NEWS and EVENTS by CCRES
News and Events by CCRESDOE Launches Advanced Car Competition for Universities
Teams will rebuild Chevrolet Malibus like this to lessen the environmental impact of the vehicles.
Credit: General Motors
DOE officially launched the EcoCar2 competition on April 13 and named the sixteen university teams that were selected to participate. EcoCar2: Plugging into the Future is an educational partnership between General Motors and DOE to help prepare future engineers for opportunities in clean energy and advanced vehicle industries.
EcoCAR 2 is a unique three-year collegiate engineering competition that challenges teams to reduce the environmental impact of an existing vehicle without compromising performance, safety, or consumer acceptability. The program’s combination of cutting-edge engineering practices, hands-on experience, and knowledge sharing in a competitive and team-oriented environment gives participating students a head start toward future job success. Participants will go on to make contributions that will help keep the North American automotive industry competitive in the global market place, which is increasingly adopting fuel-efficient designs.
EcoCAR2 includes both new teams and veterans to the advanced vehicle technology competitions. These teams will explore a variety of power train architectures and follow a real-world engineering regimen modeled after GM’s Global Vehicle Development Process (GVDP). Each EcoCar2 team will use a Chevrolet Malibu, donated by General Motors, as the integration platform for their advanced vehicle design. See the DOE press release and the EcoCAR Challenge website.
DOE Rolls Out Program to Promote Electric Vehicles
DOE is taking new steps to speed up the deployment of electric vehicles (EV), it announced on April 19. These efforts include making available $5 million in new funding for community-based efforts to deploy EV infrastructure and charging stations. DOE is also forming a partnership with Google Inc. and more than 80 EV stakeholders to help consumers find charging stations nationwide. The goal is to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil, saving consumers money and helping meet the administration’s goal of 1 million advanced technology vehicles on the road by 2015.
Local governments and private companies will partner to apply for the $5 million in funding to help accelerate installation of EV charging stations. Communities will work to develop plans and strategies for EV deployment, update their EV permitting processes, develop incentive programs, or launch other initiatives. See the Funding Opportunity Announcement on FedConnect. Applications are due June 13.
In a related effort, DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is joining with Google Inc. and various industry leaders to provide consumers with consistent, up-to-date information about the EV charging stations in communities nationwide. Using Google Maps, this new collaboration between NREL and partners will coordinate an online network of all U.S. charging stations and will serve as the primary data source for GPS and mapping services tracking electric vehicle charging locations. These efforts are supported by the Clean Cities program, a public-private partnership that brings together federal, state, and local governments, the auto industry, private sector fleet operators, and community leaders to help communities make their vehicle fleets more energy efficient. See the DOE press release and Clean Cities website.
DOE Labs Join to Develop Next-Generation Cool Roofs
The Environmental Protection Agency’s Research Triangle Park facility is an example of cool roof technology.
Credit: Environmental Protection Agency
DOE announced on April 14 that its Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) have joined with The Dow Chemical Company as part of a cooperative research and development agreement to research next-generation cool roof technologies. The agreement will support research to increase the energy savings from existing cool roof technologies by more than 50%.
ORNL will partner with LBNL to capitalize on the broad range of cool roof technology experience they bring from their applied research in this field. The research will focus on the development of new solar reflective roof coatings that would increase the energy savings from existing cool roof technologies for new and existing commercial buildings. In partnership with Dow, DOE’s national laboratories will work to improve the ability of roof coatings to continue reflecting sunlight after years of exposure to the elements. This includes developing technologies that improve the long-term resistance of these materials to dirt build-up and microbial growth. The goal of the cooperative research partnership is to design and commercialize the next generation of cool roof components that could significantly reduce the energy consumption of new and existing buildings.
The replacement or resurfacing of conventional roofing materials with improved reflective roof coatings could offer building owners energy savings of up to 25% on air conditioning. Improvements could reduce annual carbon dioxide emissions by 5 metric tons for every 10,000 square feet of commercial building roof area. Commercial buildings in the United States today offer an opportunity to retrofit more than 20 billion square feet of roofing space. A recent study by researchers at LBNL found that using cool roofs and cool pavements in cities around the world could help reduce the demand for air conditioning, cool entire cities, and potentially cancel the heating effect of a year of worldwide carbon dioxide emissions. See the DOE press release and the Building Technologies Program Cool Roof Web page.
California CSP Plant Gets $2.1 Billion DOE Loan Guarantee
DOE announced on April 18 its offer of a conditional commitment for a $2.1 billion loan guarantee to support Units 1 and 2 of the Blythe Solar Power Project, sponsored by Solar Trust of America, LLC. The concentrating solar thermal power plant includes two units with 484 megawatt (MW) of generating capacity. The project will be built adjacent to the City of Blythe in Riverside County, California and is expected to create more than 1,000 construction jobs and approximately 80 operations jobs. The plant is estimated to avoid more than 710,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually, an amount equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions from more than 123,000 vehicles.
Units 1 and 2 of the Blythe project represent the first phase of a larger project that, when completed, will generate 1,000 MW of solar power using parabolic trough technology. Units 1 and 2 will include HelioTrough collectors, which feature a larger, yet simplified design, making them less expensive to build and install, and more efficient than earlier trough technology. The project will be the first concentrating solar power (CSP) parabolic trough plant to use an air-cooled condenser unit, which will decrease water use by nearly 90% compared with a water-cooled CSP facility. The project will sell all its electricity output to Southern California Edison. DOE’s Loan Programs Office has issued loan guarantees or offered conditional commitments for loan guarantees totaling more than $21 billion to support 22 clean energy projects across 14 states. See the DOE press release and Loan Programs Office website.
