News and Events

June 15, 2011

Five Million Smart Meters are Installed Nationwide

More than five million smart meters have been installed nationwide as part of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act-funded efforts to accelerate modernization of the U.S. electric grid, DOE reported on June 13. Smart meters provide utility companies with greater information about how much electricity is being used throughout their service areas. The meters also give consumers access to real-time information about their energy consumption, allowing them to make informed decisions about how they use their electricity.

Transforming the current electric grid into a more intelligent system involves a wide range of advanced technologies, including smart meters, which will improve the reliability and security of the grid. Such meters will allow for the integration of renewable energy sources and help prevent blackouts and restore power more quickly when outages occur. Nearly 90% of the meters installed to date are in Arizona, California, Florida, Idaho, Michigan, Nevada, Oklahoma, and Texas.

In one project being implemented to help consumers manage their electricity, Florida Power & Light Company is deploying an advanced metering infrastructure; as of April 30, the company had installed 1.8 million smart meters. A project of CenterPoint Energy Houston Electric involves deploying a fully integrated advanced metering system and Web portal access to over 2.2 million customers; the company has installed 1.3 million smart meters.

DOE also announced a plan to create a data map that will allow consumers to contribute data and information about their electricity provided by their utility companies. The map will show where quality information is available nationwide based on voluntary consumer input. DOE will work with stakeholders during the summer to design the website that will launch in the fall.
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DOE Offers $2 Billion Loan Guarantees for Concentrating Solar Power Plants

DOE announced on June 14 its offer of $2 billion in conditional commitments to provide loan guarantees to support two concentrating solar power (CSP) projects in California, including $1.2 billion for the Mojave Solar Project in San Bernardino County and up to $681.6 million to the Genesis Solar Project, which is located on a Bureau of Land Management site in Riverside County. At 250 megawatts each, the projects’ combined capacity will double the United States’ currently installed CSP capacity.

Abengoa Solar Inc., the Mojave project sponsor, estimates that project will create more than 830 construction jobs and 70 operating jobs. NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, the Genesis project sponsor, estimates that project will create approximately 800 construction jobs and 47 operating jobs.

The Mojave project will be the first U.S. utility-scale deployment of Abengoa’s latest parabolic trough technology, originally developed in connection with a DOE award provided by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. The solar collector assembly heat collection element uses an advanced receiver tube to increase thermal efficiency by up to 30% compared to the nation’s first CSP plants. In addition, advanced mirror technology will improve reflectivity and accuracy, allowing collection of the same amount of energy as older technologies from a smaller footprint. The project will generate enough electricity to power more than 53,000 homes.

The Genesis solar project will feature parabolic trough solar thermal technology that has been used commercially for more than two decades. The project is expected to produce enough electricity to power over 48,000 homes. To date, DOE’s Loan Programs Office has committed over $10 billion in loan guarantees to solar generation projects.
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Drop-In Biofuels Get up to $36 Million in DOE Support

DOE announced on June 10 it will offer up to $36 million to fund six small-scale projects that will advance the technology and process integration needed to produce “drop-in” advanced biofuels and other bio-based chemicals. The projects, in California, Michigan, North Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin, aim to improve the economics and efficiency of biological and chemical processes that convert non-food biomass feedstocks into replacements for petroleum-based feedstocks.

Selections include a project by HCL CleanTech, Inc., in Oxford, North Carolina, that will develop and demonstrate process improvements for pretreatment, conversion to sugars, and subsequent conversion of those sugars to fuels. Also, an undertaking by the Texas Engineering Experiment Station in College Station, Texas, will focus on developing a novel pretreatment for cellulosic biomass feedstocks using a combination of chemical and mechanical processing. DOE’s Biomass Program works with industry, academia, and national laboratory partners on a balanced portfolio of research in biomass feedstocks and conversion technologies.
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DOE Announces up to $70 Million to Advance Geothermal Energy

DOE announced on June 8 the availability of up to $70 million in new funding over three years for technology advancements in geothermal energy. DOE is targeting innovations in exploration technologies to locate geothermal resources, as well as in improvements in resource characterization, drilling, and reservoir engineering techniques. The goal is to reduce upfront costs and lower the price of geothermal energy.

