CROATIAN CENTER of RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES
November 16, 2011
The University of Central Florida won the EPA National Building Contest by cutting energy use 63% in one year at a campus parking garage.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on November 2 that the University of Central Florida is the winner of EPA's 2011 Energy Star National Building Competition: Battle of the Buildings. In its second year, the competition featured teams from across the country, 245 buildings, in a head-to-head battle to save energy, reduce costs, and protect people's health and the environment. The winning building was a main-campus parking garage where energy use was decreased by 63.2% over 12 months from September 1, 2010, through August 31, 2011. This year's pool of competitors was nearly 18 times as large as the first field and covered 33 states and the District of Columbia. Energy Star is a joint program of DOE and EPA.
From improvements in operations and maintenance to upgrades in equipment and technology, the competitors saved more than 240 million kBtus of energy and $5.2 million on utility bills annually. Competitors reduced annual greenhouse gas emissions equal to the electricity used by more than 3,600 homes. Buildings ranged from structures more than 100 years old to ones built in the past three years. Competitors tracked their building's monthly energy consumption using EPA's Energy Star online energy tracking tool, Portfolio Manager.
The University of Central Florida (UCF) focused their efforts on improving the quality and efficiency of the garage lighting. Improvements included upgrading the main garage to high performance fluorescent lights, retrofitting the top deck with light emitting diode fixtures, and adding motion sensors in storage areas. In addition to cutting their energy use, UCF reduced their lighting bill for the parking garage by more than half due to improvements made during the competition. UCF is now spreading their successful strategies, as well as savings, to other buildings across the campus. See the EPA press release and the Battle of the Buildings website.
USDA is supporting various renewable energy sources including wind energy.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on November 10 that it had funded 67 projects nationwide to provide renewable energy assessments. Those projects focus on helping rural agricultural producers reduce energy consumption, use renewable energy technologies, and conduct feasibility studies for renewable energy projects. Funding is made available through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). And on November 9, the agency announced that it is supporting projects to harness wind, solar, geothermal, and hydroelectric power to reduce energy costs for farms and small business across the rural United States.
USDA awarded more than $2.4 million in grants for energy assessments and more than $1.2 million to support feasibility study projects in 28 states and Puerto Rico. For example, USDA picked the West Virginia Division of Energy to receive funding to complete 130 energy assessments for rural small businesses to help them reduce energy use and operating costs. And Boise State University is receiving a grant to offer energy savings information and energy assessments to more than 1,500 manufacturing-related agricultural producers and small business in Idaho. See the USDA press release and the REAP website.
USDA funding for renewable energy projects made through REAP is contingent on the recipient meeting the conditions of the grant or loan agreement. REAP grants can finance up to 25 % of a project's cost, up to $500,000 for renewable energy systems and $250,000 for energy efficiency improvements. Projects are in 16 states. For example, USDA will assist Hawkeye Tri-County Electric Cooperative in Cresco, Iowa, to install a geothermal heating and cooling system in its headquarters building. And, Putnam Green Power in Connecticut will get a grant for hydroelectric power. See the USDA press release.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) launched its 2011 edition of the World Energy Outlook (WEO) on November 9 with the report projecting a rise in renewables from 13% of the energy mix to 18% worldwide by 2035. However, the agency's flagship publication noted that such growth in renewables would rely on subsidies that rise from $64 billion in 2010 to $250 billion in 2035, a premise that is uncertain in times of tight governmental budgets.
In the WEO's central New Policies Scenario, which assumes that recent government commitments are implemented cautiously, primary energy demand increases by one-third between 2010 and 2035, with 90% of the growth in economies outside of the 34-member Oganisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Two of the non-OECD countries, China and India, will account for 50% of the growth. The report projects that China will consolidate its position as the world's largest energy consumer, using nearly 70% more energy than the United States does by 2035. In the New Policies Scenario, cumulative carbon dioxide emissions over the next 25 years amount to three-quarters of the total from the past 110 years, which could lead to a long-term average temperature rise of 3.5°C. China's per-capita emissions could match the OECD average in 2035. The authors warned that if new efficiency policies are not implemented, the world could track to an increase of 6°C. See the IEA press release and the World Energy Outlook website.
The Environment California Research & Policy Center has released a new report documenting that California has installed more than 1 gigawatt of rooftop solar power. To put that figure in perspective, only five other countries worldwide have achieved that amount of rooftop solar power. The study also notes that the state's Million Solar Roofs initiative is on pace to meet its goal of installing its legislatively mandated 3 gigawatts of solar capacity by 2016.
The 2006 Million Solar Roofs Bill was the first unified state effort to turn solar power into a commonplace and affordable energy resource. The law established a 10-year, statewide interagency effort, now called the Go Solar California campaign, which includes programs that fund solar projects on homes, commercial businesses, farms, as well as government and non-profit buildings. More than 100,000 rooftop photovoltaic (PV) systems have been installed since the program began. Since the first solar panels under the Million Solar Roofs Initiative were connected to the grid in 2007, California has installed nearly 800 megawatts (MW) of solar photovoltaic power, the equivalent of powering 600,000 single family homes.
The potential for solar power looks bright in the Golden State. According to estimates by DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the state could host more than 80,000 MW of rooftop solar capacity, which could generate more than a third as much electricity as California uses in a year. Findings are contained in the first analysis of the state's solar incentive program, "Building a Brighter Future." See the Environment California Research & Policy Center press release and the Building a Brighter Future report .
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CROATIAN CENTER of RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES (CCRES)