See DOE press release, the list of Clean Cities' award winners, and the Clean Cities website.

DOE's Graduate Automotive Technology Education (GATE) initiative will award $6.4 million over the course of five years to support seven centers of excellence at American colleges, universities, and university-affiliated research institutions. The awardees will focus on three critical automotive technology areas: hybrid propulsion, energy storage, and lightweight materials. By funding curriculum development and expansion as well as laboratory work, GATE allows higher education institutions to develop multidisciplinary training. As a result, GATE promotes the development of a skilled workforce of engineering professionals who will overcome technical barriers and help commercialize the next generation of advanced automotive technologies. For example, Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, will comprehensively train, educate, and equip the next generation of research scientists and engineers to address technical challenges and respond to opportunities unique to medium- and heavy-duty hybrid vehicles. See the list of GATE winners and the GATE website.

California Solar Power Plant Backed by $1.2 Billion DOE Loan Guarantee

DOE announced on September 13 that it had finalized a $1.2 billion loan guarantee to Mojave Solar LLC for the development of the Mojave Solar Project in California. When complete, the 250-megawatt solar generation project in San Bernardino County will increase the nation's currently installed concentrating solar power (CSP) capacity by about 50%. Abengoa Solar Inc., the project sponsor, estimates it will fund more than 900 construction and permanent operations jobs.

The project will be the first U.S. utility-scale deployment of Abengoa's latest solar collector assembly, a significant improvement over the prior generation of solar concentrating technology installed in the United States in the 1980s and 1990s. The collector, which was originally developed in connection with an award from the DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, has a number of advanced features, including a lighter, stronger frame designed to hold parabolic mirrors that are easier and less expensive to build and install. The new heat collection element increases thermal efficiency by up to 30% over first generation CSP plants. The Mojave Solar Project will avoid more than 350,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually and is anticipated to generate enough electricity to power more than 54,000 homes. See the DOE press release.

Solar Manufacturer Gets $150 Million DOE Loan Guarantee

DOE finalized on September 8 a $150 million loan guarantee to 1366 Technologies, Inc. for the development of a multicrystalline wafer manufacturing project that could significantly drive down the costs of solar manufacturing. The project will be able to produce approximately 700 to 1,000 megawatts of silicon-based wafers annually using a manufacturing process called Direct Wafer. The innovative process could reduce wafer-manufacturing costs by approximately 50%, dramatically cutting the cost of solar power. The first phase of the project will be located in Lexington, Massachusetts and is expected to fund 70 permanent jobs and 50 construction jobs. The company is evaluating site locations for another planned phase, which they anticipate will fund hundreds of additional jobs.

The original development of the company's Direct Wafer technology was supported with a $4 million grant from DOE's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy program and a $3 million grant from DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. The innovative manufacturing process reduces four separate manufacturing steps into a single, low-cost continuous process and greatly reduces silicon waste by forming individual wafers directly from a bath of molten silicon. A thin sheet of silicon freezes inside the direct wafer furnace and is then removed and laser-trimmed to size. At full production, the entire wafer formation process is completed in just 25 seconds while conventional batch processing can take up to three days. See the DOE press release and the DOE Loan Programs Office website.

DOE Finalizes $90.6 Million Loan Guarantee for Colorado Solar Project

DOE announced on September 9 that it finalized a $90.6 million loan guarantee to Cogentrix of Alamosa, LLC. The loan guarantee will support the Alamosa Solar Generating Project, a 30-megawatt high-concentration photovoltaic (HCPV) power generation facility. Located in south-central Colorado near the city of Alamosa, it represents one of the first utility-scale, HCPV energy generation facilities in the nation. Cogentrix estimates the project will support up to 100 construction jobs.

The proposed facility will use innovative HCPV systems consisting of concentrating optics and multi-junction solar cell panels that are controlled by a dual-axis tracking system. The tracking system rotates and tilts the cells throughout the day so the surface of the solar panel maintains an optimal angle with respect to the sun. Cogentrix estimates the multi-junction solar cells are nearly 40% efficient, which is about double that of more traditional PV panels, making concentrated photovoltaic technology advantageous in areas with high amounts of direct sunlight, such as south-central Colorado. The facility is expected to produce enough clean renewable energy each year to power more than 6,500 homes, and it will avoid the emissions of more than 43,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. See the DOE press release.

Questions for a Nanoscientist

Seth Darling is a scientist at DOE's Argonne National Laboratory's Center for Nanoscale Materials. He builds new materials for solar energy, with the aim of creating cheaper and more efficient solar cells.

Question: How did you first get interested in science?

Seth Darling: I can't remember back that far. I've been interested in science as long as I can remember. Yeah, all the way back to elementary school—I was certain I was going to be a scientist at that point. Chemistry was the plan for many years; all the way up even into college I was planning to do chemistry. And, now I do something that uses chemistry but is really chemistry and physics and materials science and nanoscience and all kinds of stuff all rolled up together.

Q: What do you like about that?

