News and Events April 19, 2012
The Energy Department on April 17 announced that up to $5 million is available this year to assess opportunities to increase power production at up to 40 existing hydropower facilities around the nation. Through this competitive funding opportunity, the Energy Department will work with hydropower professionals to conduct standardized assessments to identify opportunities to increase generation and value at hydropower plants.
As much of America's aging hydropower infrastructure is more than 50 years old, this effort could help accelerate the deployment of upgrades at existing hydropower facilities, creating jobs and increasing the supply of renewable energy to American families and businesses. Conventional hydropower already supplies more than 6% of the nation's electricity. The assessments to be completed through this solicitation are part of the Energy Department's larger Hydropower Advancement Project, which seeks to accelerate the improvement and expansion of U.S. hydropower plants. See the DOE Progress Alert and Funding Opportunity Announcement.
Also, the Energy Department on April 17 released a report detailing the potential to develop electric power generation at existing U.S. dams that aren't equipped to produce power. The renewable assessment estimates that without building a single new dam, the available hydropower resources could provide more than 12 gigawatts (GW) if fully developed. That total would be roughly 15% of current U.S. hydropower capacity.
The report, titled An Assessment of Energy Potential at Non-Powered Dams in the United States, analyzes more than 54,000 sites that could be developed to generate power. The results indicate that the non-powered dams could provide enough energy to power over four million households. The greatest hydropower potential was found at locks and dams on the Ohio, Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas rivers in facilities owned by the United States Army Corps of Engineers. The top ten sites alone have the potential to provide approximately 3 GW of generating capacity, while the top 100 sites together could potentially provide 8 GW. Many of these dams could also likely be converted to power-generating facilities with minimal impact to critical species, habitats, parks, or wilderness areas.
The assessment by DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory in partnership with Idaho National Laboratory also concludes that many potential hydropower sites are in areas with fewer wind or solar resources. And because hydropower provides reliable baseload power day and night, developing existing dams could also provide flexibility to the electric grid, and allow utilities to integrate other renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power. See the Energy Department press release and the full report.
The Energy Department on April 11 announced a $30 million research competition for improving the performance and safety of energy storage devices, including hybrid energy storage modules being developed by the U.S. Department of Defense for military applications.
DOE, through its Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E), is funding the Advanced Management and Protection of Energy-storage Devices (AMPED) program. It is designed to seek out transformational, breakthrough energy storage technologies that are too risky for private-sector investment.
Specifically, AMPED technologies have the potential to create a new generation of electric and hybrid-electric vehicles; increase the fuel efficiency of military generators to help reduce the need for fuel convoys on the battlefield; improve the reliability of military aircraft generators to help to reduce operation and maintenance costs; enable next-generation high-power weapons systems and fuel-efficient operations for U.S. Navy ships; and enhance the efficiency and reliability of the U.S. electricity grid. See the DOE press release and the ARPA-E website for funding details.
The Energy Department announced on April 13 that up to $2.5 million will be available this year for applied research to advance clean biomass cookstove technologies for use in developing countries. The funding will support the development of innovative cookstove designs that allow users to burn wood or crop residues more efficiently and with less smoke than open fires and traditional stoves. DOE, along with other federal agencies, is a founding partner of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, a public-private partnership to advance cookstove technologies that improve indoor air quality, reduce carbon emissions, and deliver important benefits for developing nations around the world.
The World Health Organization cites indoor smoke from cooking and heating as one of the top 10 threats to public health in developing countries, contributing to nearly two million deaths each year. Clean cookstoves with reduced emissions and increased energy efficiency will help prevent some of these deaths caused by smoke exposure. Energy-efficient cookstoves also reduce fuel use, slow deforestation, and reduce the time families have to spend collecting fuel.
The Energy Department encourages organizations including small businesses, non-profits, universities, and national laboratories, to submit proposals for applied research and development grants to develop clean and efficient cookstoves. To help ensure the technologies developed will be usable and adopted, the research and development work will be based on assessments of user needs, and prototypes will be tested in the laboratory and in the field. DOE is also interested in supporting the development of a software tool that integrates research findings to help stove designers and manufacturers improve a wide range of cookstoves. See the Energy Department press release and the Funding Opportunity Announcement.
The Energy Department on April 13 announced the selection of three consortia that will make up the $125 million U.S.-India Joint Clean Energy Research and Development Center. The consortia are led in the United States by DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, as well as the University of Florida. They will bring together experts from national laboratories, universities, and industry in both the United States and India. Consortia researchers will leverage their expertise and resources in solar technology, advanced biofuels, and building efficiency to unlock the potential of clean energy technologies that can reduce energy use, cut dependence on foreign oil, and accelerate the deployment of renewable energy sources.
The three lead U.S. institutions have partnered with three lead Indian institutions: the Indian Institute of Science-Bangalore, the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology-Hyderabad, and CEPT University-Ahmedabad. The Joint Clean Energy Research and Development Center is part of the U.S.-India Partnership to Advance Clean Energy.
As part of a planned five-year initiative, DOE will make $5 million available in fiscal year 2012. The Energy Department plans to request as much as an additional $20 million of Congress over the next four years, subject to available appropriations, to support research conducted by U.S. institutions and individuals. The Indian Government also committed to funding $25 million over five years that will be used to support work by Indian institutions and individuals. In addition, U.S. and Indian consortia members have pledged more than $75 million in matching funds, for a combined funding total of more than $125 million for joint research and development in solar energy, advanced biofuels, and building energy efficiency. See the DOE press release.
The U.S. wind industry installed 6,816 megawatts (MW) of energy in 2011, a 31% gain over 2010, according to a report released April 12 by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). The U.S. wind industry's trade association reported a total of 46,916 MW installed in the United States last year. The report noted that more than 8,300 MW are under construction.
Five states received more than 10% of their electricity from wind in 2011, with South Dakota leading the way with 22.3%. Iowa, North Dakota, Minnesota, and Wyoming completed the list. In terms of wind power under construction, Kansas leads with 1,189 MW, followed by Texas, California, Oregon, and Illinois. See the AWEA press release.
The Energy Department recently launched a new Energy Savers mobile website, which conveniently provides homeowners with tips through mobile devices. Whether on the road, at the store, or talking with a home improvement contractor, as an Energy Savers mobile user, you can find ways to make your home more comfortable and easier to heat and cool—and save money at the same time.
The site features energy-saving tips you can try today, including suggestions for your roof, landscaping, appliances, and lights. These solutions are good for your wallet and for the environment, and also help with U.S. energy independence. See the Energy Savers mobile website to explore and learn more.