PNNL Study: Algae Could Replace 17% of U.S. Oil Imports
Every day, the United States spends about $1 billion to import foreign oil, money that we could be investing in American energy and the American economy. President Obama recently announced an ambitious but achievable goal of reducing our oil imports by a third by 2025. To meet this goal, we will need to increase our use of homegrown advanced biofuels. On April 13, DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) came out with a new study that shows that 17% of the United States’ imported oil for transportation could be replaced with American-grown biofuels from algae.
Developing the next generation of biofuels is an important step towards reducing our dependence on foreign oil and advancing new economic opportunities throughout the country. See the Energy Blog post.
King County, Washington, Is Charging Up Savings
Residents of King County, Washington, are seeing several improvements in their community thanks to a $6.1 million Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG). The grant, which is funded by the Recovery Act, has allowed King County to conduct a variety of public and commercial energy efficiency upgrades, including the installation of electric vehicle charging stations, upgrades to its vehicle fleet, and energy improvements to senior housing.
With the help of EECBG funds, the county is helping lead a regional effort to install electric vehicle charging stations at strategic locations across the Puget Sound area. This will allow members of the public to charge their vehicles away from home and extend their trips. The installation project is expected to be finished this summer. According to King County executives, it will allow people who are buying electric vehicles to quickly charge them at the new 240-volt charging stations throughout King County. Additionally, the county is also improving the energy efficiency of its extensive fleet of vehicles by replacing conventionally powered vehicles with gas-electric hybrids. This new fleet will lower vehicle emissions and save 4,800 gallons of gas annually compared to the 20 current fleet vehicles. See the Energy Blog post.
DOE Partners to Test Advanced Energy Technologies for Utilities
DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) has signed a partnership deal that focuses on the electric power utility industries in the United States and abroad to identify opportunities for testing and deploying ARPA-E funded grid projects. Under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) DOE announced on April 14, ARPA-E, Duke Energy, and the nonprofit Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) will seek to expand cutting-edge smart grid developments, including grid-scale energy storage, power electronics, and energy efficient cooling technologies.
Under the terms of the agreement, ARPA-E will facilitate the exchange of information between ARPA-E-supported projects, EPRI, and Duke Energy, which delivers energy to approximately four million customers in five states. Duke Energy could deploy and test ARPA-E technologies at various power plants or wind farms. The technologies may also be studied either at the company’s McAlpine substation, a test bed for renewable, grid storage, and smart grid technologies, or at the company’s Envision Center, a smart grid demonstration and testing facility in Erlanger, Kentucky.
EPRI, whose members represent more than 90% of the electricity generated in the United States, will offer test-bed facilities at two of its research facilities in Charlotte, North Carolina and Knoxville, Tennessee. The sites are used for tests on consumer electronics, lightings, smart grid components, heating and cooling systems, and electric vehicle infrastructure requirements. See the DOE press release and the ARPA-E website.
United States and Qatar Sign Clean Energy MOU
DOE and the Qatar Science & Technology Park signed on April 6 a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to promote collaboration on the development and deployment of cost-effective and sustainable clean energy technologies. The partners will exchange scientific and technical information and will undertake joint research, development, and deployment initiatives. These actions will help spur energy innovation, create new markets for clean energy, and support economic growth. The MOU builds on the historically strong ties between the two nations.
DOE, principally through the Advanced Research Projects Agency—Energy (ARPA-E) and the Qatar Science & Technology Park, will pursue cooperation in key areas including advanced cooling technologies such as next-generation cooling technologies, systems integration, and building controls; renewable power generation, including coating systems to reduce the effects of weather conditions on photovoltaic systems; and energy storage with an eye toward thermal storage for combined heat and power.
Over the next decade, the partners will work with the private sector to foster scientific exchanges and research on cutting-edge technologies, including using Qatari facilities as test beds for large-scale demonstration of U.S. and Qatari technologies. The data collected from these demonstrations will help further refine the development of these innovative technologies and could provide the partners with new capabilities to meet their respective energy goals for the future. This agreement will also serve to reinforce and complement joint U.S.-Qatar participation in multilateral partnerships to achieve clean energy development and shared climate change goals. See the DOE press release.
Ohio State University Readies for its Encore at the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011
The Ohio State University Team enCore is getting ramped up for its second run at the Solar Decathlon as part of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011 this fall. After placing 10th during the 2009 competition, the team is looking to bring a bigger, tougher and more efficient house to this year’s event.
Mark Walter, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, provided an insider’s perspective. “Our goals are not too different [compared to 2009],” said Walter, who is also a faculty advisor to the team. “With the additional experience we’re looking to reach out to the community and really bringing the best possible product to the Mall.” In addition, Walter said enCore is looking to solve sustainable design problems with its original home through better efficiency, tighter construction, and smarter engineering. See the Energy Blog entry.
Interior Approves Cape Wind Offshore Construction and Operations Plan
The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) announced on April 19 that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) has approved a construction and operations plan for the Cape Wind project, an energy project located 4.7 miles offshore in Nantucket Sound. The plan from Cape Wind Associates, LLC suggests that construction of the first U.S. offshore wind farm could begin as early as the fall.
The proposed action, including its size and location, remain substantially the same it was when it was analyzed in the Cape Wind Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), which was published in January 2009. The Cape Wind energy project calls for 130 3.6-megawatt wind turbine generators, each with a maximum blade height of 440 feet, to be arranged in a grid pattern in Nantucket Sound. As part of its evaluation, BOEMRE conducted an environmental assessment to determine whether any significant impacts were not discussed in the 2009 FEIS and concluded that all impacts had been properly examined. See the DOI press release and the BOEMRE Cape Wind Web page.
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CROATIAN CENTER of RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES ( CCRES )