Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources
February 08, 2012
DOE announced on February 7 its plans to launch a new energy innovation hub for advanced research on batteries and energy storage, with an investment of up to $120 million over five years. The Batteries and Energy Storage Hub will focus on accelerating research and development of electrochemical energy storage for transportation and the electric grid. The hub will be funded at up to $20 million in Fiscal Year 2012 and managed by the Basic Energy Sciences program of DOE’s Office of Science.
Universities, national laboratories, nonprofit organizations, and private firms are eligible to compete and are encouraged to form partnerships when submitting their proposals. Interdisciplinary research and development conducted through the new Energy Innovation Hub will help advance cutting-edge energy storage and battery technologies. These technologies can be used to improve the reliability and the efficiency of the electrical grid; better integrate renewable energy technologies as part of the electrical system; and reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil using electric and hybrid vehicles.
Energy innovation hubs are designed to bring together teams of scientists and engineers across intellectual disciplines to rapidly accelerate scientific discoveries and shorten the path from laboratory innovation to technological development and commercial deployment of critical energy technologies. Letters of Intent to apply are due March 1, 2012, with full applications due May 31, 2012. The award selection is expected this summer. See the DOE press release, the funding opportunity announcement and the energy innovation hubs website.
DOE highlighted on January 27 its partnership with the Volvo Group to commercialize and deploy cutting-edge trucking technologies that will help boost the competitiveness of the U.S. auto and manufacturing industries. Through DOE’s SuperTruck program, the Volvo Group was awarded $19 million to improve the efficiency of heavy-duty vehicles like the Mack and Volvo Trucks. The company is matching the Super Truck program award dollar for dollar. The Volvo Group participating in one of the four SuperTruck development projects that focus on increasing the fuel efficiency of Class 8 trucks, known as 18-wheelers, by 50%. To achieve this goal, companies are developing and improving vehicle technologies in engine efficiency, aerodynamics, waste heat recovery, and hybridization, for example. DOE expects fuel economy increases from 6.5 miles per gallon (mpg) to 9.75 mpg.
The Volvo Group has also embraced manufacturing efficiency as part of the DOE’s Better Buildings, Better Plants program, pledging to reduce the energy intensity of its manufacturing plants with assistance and guidance from DOE. At the company’s River Valley plant in Dublin, Virginia, it has implemented a range of measures that reduced its energy intensity by almost 30% in just one year. See the DOE press release and a DOE brochure about the Volvo Group success.
DOE announced on January 26 that Houston, Texas, is joining DOE’s Better Buildings Challenge. Houston is the latest community to join the challenge, a public-private partnership that seeks to improve energy efficiency by 20% in commercial, government, and school buildings across the country by 2020. The City of Houston is committing to improving energy efficiency across 30 million square feet of public and private buildings throughout the city.
Through its participation in the Better Buildings Challenge, Houston will work with local partners to implement initiatives that reduce emissions, protect air quality, and save taxpayers money. The Better Buildings Challenge is a national leadership initiative that calls on corporate chief executive officers, university presidents, and state and local leaders to make a significant commitment to energy efficiency. To date, more than 60 companies, cities, universities, hospitals, and other partners throughout the United States have committed to upgrading more than 1.6 billion square feet of building space nationwide. See the DOE press release and the Better Buildings Challenge website.
DOE released on January 24 a report showing that the adoption of energy-efficient lighting products in the United States has increased over the last decade. The 2010 U.S. Lighting Market Characterization report examines the current conditions and broad trends in the U.S. lighting market, broken down by technology and sector. The study shows that in 2010, lighting used approximately 700 terawatt-hours (TWh), or nearly 19% of the electricity produced in the United States. Of the total energy used for lighting, the commercial sector consumed nearly half, or 349 TWh, primarily with fluorescent lighting products. While nearly 6 billion light bulbs are installed in the residential sector compared to approximately 2 billion lamps in the commercial buildings sector, the mostly incandescent residential lamps were not used nearly as much per day, on average, as lights in the commercial sector were used. Also, the average system efficacy (a measure of the amount of light provided per watt of power consumed) of installed lighting increased from 45 lumens per watt in 2001 to 58 lumens per watt in 2010, due mainly to a move from incandescent to compact fluorescent lamps in the residential sector, and from T12 to more-efficient T8 and T5 fluorescent lamps in the commercial and industrial sectors.
