DOE-Supported New Mexico Hydropower Project Begins Operation
The Abiquiu Low-Flow Turbine Hydropower Project in northern New Mexico, which is the first completed hydropower project funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, started operations on April 21. The project received a $4.5 million Recovery Act grant from DOE’s Wind and Water Power Program that was leveraged with $4.5 million from the private sector. The low-flow turbine will increase renewable energy generation capacity by 22% at the Abiquiu Hydroelectric Facility, boosting its output from 13.8 megawatts (MW) to 16.8 MW. The new turbine will produce enough energy to power 1,100 homes annually and will supply clean energy to Los Alamos County, including DOE’s Los Alamos National Laboratory.
The 3-MW turbine-generator was installed by the Los Alamos County Department of Public Utilities at the Abiquiu facility on the Rio Chama River in New Mexico. DOE’s Wind and Water Power Program works to improve the performance, lower the costs, and accelerate the deployment of innovative wind and water power technologies.
25 Cities Meet to Discuss How to Bring More Solar to Market
Representatives from 25 cities around the nation gathered in Philadelphia from April 25 to 28 for the 4th annual Solar America Cities meeting to share findings on emerging trends in urban energy use and to discuss solutions to local solar barriers, such as zoning, financing and unwieldy permitting processes. At the conference, DOE’s Acting Under Secretary of Energy Dr. Arun Majumdar announced a request for information (RFI) for a solar challenge specifically designed to address permitting issues in cities. The RFI will foster solutions to help eliminate barriers to solar market development, save customers time and money, and accelerate the adoption of solar energy in communities nationwide.
Improving local permitting processes can make it easier for residents and businesses to pursue solar installations and can significantly drive down the total cost of solar projects. Unfortunately, permitting processes and requirements vary greatly between jurisdictions, and local inexperience with photovoltaics has led to inconsistent enforcement of requirements. This can add time and costs, not only for the installers but also for the system owners. According to a January 2011 report by SunRun, local permitting, inspection, and utility interconnection processes can add more than $2,500 to the cost of each residential installation.
Manufacturing Plants Incorporate Energy Efficiency into Business Model
Four Texas-based manufacturing plants are adopting robust energy efficiency standards as part of an energy management certification program led by DOE’s Industrial Technologies Program. The certification program, called Superior Energy Performance, provides a roadmap on how to reduce energy consumption without sacrificing a competitive edge or market viability.
The industrial and manufacturing sectors—which account for roughly one-third of energy use in the United States—have significant opportunities to improve the overall efficiency of their operations. By reducing the energy needed for their industrial processes, companies can save money, save energy, and help create new clean energy jobs.
Team New Jersey’s Beach House Approaches Sustainable Design from Different Angle
When it comes to picturing a beach house, you typically picture large windows to let in fresh air and sunlight or wide porches to connect the home to the outdoors. What probably doesn’t come to mind is a home primarily made of precast concrete. However, U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011’s Team New Jersey is doing exactly that—incorporating the age-old technology of concrete into their beach house design. The team hopes to show others how a material often seen as cold or industrial can be used for residential applications.
The New Jersey Solar Decathlon team is a collaboration between two universities, Rutgers and the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). “Rutgers is taking care of the engineering side of things and we’re doing architecture. We’re learning together how the whole process pans out,” said NJIT student and project architect, Jordan Tait.
New Jersey is the first team in the Solar Decathlon competition to use precast concrete panels as their primary construction material. What is the reason? Jordan explains that several factors make concrete an ideal choice. For one, the panels are super insulated—comprised of insulation sandwiched between 3 and 4 inches of poured concrete on either side.
Education Department Program Advances Sustainable Schools
The U.S. Department of Education announced on April 26 the creation of the Green Ribbon Schools program, which will recognize schools for effectively managing their carbon footprint. The new awards program will be run by the Education Department with the support of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The program will encourage school systems to take comprehensive approaches to becoming green by cutting expenses through energy efficiency and green building measures.
DOE estimates that smarter energy management in U.S. schools, which spent $6-8 billion on energy in 2000, could reduce energy consumption by as much as 25% and could cut school energy costs nationally by more than $1 billion annually. While many states have already established either green school programs or environmental literacy plans, the Green Ribbon Schools program will be modeled after the Department of Education’s Blue Ribbon Schools Program, which annually honors public and private schools that are either high-performing or have improved student achievement to high levels. Through the Green Ribbon Schools program, the Education Department, the EPA, and CEQ will recognize schools for energy conservation. The application for the program will be released later this year, and the first group of winners will be announced next year.
Wind Industry Reports Growth as Renewables Show Yearly Expansion
The U.S. wind power industry installed 1,100 megawatts (MW) of new capacity in the first quarter of 2011 and entered the second quarter with another 5,600 MW under construction, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) announced on April 28. The under-construction figure is nearly twice the megawatts that the industry reported at the same time in both 2009 and 2010. The total U.S. wind fleet capacity now stands at 41,400 MW, which is enough to supply 10 million homes.
The first quarter’s new capacity came online in 12 different states, with some seeing double-digit growth. The states adding the most capacity were Minnesota (293 MW), Washington (252 MW), and Illinois (240 MW). AWEA reported that one third of the 5,600 MW currently under construction is located in California, Oregon, and Washington.
In general, renewables showed strong growth when comparing January 2011 to January 2010, according to the Energy Information Agency’s (EIA) “Electric Power Monthly” report. Hydroelectric generation registered the largest “fuel-specific” increase with generation up 3,590 thousand megawatt-hours (MWh), or 16.2% from January 2010 to January 2011, according to EIA. The largest hydro increases were in Washington, California, and Oregon. The next largest renewable expansion was in wind generation, up 27.6% or 1,923 thousand MWh. Washington, Wyoming, and Colorado were home to the biggest wind additions. Solar power net generation measured the largest percentage increase, leaping 343%; solar grew from 10 thousand MWh to 43 thousand MWh in 2011, led by Nevada, California, and Florida, EIA reported.More info at http://solarserdar.blogspot.com.
CROATIAN CENTER of RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES ( CCRES )