News and Events
Obama Administration Launches First Federal Electric Vehicle Pilot
President Obama issued a presidential memorandum on May 24 that directed federal agencies to implement fuel-efficient and innovative fleet management practices. In conjunction with the memorandum, the General Services Administration (GSA) launched a pilot project to incorporate electric vehicles (EV) and technologies into the federal fleet. GSA also announced its initial purchase of more than 100 EVs, which DOE and other agencies will lease. These steps move the U.S. government closer to meeting the goals set by the president’s 2009 executive order requiring the federal government to purchase only alternative fuel vehicles by 2015 and to cut petroleum use 30% by 2020.
In the memorandum, the president specifically directed agencies to determine optimal fleet size and provide recommendations for adding alternative fuel vehicles. The memorandum also requires agencies to establish a goal for the size and composition of the federal fleet as well as a plan to achieve this target by 2015. In creating the EV pilot, GSA conducted a bid competition among vendors and awarded contracts for Chevrolet, Nissan, and Think City vehicles. As the pilot program continues, other companies may bid to become eligible for future purchases.
As part of the effort, DOE is helping to lead the way by expanding its use of hybrids while reducing its fleet overall. In addition to reducing the use of petroleum in its own vehicles, the department is also working closely with the private sector to transition commercial fleets to alternative, fuel-efficient technologies. Under the National Clean Fleets Partnership, DOE is helping companies to reduce diesel and gasoline use in their fleets.More info at http://solarserdar.blogspot.com.
DOE Partners in New Education Initiative to Promote Energy Efficiency
DOE and the U.S. Department of Education joined with the National Science Teachers Association on May 24 to launch America’s Home Energy Education Challenge, a new energy education initiative. The goal is to motivate students across the country to learn about energy efficiency and to help their families save money.
Part of the overall challenge will be the Home Energy Challenge, a competition this fall allowing school teams to use energy efficiency activities that reduce energy use in their homes. Teams will be asked to measure their energy consumption during a three-month period and compare it to data from the same period the year before. The exercise will allow students to track whether they reduced their energy use. Participating schools can compete for more than $200,000 in prizes.
The second part of the overall challenge will be the Energy Fitness Award. Modeled after the President’s Physical Fitness award, the fitness award will encourage students to better understand basic energy issues, including the connection between energy use and energy bills. Winners will be named on a school-by-school basis, with a math or science teacher directing each contest.More info at http://solarserdar.blogspot.com.
EPA, DOT Unveil the Next Generation of Fuel Economy Labels
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unveiled on May 25 new fuel economy labels for vehicles. The newest versions provide more comprehensive fuel efficiency information, including estimated annual fuel costs, savings, as well as information on each vehicle’s environmental impact. Starting with model year 2013, the fuel economy labels will be required on all new passenger cars and trucks, both conventional gasoline-powered and next generation cars such as plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles. Automakers may also voluntarily adopt the new labels earlier for model year 2012 vehicles.
For the first time, the labels will provide an estimate of how much fuel or electricity it takes to drive 100 miles. They also provide ways to compare energy use and cost between new-technology cars that use electricity and conventional cars that are gasoline-powered.
In July, the Obama Administration plans to finalize the first-ever national fuel economy and greenhouse gas emission standards for commercial trucks, vans, and buses built between 2014 and 2018. These standards are expected to save hundreds of millions of barrels of oil over the life of the vehicles covered and promote the development and deployment of alternative fuels, including natural gas.More info at http://solarserdar.blogspot.com.
ARPA-E, Stanford University Explore Hows and Whys of Energy Use
The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) is known for sponsoring high-risk, high-reward ideas on the cutting edge of energy research and development, such as a novel manufacturing process that that will reduce the cost of solar panels by 50%, battery technology that will allow energy storage for multiple hours on the power grid, and biofuels without photosynthesis. But, one ARPA-E project is a little bit different from the rest—rather than working toward a specific technological breakthrough, researchers at Stanford University’s H-STAR Institute are seeking a breakthrough on the behavioral side of energy use. In other words, how do people make decisions about energy? What compels their behavior? And, how can energy be used more efficiently without adversely affecting peoples’ lifestyles?
Stanford’s team—comprised of researchers from communications, engineering, economics, psychology, medicine, and computer science—is combining behavioral approaches, product design, computation, and technology to encourage people to be more energy efficient at home, with a long-term goal of reducing average residential energy use by over 20%.More info at http://solarserdar.blogspot.com.
How the Recovery Act and Community Organizing are Saving Major Cash for San Mateo County Residents
Obtaining a home energy upgrade is becoming increasingly affordable in California, thanks to an array of financial incentives and rebates. In fact, residents in the San Mateo County can take advantage of up to $4,000 per household, made available through the California Energy Commission’s Department of Energy’s State Energy Program. San Mateo County has also used nearly $110,000 from DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program to get the word out about these rebates through local governments and non-profits. These partners are then educating and engaging specific populations at the local level, a strategy known as community-based social marketing.
With this and other outreach strategies coordinated by the Energy Upgrade San Mateo Program, the county expects to upgrade 750 homes, create 150 new jobs, and reduce home energy use by an estimated 35 billion Btu.More info at http://solarserdar.blogspot.com.
U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011 House Design Places People, Outdoors at its Heart
New Zealand is the first place morning light hits at the start of each new day—and, now it is home to the first team from the Southern Hemisphere ever to compete in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon competition. The team, comprised of students and faculty from Victoria University of Wellington, have looked to revamp an iconic symbol of New Zealand’s beach holiday lifestyle—the modest coastal “Kiwi bach.”
Dotting New Zealand’s coastline are thousands of cherished summer homes called bach (pronounced batch). Traditionally small and spare, these homes were made for summertime on the beach, where life takes place as much outside as it does inside. By incorporating energy efficient design strategies to keep energy consumption at a minimum, the team hopes to redefine what the bach symbolizes not only as the ideal way to enjoy summers but also as a model of sustainable home design.More info at http://solarserdar.blogspot.com.
CROATIAN CENTER of RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES ( CCRES )