The new report updates a similar DOE model of the 2001 U.S. lighting market inventory. During the intervening decade, two trends emerged. First, there is push toward energy-saving lighting. Second, there is a continued increase in the demand for lighting, with most of the growth occurring in the residential sector, primarily because of an increase in the number of households, which increased from under 107 million in 2001 to more than 113 million in 2010. See the DOE Progress Alert and the technical reports listed on the Solid-State Lighting website.
The Department of the Interior (DOI) on February 2 marked a major milestone for offshore wind energy along the Atlantic Coast. DOE and its Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced that the department’s initiative has passed a key environmental review. This approval will allow the process for wind energy lease sales off Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, and Virginia to move forward.
BOEM’s National Environmental Policy Act assessment found that there would be no significant environmental or socioeconomic impacts from issuing wind energy leases in designated areas off the mid-Atlantic Coast. The bureau also published calls for information and nominations for Maryland and Virginia to solicit lease nominations from industry and to request public comments regarding site conditions, resources, and multiple uses of the wind energy areas. The bureau also announced the finalization of a first-of-its-kind lease form that will help streamline the issuance of offshore renewable energy leases. Financial and other terms, as well as any site-specific mitigation measures, will be added to each individual lease before it is executed. The lease form is available now and will be effective 15 days following publication in the Federal Register. See the DOI press release and the lease information in the Federal Register .
Hawaii Gets ‘EV Ready’
Hawaii is the most oil-dependent state in the nation, with more than 95% of its energy supplied by imported fossil fuels. Gas and electricity prices in Hawaii are also far above the national average. To increase its energy independence, Hawaii is revving up its state electric vehicle program, “EV Ready,” thanks to $4.5 million in funding from the DOE’s State Energy Program and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
As part of the program administered by Hawaii’s Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, residents and businesses can apply for rebates and grants to purchase electric vehicles and construct charging stations. In 2011, rebates were approved for 237 electric vehicles and 168 chargers.
Last July, Governor Neil Abercrombie unveiled the first public charging station installed in the state capitol’s underground parking garage. Since then, five additional charging stations have been installed at state-owned buildings in Honolulu, and another eight chargers have been installed at the motor pool for the state’s new fleet of electric vehicles.
The state awarded another $2.6 million in Recovery Act funds to six organizations charged with promoting, installing, and deploying charging stations and electric vehicles across the state. By April 2012, charging stations will be installed across all counties, as part of the EV Ready grant program. Read the complete story on the DOE Energy Blog.
Tapping Top University Draft Picks to Engineer Solar Championships
By Ramamoorthy Ramesh, Director, SunShot Initiative and Solar Energy Technologies Program
As football fans buzzed February 1 about national signing day for college football prospects, excitement also builds for picks from a different higher education talent pool.
On January 20, DOE announced two university research opportunities to advance the SunShot Initiative, a program that aims to dramatically decrease the total costs of U.S. solar energy.
Like football, research is a team sport, no matter how high-powered any individual player may be. In that spirit, DOE is offering up to $10 million to partners in university-based projects to develop and demonstrate heat transfer fluids. The Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative: High Operating Temperature Fluids solicitation seeks applicants to develop innovative fluids that are more stable than current technologies at temperatures greater than 800°C. The goal is to improve the efficiency of concentrating solar power technologies and cut solar power costs.
The second opportunity is a second round for the SunShot Initiative postdoctoral research awards. The awards, administered by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, provide an annual stipend as well as other benefits. Read the complete story on DOE’s Energy Blog.
Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources (CCRES)