Energy Department Announces Apps for Vehicles Challenge Winners
The Energy Department announced the winners of the Apps for Vehicles Challenge on April 1. The competition asked app developers and entrepreneurs to demonstrate how the open data available on most vehicles can be used to improve vehicle safety, fuel efficiency, and comfort. The Department awarded the Judges’ Prize to New York City-based Dash, which developed an app that turns any vehicle into a “smart car,” providing real diagnostics and alerts to enable drivers to maximize engine performance, minimize carbon emissions, and save money. The Popular Choice prize went to MyCarma, headquartered in Troy, Michigan, which developed an app that offers a personalized fuel economy estimate based on a driver’s unique driving patterns instead of a standard test cycle. Green Button Gamer, based in Boston, Massachusetts, won the Safety Innovation award, and Fuel Economy Coach, based in Augusta, Georgia, received the Fuel Efficiency Innovation award.
The Apps for Vehicles Challenge is focused on spurring innovative projects or services to reduce fuel costs and increase safety for consumers by utilizing vehicle-generated information, including data on engine speed, brake position, headlights, and distance traveled. Entries were judged based on their creativity, innovation, use of open vehicle data, consumer accessibility, and potential to help consumers improve fuel efficiency. The Energy Department announced the competition in October 2012, and from nearly 40 entries that were submitted for the first phase of the competition, seven were selected as finalists to advance to the second stage. See the Energy Department’s Progress Alert
and visit the Apps for Vehicles Challenge website
to download the winning apps.
Energy Department Renews Funding for Bioenergy Research Centers
The Energy Department announced on April 4 that it would fund its three Bioenergy Research Centers for an additional five-year period, subject to continued congressional appropriations. The three centers were established by the Department’s Office of Science in 2007 as an innovative program to accelerate fundamental research breakthroughs toward the development of advanced next-generation biofuels. The centers include the BioEnergy Research Center, led by the Department’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory; the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center, led by the University of Wisconsin-Madison in partnership with Michigan State University; and the Joint BioEnergy Institute, led by the Department’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Each center is designed to be a large, integrated, multidisciplinary research effort, funded at the rate of $25 million per year, and they have consistently received high marks from outside reviewers for both their scientific productivity and the effective management and integration of their research efforts.
In their first five years of operation, the Bioenergy Research Centers have produced more than 1,100 peer-reviewed publications and more than 400 inventions, as recorded in invention disclosures or patent applications. Among the breakthroughs are new approaches for engineering non-food crops for biofuel production; reengineering of microbes to produce advanced biofuels such as “green” gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel precursors from biomass; and the development of methods to grow non-food biofuel crops on marginal lands so as not to compete with food production. In the next five years, emphasis will be on bringing new methods and discoveries to maturity, developing new lines of research, and accelerating the transformation of scientific breakthroughs into new technologies that can transition to the marketplace. See the Energy Department press release
, and for more information on the centers, visit the Genomic Science Program website
New Database Shows Benefits of Energy Efficiency Programs
The Energy Department on April 5 recognized a new publicly available database that offers federal, state, and local decision-makers information documenting the results of energy-efficiency programs in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. The Regional Energy Efficiency Database (REED), a project of Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships, provides a one-stop resource to readily access energy efficiency program data, including energy and peak-demand savings, costs, avoided emissions, and job impacts. This is part of the Energy Department’s broader effort to improve public access to energy information, empowering consumers, industry, and government agencies to make informed decisions that save money by saving energy.
The REED database allows users to generate reports and download underlying data showing the impacts of ratepayer-funded energy efficiency programs in Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. REED will help inform a broad range of policy issues, including energy, economic, and air quality planning, and help demonstrate the long-term, money-saving benefits of energy efficiency investments. Specifically, policymakers, program administrators and other industry stakeholders can use the REED data for a variety of purposes, including comparing efficiency program impacts across states to help identify best practices in efficiency policy and program design, as well as informing progress toward clean air and climate change goals. The database currently includes 2011 electric and gas energy efficiency program data and will expand this fall to include 2012 data from Delaware and the District of Columbia, as well as the states currently in the database. See the Energy Department Progress Alert
Manufacturing Energy Use Down Since 2002: EIA
Total energy consumption in the U.S. manufacturing sector decreased by 17% from 2002 to 2010, according to data released on March 19 by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Manufacturing gross output decreased by only 3% over the same period. Taken together, these data indicate a significant decline in the amount of energy used per unit of gross manufacturing output. The significant decline in energy intensity reflects both improvements in energy efficiency and changes in the manufacturing output mix. Consumption of every fuel used for manufacturing declined over this period.
The manufacturing sector comprised more than 11% of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) in 2010. The manufacturing base in the United States is broad, and includes energy-intensive industries such as petroleum refining, chemicals, aluminum, iron and steel, paper, wood products, and food, as well as less energy-intensive industries such as textiles, leather, apparel, furniture, machinery, and electrical equipment. Energy for manufacturing can be consumed in two ways: as a fuel or as a feedstock (material input to a final product). Energy consumed as a fuel includes all energy used for heat and power. Energy used as feedstock is the use of energy sources for raw material input or for any purpose other than the production of heat or power. See the EIA press release