News and Events March 14, 2012

President Launches DOE’s ‘EV-Everywhere Challenge’

Photo of a car with a large battery displayed in front.

The Obama Administration launched a new program aimed at helping increase acceptance of EVs, such as the Chevy Volt shown with a replica lithium-ion battery.
Credit: GM Corp
President Obama on March 7 launched DOE’s EV-Everywhere Challenge, allowing scientists, engineers, and businesses to collaborate to make electric vehicles (EV) more affordable than gasoline-powered vehicles in 10 years. The challenge is part of a strategy to help reduce dependence on foreign oil.
The DOE initiative, which will bring together DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Program, its Office of Science, and its Advanced Research Projects Agency—Energy (ARPA-E), will aim to make electric vehicles affordable. The team will target dramatic technological and cost improvements in batteries, electric motors, power electronics, lightweight structures, and fast-charging technology. The goal is to enable U.S. companies to be the first to produce a 5-passenger affordable EV with a payback time of fewer than 5 years.
The challenge will involve working with industry, universities, national laboratories, and government partners to set technical goals for cutting costs for the batteries and electric drivetrain systems, reducing the vehicle weights while maintaining safety, and increasing fast-charge rates. As part of the initiative, DOE will organize a series of EV-Everywhere Challenge workshops across the country over the next few months. And, DOE will announce over the next few months a series of additional “Grand Challenges,” each focused on technical innovations and reductions in cost that will enable clean energy technologies to compete directly, without subsidies, with the energy technologies currently in wide use. See the DOE press release and the President’s remarks.

DOE Launches Next Phase of Competition to Create Efficient Lighting

DOE on March 8 launched the next phase of the Bright Tomorrow Lighting Prize (L Prize) competition, which challenges the lighting industry to develop high-performance, energy-saving replacements for conventional light bulbs. The latest competition will spur leading-edge companies to build innovative LED replacements for conventional parabolic aluminized reflector (PAR 38) lamps, commonly known as spot or flood lamps.
Approximately 90 million PAR 38 light bulbs are installed in the United States, and DOE estimates that replacing them with bulbs efficient enough to win the L Prize would save the country 11 terawatt-hours of electricity per year, approximately as much electricity Washington, D.C., consumes each year. The rigorous performance testing needed to win the L Prize ensures that the performance, quality, lifetime, costs, and availability of winning products meet expectations for mass manufacturing and widespread adoption. For the PAR 38 category, at least 50% of the LEDs must be produced in the United States, and all of the assembly must be done here. See the DOE press release and the L Prize website.

DOE Offers $5.2 Million for Building Efficiency Technologies

DOE announced on March 9 the availability of up to $5.2 million in fiscal year 2012 to develop improved building efficiency technologies. This funding opportunity includes advanced heating and cooling systems and high efficiency insulation, windows, and roofs. The funding will advance the research and development, demonstration, and manufacture of innovative building technologies to speed the commercialization of affordable, high-performance products.
Homes and commercial buildings consume approximately 40% of the energy used in the United States, costing American consumers more than $400 billion annually. Nearly a third of that energy is used for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC). Advancing HVAC building technologies and improving the design and materials that make up a building’s “envelope” or air seal will significantly reduce the cost of heating and cooling residential and commercial buildings. DOE seeks applicants for funding to support breakthroughs in energy-saving HVAC systems and building envelope solutions. Mechanical HVAC system projects should aim to increase the efficiency of cost-effective systems and components suitable for both existing buildings and new construction, while building envelope projects will focus on advancing high-performance cost-effective ways to minimize energy loss in homes and commercial buildings, particularly existing buildings. Applications will be accepted through April 17, 2012. See the DOE Progress Alert and DOE’s Funding Opportunity Exchange website.

Four Major Firms Join National Clean Fleets Partnership

DOE announced on March 5 that four new corporate partners—Best Buy, Johnson Controls, Pacific Gas and Electric, and Veolia—are joining DOE’s National Clean Fleets Partnership, a broad public-private partnership that helps the largest fleet operators reduce how much gasoline and diesel they use. The new partners join 14 other major national companies in committing to improve the fuel economy of the commercial fleets and integrate alternative technology vehicles such as natural gas trucks and electric vehicles into their fleets. National Clean Fleets Partners operate more than a million commercial vehicles nationwide, accounting for more than 12% of all commercial vehicles on U.S. roads.
Under the partnership, DOE experts provide each company with specialized resources, technical expertise, and support in developing a comprehensive strategy to reduce fuel use and achieve greater efficiency and cost-savings. DOE also helps connect partners with clean fuel providers and equipment manufacturers where their fleets operate.
The new partners have already begun taking action to develop and implement fuel-efficiency projects in their fleets. For example, Best Buy reduced its 5,000-vehicle fleet’s carbon emissions by 21%, by taking steps including using the smallest, most fuel-efficient vehicles for the job. And Johnson Controls has committed to designing and delivering increasingly sustainable products, as well introducing more than 500 hybrids and all-electric vehicles to its 19,000 vehicles worldwide. See the DOE press release and the National Clean Fleets Partnership Web page.


  special thanks to U.S. Department of Energy |

Energy 101 Video: Lumens

On March 8, DOE launched the next phase of the Bright Tomorrow Lighting Prize (L Prize), a competition that pushes for accelerated innovation and drives industry to create more energy-saving lighting options.
And, with more high-performance, high-efficiency lighting options set to appear on store shelves, it’s time to change the way we shop for light.
Think about it: For decades, we have been buying light bulbs based on watts or how much energy they consume.
But with new lighting options designed to use significantly less energy, buying bulbs based on watts is no longer a reliable way to gauge the right level of brightness. That instead takes lumens, which measure how much light you get from a bulb. More lumens means it’s a brighter light; fewer lumens means it’s a dimmer light. Read the complete story in the DOE Energy Blog.

Not a Long Time Ago in an Energy Efficient Galaxy Not Very Far Away

A manufacturer of crystalline solar cells has opened a new manufacturing facility for the assembly of solar panels by plant staff and robots in Milwaukee as a result of American Recovery and Recovery Act funds from the DOE’s State Energy Program (SEP).
Helios USA, LLC, is Wisconsin’s first manufacturer of high-performance solar modules for deployment in residential, commercial, industrial, and utility-based solar electric systems. The company will supply solar panels to a number of customers.
With a $1.4 million loan from SEP, Helios assembles solar panels in the newly opened facility, located in what was previously an abandoned manufacturing plant in the Menomonee Valley area of Milwaukee, with the help of staff and assistance from robots when “superhuman” precision and sensitivity is needed. As of December 2011, the Helios manufacturing plant has supported 26 jobs, and it is projected to create a total of 50 permanent jobs in the state. Read the complete story in DOE’s Energy Blog.