News and Events March 07, 2012
DOE announced on March 1 the start of an initiative to capture wind energy off U.S. coasts. As part of a planned six-year, $180 million initiative, an initial $20 million will be available this year as the first step in supporting up to four innovative offshore wind energy installations. These offshore wind projects will accelerate the deployment of breakthrough wind power technologies that will help diversify the U.S. energy portfolio. Offshore wind resources in the United States are estimated at more than 4,000 gigawatts.
The demonstration projects will help address key challenges associated with installing utility-scale offshore wind turbines, connecting offshore turbines to the power grid, and navigating new permitting and approval processes. In addition to the new funding, DOE is continuing to work with partners across the federal government to implement a comprehensive offshore wind energy strategy, conduct resource assessments, and streamline siting and permitting processes.
Applicants to the competitive solicitation are expected to form consortia of energy project developers, equipment suppliers, research institutions, and marine-installation specialists. DOE funds may be used to cover up to 80% of a project's design costs and 50% of the hardware and installation costs. Applications are due on May 31, 2012. See the DOE press release and the funding opportunity details.
DOE announced on March 1 that up to $6 million will be available this year to collect and analyze valuable performance and durability data for light-duty fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). Projects selected will gather data from next-generation FCEVs as they are operated in real-world conditions. The goal is to identify ways to lower costs, improve fuel cell durability, and increase overall vehicle performance.
DOE seeks applicants to design and implement projects to monitor the performance and durability of advanced FCEVs for up to five years. The projects—which share costs equally—will supply information on fuel cell system operation and other vehicle data to the Hydrogen Secure Data Center at DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) for analysis and comparison. Data will be collected from various makes and models of FCEVs so that engineers and scientists can measure the performance and technical progress of a range of fuel cell systems. The conclusions drawn from the data by NREL will help identify and focus future research and development efforts and gauge progress toward fuel cell performance and cost targets. See the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy progress alert, the Funding Opportunity Exchange website, and the Fuel Cell Technologies Program website.
DOE's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) issued a $150 million funding opportunity on March 2 that is open to all transformational energy technologies. This Open Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) is a call to scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs to propose early-stage research projects that would not otherwise be able to attract private investment. Such projects could lead to breakthrough energy technologies. This is the second Open FOA released under ARPA-E.
The open call includes electricity generation by renewable means; electricity transmission, storage, and distribution; energy efficiency for buildings, manufacturing and commerce, and personal use; and all aspects of transportation, including the production and distribution of renewable fuels, electrification, and energy efficiency in transportation. Individual awards under the Open FOA will range between $250,000 and $10 million. See the DOE press release and the FOA announcement on the Funding Opportunity Exchange website.
A new ranking of states released on February 28 gives California the lead in terms of overall renewable energy suitability. Ernst & Young issued United States Renewable Attractiveness Indices, which focuses on diverse renewable energy markets, energy infrastructures, and their suitability for individual technologies.
Following California in the "All Renewables Index" were New Mexico, Colorado, and Hawaii, with Massachusetts and Texas tied for fifth place, the report said. New Mexico and Colorado rated highly because of consistent growth and strong potential across all renewable energy technologies. Massachusetts and Texas tied because of strong solar and wind investment respectively. In separate renewable indices, Maine topped the biomass category and finished second in geothermal. Illinois ranked fourth in the long-term wind index. Future reports will be released semiannually, Ernst & Young said. See the Ernst & Young press release and the full report.
Ford Motor Company announced on March 2 that its new Focus Electric was U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certified as having a city rating of 110 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) and a highway rating of 99 MPGe. The Detroit automaker said that its rating makes it the most fuel-efficient five-passenger car in the United States. The car can travel 76 miles on a single charge. The EPA had not officially posted the numbers at the time of the announcement.
Also, Ford said that the Focus Electric has been certified at a combined rating—city and highway—of 105 MPGe. In the latest published EPA ratings, the 2012 Nissan Leaf has a combined rating of 99 MPGe. General Motors’ 2012 Chevrolet Volt, a plug in hybrid electric vehicle (EV), has a combined gas/electricity rating of 60 MPGe.
Ford said that when it adds the new 2013 Ford Fusion to its line, it would be the world's most fuel-efficient gas- and hybrid-powered midsize sedan. See the Ford press release.
University Teams Tackle Efficiency's Barriers for Buildings
On March 2, Energy Secretary Steven Chu joined a group of bright, ambitious university students for the finale of the Better Buildings Case Competition in Washington, D.C.
The initiative, part of the president's Better Buildings Challenge, taps into the innovative, out-of-the-box thinking of university energy clubs—tasking them to devise comprehensive solutions to persistent barriers to energy-efficiency for buildings in the marketplace.
As part of the competition, students analyzed four case studies—using real-world scenarios and data provided by partners in the DOE Better Buildings Challenge—to improve energy efficiency in commercial buildings. Secretary Chu announced the winners for each case study, based on two categories: most innovative solution and best proposal. Read the whole story in the DOE Energy Blog.