Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources
February 01, 2012
President Obama called for clean energy tax credits and a clean energy standard in his annual State of the Union address on January 24. Saying, "I will not walk away from the promise of clean energy," the president framed the issue in terms of international competition, pledging not to "cede the wind or solar or battery industry to China or Germany because we refuse to make the same commitment here." He also announced two initiatives to advance the deployment of clean energy technologies.
"I'm directing my administration to allow the development of clean energy on enough public land to power 3 million homes," said President Obama. "And I'm proud to announce that the Department of Defense, working with us, the world's largest consumer of energy, will make one of the largest commitments to clean energy in history—with the Navy purchasing enough capacity to power a quarter of a million homes a year."
President Obama also emphasized the need for greater energy efficiency, proposing to help manufacturers eliminate energy waste in their factories and to give businesses incentives to upgrade their buildings, potentially cutting their energy bills by $100 billion over the next decade. In addition, the president referenced a number of tax incentives that would aid domestic manufacturing of clean energy technologies, including an extension of the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit. See the president's State of the Union address on the White House website, as well as the White House fact sheets on the president's proposals for energy and manufacturing.
Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced on January 26 that the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2013 will be held at a new location in Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California. For first time since the competition began in 2002, the event has moved from the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Chu also named the 20 teams from colleges and universities across the United States and from around the world that will compete in the biennial event.
The participants will now begin a two-year process to build solar-powered, highly energy-efficient homes that combine affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence. Throughout the two-year process, the teams will design, construct and test their homes before reassembling them at the Solar Decathlon 2013 competition site. Teams compete in ten categories ranging from best architecture and engineering to energy production for heating and cooling. Students gain real-world experience in a growing global industry.
Teams selected include Arizona State University and the University of New Mexico; Czech Technical University (Czech Republic); Hampton University and Old Dominion University; Middlebury College; Missouri University of Science and Technology; Norwich University; Queens University, Carleton University, and Algonquin College, (Canada); Santa Clara University; Southern California Institute of Architecture and California Institute of Technology; Stanford University; Stevens Institute of Technology; The Catholic University of America, George Washington University, and American University; The University of North Carolina at Charlotte; The University of Texas at El Paso and El Paso Community College; University of Calgary, Canada; University of Louisville, Ball State University, and University of Kentucky; University of Nevada, Las Vegas; University of Southern California; Vienna University of Technology (Vienna, Austria); and West Virginia University. See the DOE press release and the Solar Decathlon website.
Voting is underway online in the "America's Next Top Energy Innovator" challenge, a DOE-sponsored quest to identify the most innovative and promising start-up companies. Voting will end at 8:59 a.m. EST on February 6. The top start-up companies out of the 14 participating in the challenge, based on the public vote and an expert review, will be invited to be featured at the 2012 ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit, a gathering of clean energy investors and innovators, at the end of February.
Companies in the challenge are pioneering a variety of technologies, ranging from reducing HVAC energy to using composite materials to build low cost lithium-ion batteries. The participants in the challenge have signed option agreements allowing them to license valuable, cutting-edge technologies developed and patented by DOE's national laboratories and the agency's Y-12 National Security Complex. See the DOE press release and profiles of participants.
DOE announced the February 1 launch of the second year for its "America's Next Top Energy Innovator," a program that allows startup companies to license groundbreaking technologies developed by DOE's national laboratories. Under the initiative, an entrepreneur can pay $1,000 for a technology and use it to build a business. As part of the project, DOE reduces both the cost and paperwork requirements for startup companies to obtain an option agreement to license some of the 15,000 patents and patent applications held by the national laboratories. During the first round, 36 companies signed option agreements with the national laboratories.
In the new round, entrepreneurs and start-ups must identify the technology of interest and submit a business plan to be considered for the program. Participants will have until December 10, 2012 to submit their plans to a laboratory. From February 1 to December 10, the department will reduce the total upfront cost of licensing DOE patents in a specific technology for portfolios of up to three patents from a single laboratory. This represents an average savings of $10,000 to $50,000 in upfront fees. Other license terms, such as equity and royalties, will be negotiated on a case-by-case basis and will typically be due once the company grows and achieves commercial sales. See the DOE press release.