SD: It's fun because you get to work with a very diverse group of scientists. Postdocs who work with me have degrees in electrical engineering and chemistry and material science. So it's fun because you can really look at the interfaces between these different disciplines, which is where most of the interesting stuff is going on. It's also very challenging because there's just no way you can be an expert on all of those simultaneously, and so you always feel a little bit like you're at the edge of your understanding. Which is challenging, but it's also fun—you get to learn lots of new stuff all the time.

Q: What projects are you working on now?

SD: Most of what I'm working on now revolves around solar energy—photovoltaics, specifically. What we're interested in are organic photovoltaics and photovoltaics that involve organic materials that might also involve inorganic materials—hybrids. We're interested in those because they're significantly lower-cost than current solar energy technologies, but right now the efficiencies are not high enough to be truly commercially relevant. So we're doing the basic science to understand where the efficiency losses are, and how can they be improved. These are basic science questions, but are also very much geared towards the applied side—ultimately pushing commercial industry towards organic photovoltaics. That's where most of our work lies.

To read the rest of the interview, see the Energy Blog post.

DOE Awards More Than $145 Million for Advanced Solar Technologies

DOE announced on September 1 that it has awarded more than $145 million for projects to help shape the next generation of solar energy technologies as part of its SunShot Initiative. Sixty-nine projects in 24 states will accelerate research and development to increase efficiency, lower costs, and advance cutting-edge technologies. The projects will also improve materials, manufacturing processes, and supply chains for a wide range of photovoltaic (PV) solar cells and components of solar energy systems. Some of these investments also support efforts that will shorten the overall timeline from prototype to production and streamline building codes, zoning laws, permitting rules, and business processes for installing solar energy systems.

Projects are in six general categories. Projects in the Extreme Balance of System Hardware Cost Reductions category will include research and development of new balance of system hardware, or solar system components including power inverters and mounting racks (but not solar panels or cells). For example, Amonix of Seal Beach, California, will develop new dual-axis tracking systems specifically for concentrating PV systems. Project in the Foundational Program to Advance Cell Efficiency category will combine both DOE and National Science Foundation resources in a joint program that aims to eliminate the significant gap between the efficiencies of prototype cells achieved in the laboratory and the efficiencies of cells produced on manufacturing lines. Solar Energy Grid Integration Systems—Advanced Concepts projects will develop electronics and build smarter, more interactive systems and components so that solar energy can be integrated into the grid at higher levels.

Transformational PV Science and Technology—Next Generation Photovoltaics II projects will fund applied research into technologies that greatly increase efficiency, lower costs, create secure and sustainable supply chains and perform more reliably than the current PV technologies. The Reducing Market Barriers and Non-Hardware Balance-of-System Costs category awards will provide funding to create tools and will develop methods to reduce the cost of non-hardware components for installed solar energy systems. And, the SunShot Incubator will fund two tiers of transformational projects for projects in California and Vermont. The first accelerates development of new technologies from concept to commercial viability. The second level of funding supports efforts that shorten the overall timeline from laboratory-scale development to pilot-line manufacture. For example, Halotechnics, in Emeryville, California, will develop a thermal energy storage system operating at 700°C using a new high-stability, low-melting-point molten salt as the heat transfer and thermal storage material for concentrating solar power applications. The SunShot Incubator program is an expansion of DOE's PV Technology Incubator program, launched in 2007, which to date has funded $60 million in projects that have been leveraged into $1.3 billion in private investment.

The SunShot Initiative seeks to make solar energy systems more cost-competitive, without long-term subsidies, by reducing the cost of these systems about 75 percent by the end of the decade. Achievement of the SunShot Initiative goals will encourage rapid, widespread adoption of solar energy systems across the United States. See the DOE press release, the awards by statePDF, the awards by categoryPDF, and the SunShot Initiative website.

DOE Awards up to $12 Million to Support Drop-In Biofuels

DOE announced on August 31 that it would invest up to $12 million to fund three small-scale drop-in biofuels projects in Illinois, North Carolina, and Wisconsin. Drop-in biofuels are fuels that can supplement or directly replace existing gasoline, diesel, and jet fuels. The projects seek to accelerate research and development that will lead the way toward affordable, clean alternatives to fossil fuels and will diversify our nation's energy portfolio.

Using innovative thermochemical processes, the projects will help improve the economics and efficiency of turning biomass into biofuels and other products. These processes use heat and catalysts to convert biomass, in a controlled industrial environment, into liquid and gaseous intermediates that can then be chemically converted into fuels and other products. The funding further diversifies DOE's research and development portfolio in a breadth of fuels and chemicals derived from domestic cellulosic biomass, such as grasses, wood, and agricultural residue.

Selected recipients include LanzaTech of Roselle, Illinois, which will develop a cost-effective technology that converts biomass-derived ethanol into jet fuel using catalysts, thus driving down fuel cost; the Research Triangle Institute of Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, which will integrate a thermochemical process that produces a bio-crude intermediate from biomass with a hydroprocessing technology that upgrades the bio-crude into gasoline and diesel; and Virent Energy Systems, Inc. of Madison, Wisconsin, which will convert biomass into oxygenated chemical intermediates using an innovative thermochemical technology and will then upgrade the intermediates to a hydrocarbon. See the DOE press release and the DOE Biomass Program website.

