June 22, 2011

DOE Offers $359 Million Loan Guarantee for Photovoltaic Solar Power Plant

DOE announced on June 15 the offer of a conditional commitment for a $359.1 million loan guarantee to Mesquite Solar 1, LLC, to support the development of a photovoltaic (PV) solar generating project in Arizona. The optimized 150-megawatt (MW) alternating current project is sponsored by Sempra Generation and is located about 45 miles west of Phoenix. The company estimates the project will create up to 300 construction jobs and 7-10 full time operating jobs. The project will be one of the first U.S. large-scale utility PV power plants to use U.S.-manufactured innovative transformerless and liquid-cooled inverter technology, which allows for significant improvements in energy output. The project is anticipated to generate nearly 350,000 megawatt hours of electricity in the first full year of production, or enough to power over 31,000 homes. Power from the project will be sold to Pacific Gas and Electric Company.More info at:

Innovative Solar Manufacturing Gets DOE Support

To boost solar innovative solar energy manufacturing, DOE has announced two offers of conditional commitments for loan guarantees totaling $425 million. On June 16, DOE announced the offer of a $275 million loan guarantee to Calisolar, Inc. to commercialize its innovative solar silicon manufacturing process. Calisolar’s process should produce silicon for use in solar cells at less than half the cost of traditional polysilicon purification processes. At full production, the manufacturing plant is expected to produce 16,000 metric tons of solar silicon annually. The project will be built in three phases and is expected to be located in a former General Motors stamping plant in Ontario, Ohio. Calisolar estimates that the facility will generate, at its peak, nearly 1,100 permanent jobs and up to 1,000 construction jobs. The project will manufacture solar silicon from lower-cost metallurgical grade silicon feedstock that is upgraded using Calisolar’s proprietary silicon purification process, which uses significantly less energy to produce solar silicon that performs as well as polysilicon products made from more expensive and energy-intensive traditional processes. Calisolar is helping achieve the goals of DOE’s SunShot Initiative by lowering the cost of their solar cells through using less pure silicon, the raw material for solar cells. This work was supported by DOE through funding for the University of California, Berkeley and with $3 million from DOE’s PV Technology Incubator, which leveraged $6.6 million in private industry cost share and was run through DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory. On June 17, DOE announced another offer of a conditional commitment, this time for a $150 million loan guarantee to 1366 Technologies, Inc. The company will develop a multicrystalline wafer-manufacturing project capable of producing approximately 700 to 1,000 megawatts of silicon-based wafers annually using a revolutionary manufacturing process called “direct wafer.” The process could reduce manufacturing costs of the wafers by approximately 50%. Phase 1 of the project will be located in Lexington, Massachusetts, and is expected to generate 70 permanent jobs and 50 construction jobs. The company is evaluating site locations for another planned phase, which it anticipates will create hundreds of additional jobs. The original development of the company’s direct wafering technology was supported with a $4 million grant from DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy program and a $3 million grant from DOE’s Solar Energy Technologies Program. The new process condenses four manufacturing steps into a single, low-cost step and greatly reduces silicon waste by forming individual wafers directly from a pool of molten silicon. A thin sheet of silicon freezes inside the direct wafer furnace and is then removed and laser-trimmed to size. At full production, the entire wafer-formation process is completed in just a fraction of the time required by conventional batch processing, which can take up to three days. The company’s one-step system requires 90% less energy and results in an industry-standard product that can be used by any standard multicrystalline cell manufacturer.More info at:

DOE to Help Train Next Generation of Industrial Energy Efficiency Experts

DOE announced on June 16 the availability of more than $30 million to train engineering students in manufacturing efficiency, helping them become the next industrial energy efficiency experts. Through the industrial assessment center program, university teams across the country will gain practical training that will enable them to conduct energy assessments in a broad range of manufacturing facilities. These participants will help local companies and factories reduce energy waste, save money, and become more economically competitive. Under this funding opportunity, each industrial assessment center will be expected to train at least 10 to 15 students per year, conduct approximately 20 energy assessments annually, and perform extensive follow-on reporting, tracking, implementation, and management-improvement activities. DOE will select 20 to 30 universities as industrial assessment centers that will be eligible to receive $200,000 to $300,000 per year for up to five years for the training and energy assessments. Applications are due by August 2.More info at:

Virginia Tech Wins EcoCAR Competition

On June 16, a team of students from Virginia Tech learned they were the overall winners of “EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge” after designing and building an extended-range electric vehicle using E85 (ethanol). Virginia Tech competed against 15 other universities in the three-year competition sponsored by DOE and General Motors. The competition helps train students to become the next generation of workers the United States needs to lead the global auto industry. The EcoCAR competition challenged participants to re-engineer a GM-donated vehicle to minimize the vehicle’s fuel consumption and emissions, while maintaining its utility, safety, and performance. Throughout the competition, the Virginia Tech team hit incremental goals that helped the vehicle achieve the equivalent of nearly 82 miles per gallon, a 70% improvement in fuel efficiency over the stock vehicle. The Ohio State University was second, and the University of Waterloo took third place. More info at:

DOE Offers Loan Guarantee to New Hampshire’s Largest Wind Farm

DOE announced on June 21 the offer of a conditional commitment to Granite Reliable Power, LLC, to provide up to $135.76 million in loan guarantees for a new wind generation project. The 99-megawatt (MW) project will be located approximately 110 miles north of Concord, New Hampshire. According to project sponsors, the project will create nearly 200 construction jobs. The project will consist of 33 Vestas 3-MW wind turbines, and will generate enough electricity to power nearly 20,000 homes, avoiding the emission of more than 124,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually. The majority of the power from the project will be sold to Central Vermont Public Service and Green Mountain Power. DOE’s Loan Programs Office has issued loans or loan guarantees, or offered conditional commitments for loan guarantees totaling over $33 billion to support 36 clean energy projects across the United States.More info at:

Primus Power’s Flow Battery Powered by $11 Million in Private Investment

In February, the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) announced that six of its projects, which initially received a total of $23.6 million in agency seed funding, had collectively generated more than $100 million in outside private capital investment. ARPA-E recently received the news that another of its performers, Primus Power, has generated $11 million in follow-on funding for its grid-scale storage technology—five times more than ARPA-E’s $2 million investment last year. As Secretary Chu has said about follow-on funding for ARPA-E projects, “This is precisely the innovation leverage that is needed to win the future.” Primus Power has developed a low-cost, distributed storage flow battery made of tanks filled with high energy density electrolytes that are pumped throughout the battery system. This flow battery can store renewable energy such as wind and solar power and then release that energy into the grid during peak load times. Since renewable energy is often variable, the ability to store this electricity to balance grid power is becoming significantly more important as renewables become more prevalent in the United States. Primus Power is building a farm of flow batteries that promise to offer 25 megawatts of power for up to three hours for the Modesto Irrigation District (Modesto, California’s utility provider). This battery farm will serve as a full-scale demonstration system, and it will store the region’s wind-generated energy and provide an alternative to fossil-fuel-fired generation.More info at:

U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon’s Team China Transforms Shipping Containers into Solar-Powered House

Design aesthetics, engineering, marketing appeal—these are just a few of the elements on which U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon 2011 houses will be evaluated and scored. But, new this year to the competition is the affordability contest. Teams are encouraged to think creatively and strategically not only about the overall structure and functioning of the house but also on how accessible they can make their design to everyone. Team China, which is composed of students and faculty from Tongji University, has risen to the affordability challenge with an innovative strategy—take discarded shipping containers from the docks and refurbish them as the primary structure of the home. “We transformed standard shipping containers in order to compensate for the cost of photovoltaic technology,” explained Hua Guodong, primary student architect. This allows the team to incorporate clean energy technologies, such as solar panels, into its design while keeping construction costs low.More info at:



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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