This funding opportunity will support DOE’s partnerships with industry, national laboratories, and academia to advance key technology research areas including advanced exploratory drilling to reduce costs; advanced well completion; tools to isolate fracture zones within a well by working to control injection and production of water in geothermal systems; observation tools and data collection systems for reservoir stimulation; geophysical exploration technologies such as remote sensing and advanced seismic surveying to locate hidden resources; and geochemistry and rock-fluid interactions.
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DOE Offers Conditional Loan Guarantee for Nevada Geothermal Project

DOE announced on June 9 the offer of a conditional commitment to provide a partial guarantee for a $350 million loan for a geothermal power generation project. The project, sponsored by Ormat Nevada, Inc., is expected to produce 121 megawatts (MW) of base-load power from three geothermal power facilities. And, it will increase geothermal power production in Nevada by nearly 25%. The company estimates the project will create approximately 330 construction jobs and nearly 65 permanent jobs.

The geothermal facilities feature Ormat Energy Converter modules, which draw hot water from wells deep below the Earth’s surface, and the water’s thermal energy is used to heat a secondary fluid that is vaporized and then forced through a turbine to generate electricity. The project is expected to avoid nearly 580,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, an amount equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions of over 110,000 vehicles. The project is also expected to produce over one million megawatt hours of power annually, enough to power nearly 88,000 homes. The project’s total output is expected to be sold to Nevada Power Company under a long-term power purchase agreement.
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Partnership will focus on Energy Performance and Building Appraisals

DOE announced on June 13 a partnership with The Appraisal Foundation that will help expand access to energy efficiency and building performance information for commercial buildings. Under the new partnership, DOE and The Appraisal Foundation will work to ensure that appraisers nationwide have the information, practical guidelines, and professional resources they need to evaluate energy performance when conducting commercial building appraisals. This will help investors, building owners, and operators to accurately assess the value of energy efficiency as part of a building’s overall appraisal.

In 2010, commercial buildings accounted for about 20% of all the energy used in the United States. By improving insulation, lighting, windows, and heating and cooling systems, and by using daylighting, America’s commercial buildings can be more energy efficient, which saves money for businesses and helps make them more competitive. Under the partnership, DOE will develop educational materials and create a database to provide appraisers with energy-savings data, federal green building programs and policies, and additional information on energy performance.
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Innovative High Energy Density Capacitor Design Offers Potential for Clean Energy Applications

Can you imagine a photovoltaic module that’s able to generate and store electricity on its own? Or an electric vehicle (EV) powered by a technology more durable than the advanced batteries in today’s EVs? Malvern, Pennsylvania’s TroyCap, LLC is using nanolaminate technology patented by Dr. Troy Barbee at the DOE’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) to design innovative solid-state nanocapacitors that offer the potential to develop cross-cutting clean energy applications like these and others that lower the cost of energy and increase its efficient use.

TroyCap is using an innovative “sputtering” technique the company has developed with the support of LLNL to deposit alternating layers of conductive and insulating materials that are only several atoms thick on a thin metal substrate. Utilizing this process, the company hopes to manufacture what it calls High Energy Density Nanolaminate Capacitors (HEDCAPs) that the company projects will have 500 to 800 times the energy density of current capacitors and 5 to 10 times the energy density of current supercapacitors on the market, allowing them to store more energy.
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Belgium’s Ghent University Prepares their E-Cube for U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon 2011

Ghent University’s unique two-story home could be an international star at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon 2011 competition due to the Belgian team’s innovative, ultra-efficient, “passive home” design of the E-Cube. E-Cube, named for its cube-like shape, features a very clean and compact boxy exterior, complemented by a very spacious interior for a family of four (including two children) with two bedrooms, one bathroom, a kitchen, and a living area. Ghent University founded the home on several basic principles focusing on modularity and passive house standards, structural flexibility and affordability, which are evident in every part of the home.

An important aspect of the E-Cube is the simple do-it-yourself modularity. The home is designed as a pre-engineered kit that can be easily constructed by communities without specialty workers or help from outside financial institutions. The internal structure is a very basic industrial pallet racking system that keeps access and affordability in mind along with standard building codes. The E-Cube is very plug and play. Because the entire structure is built from a kit, hooking up the solar panels and other technical components requires no specific expertise.
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CROATIAN CENTER of RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES (CCRES)• was founded in 1988 as the non-profit European Association for Renewable Energy that conducts its work independently of political parties, institutions, commercial enterprises and interest groups, • is dedicated to the cause of completely substituting for nuclear and fossil energy through renewable energy, • regards solar energy supply as essential to preserve the natural resources and a prerequisite for a sustainable economy,• acts to change conventional political priorities and common infrastructures in favor of renewable energy, from the local to the international level, • brings together expertise from the fields of politics, economy, science, and culture to promote the entry of solar energy, • provides the opportunity to play a part in the sociocultural movement for renewable energy by joining the association for everyone, • considers full renewable energy supply a momentous and visionary goal - the challenge of the century to humanity. Zeljko Serdar Head of CCRES association

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