CROATIAN CENTER of RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES
October 12, 2011
Seven electricity transmission projects will be fast-tracked under a new initiative from the Obama Administration.
The Obama Administration announced on October 5 that it would accelerate the permitting and construction of seven proposed electric transmission lines. Project developers expect that the streamlined projects will increase grid capacity and create thousands of jobs in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. This move is designed to speed the creation of thousands of construction and operations jobs while transforming the U.S. electric system into a modern grid. The projects will also serve as pilot demonstrations of streamlined federal permitting and increased cooperation at the federal, state, and tribal levels.
In October of 2009, nine federal entities—including DOE, the White House Council on Environmental Quality, and the Departments of the Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, as well the EPA, the Federal Electric Regulatory Commission, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation—signed a memorandum of understanding increasing their coordination to expedite and simplify building of transmission lines on federal lands. The Administration’s recently formed Rapid Response Team for Transmission (RRTT), comprised of these same nine agencies, will accelerate responsible and informed deployment of these seven key transmission facilities. The seven selected pilot project transmission lines are the new 500-kilovolt (kV), 300-mile long Boardman-Hemingway Line powering Oregon and Idaho; the 1,150 mile high-voltage Gateway West Project across Wyoming and Idaho; the 345-kV Hampton-Rochester-La Crosse Line to power Minnesota and Wisconsin; the 210-mile 500-kV Cascade Crossing Line in Oregon; up to two 500-kV SunZia Transmission lines in New Mexico and Arizona; the approximately 145-mile 500-kV Susquehanna to Roseland Line in Pennsylvania and New Jersey; and a more than 700-mile, 600-kV Transwest Express for Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming. See the DOE press release and the RRTT Web page.
DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and NASA’s Ames Research Center, both in California, are collaborating on technologies and processes for what they say could become the “greenest” and highest-performing building in the federal government by using technologies developed for space. The structure, called Sustainability Base in honor of Apollo 11’s lunar landing site, will feature NASA intelligent system software installed by Ames engineers. To help integrate these “smart system” technologies, LBNL developed a building information model to serve as the repository for the building’s systems information during its life cycle. Using data from this model, LBNL developed an energy-performance simulation model to optimize the building’s energy operations.
Sustainability Base, now under construction, is a closed-loop sustainable building. It repurposed NASA technologies to conserve energy and reduce water consumption. The structure uses regional natural resources, such as natural lighting, and captures cool night air to reduce cooling during the day. Both NASA and the DOE will benefit from this collaboration. LBNL will further develop modeling techniques for DOE’s EnergyPlus simulation engine. By installing additional sensors in Sustainability Base, the EnergyPlus model will have access to a richer data set for better calibration and validation; at the same time, Ames will receive better insight into the building’s performance. This collaboration also will facilitate the collection and analysis of building-performance data that can be used for construction of future energy efficient office buildings. See the NASA press release and the Sustainability Base website.
DOE reported on October 3 the commissioning of a combined heat and power (CHP) fuel cell system at Portland Community College in Oregon. Two five-kilowatt CHP fuel cell systems will help Portland Community College save on its energy bills and achieve its energy efficiency and sustainability goals. And, students will learn about the fuel cell technology used in the project as part of a comprehensive alternative energy curriculum offered by the school.
The project is the first of ten CHP fuel cell systems that will go into operation on the West Coast as part of a $2.8 million combined industry and government award that includes $1.4 million of DOE funding. In addition to providing electricity, the CHP fuel cell system captures the excess heat generated inside the fuel cell and releases it into the facility to provide space heating. The excess heat can also be used for hot water or other heating needs, while excess electricity produced but not consumed by the building can be sold back to a local utility company. DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) awarded $1.4 million to Oregon-based ClearEdge Power to install 38 CHP fuel cell systems. PNNL will analyze the engineering, economic, and environmental performance of the two systems during the next five years. PNNL anticipates that this type of a system could reduce the fuel costs and carbon footprint of a commercial building by approximately 40%, compared with conventional electricity use. See the DOE press release.
The e-Genius, a glider with an electric motor, finished second in the CAFE Green Flight Challenge in California.
NASA awarded $1.65 million on October 3 for the Green Flight Challenge, a competition designed to spark the start of the electric airplane industry. Team Pipistrel-USA.com of State College, Pennsylvania, claimed the first place prize of $1.35 million, with team e-Genius, of Ramona, California, taking the second place prize of $120,000. NASA and the Comparative Aircraft Flight Efficiency Foundation held the inaugural event, sponsored by Google, at the Sonoma County Airport in Santa Rosa, California.
Fourteen teams with electric, biofueled, and hybrid-powered aircraft originally registered for the competition, and three teams met all requirements to soar in the skies. To win, an aircraft had to fly 200 miles in less than two hours and use less than one gallon of fuel per occupant, or the equivalent in electricity. The first and second place teams, which were both electric-powered, achieved twice the fuel efficiency requirement by using just over a half-gallon of fuel equivalent per passenger. The competition is part of the NASA Centennial Challenges program. It is designed to stimulate private sector investment in solving technical problems. See the NASA press release.
Like many weekend warriors, I enjoy tackling small home improvement projects, like replacing a door or installing an underground sprinkler system. But I want to get expert advice before I start, so I can avoid costly mistakes and achieve the best results.
Commercial building designers faced with energy efficiency concerns share the same feeling. It’s complicated trying to make decisions about advanced HVAC systems in different climates or determining potential energy savings from winter daylighting. That’s why DOE created OpenStudio, a software kit and suite of advanced energy modeling tools.
Engineers, architects, and others can explore the most efficient improvements available for commercial buildings with this free application suite. Through its user-friendly interface, design teams can use OpenStudio to understand the cost implications of their specific plans.
One of the key components of this system is its ability to tap into DOE’s advanced whole-building energy modeling program, EnergyPlus. Designers can draw the building in detail using site photos and other inputs to get an accurate representation of the building. OpenStudio then converts the information into data that EnergyPlus uses to help designers understand the impact their design choices are having on cost, energy efficiency, and code compliance. The plug-in also speeds up the modeling process, which is otherwise complex and time consuming. See the Energy Blog post.
How do we leverage the innovative minds of our university students to make our clean energy goals a reality? Bringing students and business expertise together early in the process is a crucial part of identifying promising technologies and making them successful in the marketplace.
For example, a simple, portable device that monitors defects in wind turbine blades will help make wind a more efficient and reliable alternative energy source. This is one of three new projects by teams of science and engineering graduate students at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and San Diego State University (SDSU) that are receiving financial support and business mentorship through DOE’s Innovation Ecosystems Initiative.
UCSD and SDSU received a three-year, $1 million grant to create the Southern California Renewable Energy Technology Acceleration Program and amplify the already significant role that students play in facilitating the technology transfer process. In addition to the device to monitor wind turbine blade defects, the program includes projects to create a new high-efficient and mercury-free light bulb, as well as a new way to manufacture flexible, three-dimensional organic solar cells at low cost. See the Energy Blog post.
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