DOE, USDA, and U.S. Navy Seek Input from Industry to Advance Biofuels

DOE, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the U.S. Navy jointly announced on August 30 the next step in the creation of a public-private partnership to develop drop-in advanced biofuels. Drop-in biofuels are fuels that can supplement or directly replace existing gasoline, diesel, and jet fuels. The agencies issued a request for information (RFI) that lays out the Obama administration's goals. It seeks specific ideas from industry about how to leverage private capital markets to establish a commercially viable industry for biofuels that can replace other fuels. The information will help accelerate the development and use of biofuels.

On August 16, the three departments announced private sector investments of up to $510 million during the next three years to produce advanced drop-in aviation and marine biofuels. The main objective of this government-industry partnership is the construction or retrofit of several domestic advanced drop-in biofuel refineries at either commercial or pre-commercial scale. These facilities will produce drop-in advanced biofuels meeting military specifications, will be located in geographically diverse locations for ready market access, and will have no significant impact on the supply of agricultural food commodities. Responses to the RFI are due on September 30. See the DOE press release and the RFI Web page.

DOE, Interior Award Nearly $17 Million for Advanced Hydropower

DOE and the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) announced on September 6 that they had awarded nearly $17 million in funding over the next three years for research and development projects to advance hydropower technology. Sixteen projects in 11 states were selected through a competitive grant process for their ability to contribute to the development of innovative technologies that produce hydropower more efficiently, reduce costs, and increase sustainable hydropower generation.

These projects will advance sustainable renewable energy generation from small (less than 30 megawatts) hydropower resources. They will also enhance the environmental performance of hydropower, test innovative technologies for hydropower development at low-head (less than a 30 foot drop) sites such as irrigation canals and non-powered dams, and spur deployment of pumped storage hydropower. By allowing utility operators to pump water up to a dam or impoundment during periods of low electricity demand and release water during times of peak electricity demand, pumped storage hydropower improves the reliability of electric grids and helps increase the use of variable renewable energy resources such as wind and solar power.

The selections announced focus on four approaches to advancing hydropower in the United States. Sustainable Small Hydropower will research, develop, and test low-head, small hydropower technologies that can be quickly and efficiently deployed at existing non-powered dams or constructed waterways. Sustainable Pumped Storage Hydropower projects will spur deployment of advanced pumped storage hydropower in the United States. Environmental Mitigation Technologies for Conventional Hydropower will include projects designed to develop innovative hydropower technologies that will enhance environmental performance while increasing electricity generation. And Advanced Hydropower System Testing at a DOI Bureau of Reclamation Facility will support system tests of innovative, low-head, small hydropower technologies at a non-powered site owned by the Bureau of Reclamation. Energy cost reductions demonstrated at this site could be replicated at other Bureau of Reclamation sites. See the DOE press release and the full list of award winners.

ASES National Solar Tour Shines on

Photo of people entering a house which has solar panels on the roof.

Local tours of solar houses are being offered throughout the United States on or about October 1.
Credit: MSB Energy Associates

Solar energy will shine as the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) hosts its 16th annual ASES National Solar Tour on October 1. The nonprofit association of solar energy professionals and advocates bills the event as the world's largest grassroots solar event. This year, it and its partner organizations will coordinate tours of innovative green homes and buildings that are scheduled in 35 states on or around October 1. ASES estimates that more than 160,000 participants will visit some 5,500 buildings in 3,200 communities across the United States as part of the tour.

For example, in Washington, D.C., tour organizers have arranged to have more than 100 solar and energy efficient homes on a self-guided tour during two days, October 2 and 3. The homeowners, architects, builders, and others will answer questions. Some tours, such as the 3rd Annual Middle TN Solar Tour near Nashville, Tennessee, will take place on another weekend. The Tennessee tour is on October 8. See the ASES Tour website for the dates, fees, and registration requirements for various tours.

Alternative Vehicle Initiatives Rev Up at Ford, General Motors

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

Ford and GM are planning to add new alternative fuel vehicles to their existing fleets. The GM fleet currently includes the Chevrolet Volt, shown here with a replica of its battery pack.
Credit: GM Corp.

The Ford Motor Company and General Motors (GM) will pursue separate new initiatives to further develop their respective alternative vehicles. Ford announced on August 22 that it will collaborate equally with Toyota Motor Corporation on an advanced new hybrid system for light trucks and SUVs. Then, GM announced on August 25 that it will team with Korea-based industrial LG Group to jointly design and engineer future electric vehicles LG is a battery cell supplier for the extended-range electric vehicle (EV) Chevrolet Volt.

The Ford-Toyota partnership will focus on a hybrid powertrain for greater fuel efficiency to a new group of truck and SUV customers. The system could be ready for use later this decade on rear-wheel drive vehicles. The carmakers will independently integrate the new hybrid system in their future vehicles. See the Ford press release.

GM expects to expand the number and types of EVs it makes and sells by using LG's proven expertise in batteries and other systems. Teams of GM and LG engineers will work on key components, as well as vehicle structures and architectures. Vehicles resulting from the partnership will be sold in many countries. See the GM press release.

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