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) could generate 7,000 megawatts (MW) of solar energy on four military bases located in the California desert, according to a DOD study. The yearlong study, released on January 13, looked at seven military bases in California and two in Nevada. It found that while most of the surface area is unsuited for solar development because of military use and other factors, the suitable sites are large enough to generate more than 30 times the electricity consumed by the California bases. That would equal about 25% of the renewable energy that California requires utilities to use by 2015.
The study concludes that 25,000 acres are suitable for solar development, and another 100,000 acres are "likely" or "questionably" suitable for solar. According to the study, the most economically viable acreage is found at Edwards Air Force Base (24,327 acres), followed by Fort Irwin (18,728 acres), China Lake (6,777 acres), and Twentynine Palms (553 acres). Finally, the study finds that private developers can tap the solar potential on these installations with no capital investment requirement from DOD, and that the development could yield the federal government up to $100 million a year in revenue or other benefits such as discounted power.
DOD is seeking to develop solar, wind, geothermal, and other distributed energy sources on its bases to reduce both their $4 billion-a-year energy bill and their dependency on the commercial electricity grid. Such on-site energy generation, together with energy storage and so-called smart-microgrid technology, would allow a military base to maintain its critical operations "off-grid" for weeks or months if the grid were disrupted. See the DOD press release.
Announcing the Clean Energy Trust Semifinalists
On January 6, the Clean Energy Trust announced the semifinalists for its inaugural student clean energy challenge. Semifinalists were chosen from more than 40 innovative clean energy business plans submitted from eight Midwestern states.
The 16 semifinalist teams represent five states (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, and Ohio) and 11 universities, with the most teams coming from Purdue University (four teams) and Northwestern University (three teams). Within the submissions, Clean Energy Trust reviewers saw a broad assortment of undergraduate and graduate students, male and female students, engineers and social science majors, as well as those who have gone to school to focus on entrepreneurship and those who recently learned of the business plan competition opportunity. Many teams developed business plans around technologies straight from their university labs while some teams chose technologies from DOE national labs or other technology sources from across the country. Read the full story on DOE's Energy Blog.
Why Did the LED Light Bulb Cross the Road?
By Roland Risser, program manager, Building Technologies Program
Everyone knows that laughter is good for you. Studies suggest it can buffer stress and increase your resistance to disease. Also, it just feels great to laugh. Advertisers have long used the allure of laughter to sell their products, and many Americans tune in to the Super Bowl just to chuckle at the funny commercials. However, when it comes to selling people on smart energy solutions, it could be hard to find a punch line. Could using humor as a marketing strategy make energy efficiency a bit more digestible?
Energy Impact Illinois, a grant recipient of DOE's Better Buildings Neighborhood Program, is trying to find the funny in energy efficiency. The goal? Communicate the benefits of home energy upgrades and motivate local residents to take action in improving their buildings. The program has enlisted two comedians from The Second City—a comedy theatre whose alumni include Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, and Bill Murray—to play "The Energy Bills," friends who visit Chicago-area homes distributing energy saving tips.
"Little Bill" knows all the tricks to make your home more energy efficient and your bills, well, little. "Big Bill's" actions show how everything from overuse or misuse of appliances to not understanding heating and cooling can result in energy waste—costing you money. The contrast of the Bills is quite amusing, but jokes aside, Energy Impact Illinois is spreading an important message. You have a choice between two bills. Instructions on how to learn more or participate in Energy Impact Illinois' program are on their website, Facebook page, and Twitter account. The website also offers a tool called MyHomeEQ, which lets Chicago-area residents calculate about how much energy they could save with energy upgrades and helps them come up with customized plans to get rid of their Big Bill, all while connecting them with local contractors. Read the full story on DOE's Energy Blog.
Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources (CCRES)