Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources

News and Events August 10, 2012

Energy Department to Award $43 Million for Energy Storage Technologies

The Energy Department announced on August 2 that 19 new projects will receive a total of $43 million from the department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) to develop breakthrough energy storage technologies. The projects will focus on innovations in battery management and storage to advance electric vehicle (EV) technologies, help improve the efficiency and reliability of the electrical grid, and provide important energy security benefits to U.S. armed forces. The projects are supported by two new ARPA-E programs: Advanced Management and Protection of Energy Storage Devices (AMPED) and Small Business Innovation Research.
Twelve research projects are receiving $30 million in funding under the AMPED program, which aims to develop advanced sensing and control technologies that could dramatically improve grid-scale and vehicle batteries. Unlike other Energy Department efforts to push the frontiers of battery chemistry, AMPED is focused on maximizing the potential of existing battery chemistries. These innovations will help reduce costs and improve the performance of next-generation storage technologies, which could be applied in both plug-in and hybrid EVs. For example, Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus, Ohio, will develop an optical sensor to monitor the internal environment of a lithium-ion battery in real-time.
ARPA-E is also awarding $13 million to seven enterprising small businesses that are pursuing cutting-edge energy storage developments for stationary power and electric vehicles. These businesses will develop novel battery chemistries and battery designs as part of the larger department-wide Small Business Innovative Research/Small Business Technology Transfer program. For example, Energy Storage Systems, Inc., in Portland, Oregon, will construct a flow battery for grid-scale storage using an advanced cell design and electrolyte materials composed of low cost iron. See the Energy Department press release.

Defense, Interior Departments Pursue Renewable Energy on Federal Lands

Photo of a large field of solar panels in the desert.

The Defense Department is ramping up its deployment of renewable energy systems, such as this 14-megawatt solar power system at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, which provides about a quarter of the base’s electricity needs.
Credit: Nellis AFB
The Interior Department announced on August 6 that Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that encourages appropriate development of renewable energy projects on public lands that are set aside for defense-related purposes, and on other onshore and offshore areas near military installations. The MOU establishes the Renewable Energy Partnership Plan, which aims to harness the solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass energy resources located on or near military installations across the country.
Department of Defense (DoD) installations encompass roughly 28 million acres in the United States, including 16 million acres previously managed by the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) that were withdrawn for military use. About 13 million acres of these withdrawn lands are located in the West and are rich in wind, solar, and geothermal resources. In addition, offshore wind is an abundant renewable energy resource available to many DoD installations on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, along the Gulf of Mexico, and in Hawaii.
Access to renewable energy will allow a military base to maintain critical functions for weeks or months if the commercial grid goes down. To keep the military operating in the event of a grid failure, each of the military services has committed to deploy one gigawatt of renewable energy on or near its installations by 2025. In pursuit of these goals, the MOU establishes a framework for an offshore wind partnership and forum; provides a blueprint for Interior and the DoD to identify onshore renewable energy projects at DoD installations; creates a working group on geothermal energy; and commits the DoD and the BLM to developing a pilot process for authorizing solar energy projects on several military installations in Arizona and California. See the Interior Department press release and the MOUPDF.

USDA Supports Growers of Feedstocks for Advanced Biofuels

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on July 27 a total of $19.4 million in payments to 125 advanced biofuel producers to support the production of advanced biofuels from a wide variety of non-food sources, including waste products. The funding will be provided through USDA’s Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels, which makes payments to eligible producers based on the amount of biofuels a recipient produces from renewable biomass, other than corn kernel starch. Eligible feedstocks include crop residue; animal, food, and yard waste; vegetable oil; and animal fat.
For example, Somerset Hardwood Flooring in Somerset, Kentucky, will receive a $7,040 payment for producing wood pellets from residual sawdust from its hardwood flooring manufacturing process. The company produces about 40 tons of wood pellets annually. Likewise, FPE Renewables, LLC, based in Lyden, Washington, will receive a payment of $9,612 for using dairy waste to produce biogas, which is then converted to electricity. And Virginia Biodiesel Refinery in West Point, Virginia, will receive a payment of $7,900 for making biodiesel from soybean and recycled cooking oil. See the USDA press release.

Six New England States Launch Regional Renewable Energy Initiative

The New England Governors’ Conference on July 30 passed a resolution to launch a coordinated regional procurement of renewable energy. The leaders of six states—Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont—have agreed to release a request for proposals (RFP) in 2013 for a significant amount of renewable energy.
The resolution charges The New England States Committee on Electricity (NESCOE) with developing and implementing a work plan on behalf of the New England Governors that will result in the release of a renewable energy RFP. NESCOE will convene a procurement team from each state that will finalize the details of the competitive regional procurement over the course of the next year.
This concept has been successfully used on the state level in the past. For example, Massachusetts has its own version of a competitive procurement for renewable energy in The Green Communities Act, which requires utilities to enter into long-term contracts with the developers of renewable energy projects in order to help them obtain financing. See the Massachusetts press release and the procurement resolutionPDF.


  special thanks to U.S. Department of Energy |

Houses of Bark and Energy of Sunshine

Highland Craftsmen Inc., a small poplar bark shingle manufacturer in North Carolina, recently achieved the energy efficiency milestone of net zero electricity use with funds provided through the Energy Department’s State Energy Program (SEP) under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act). The owners, Marty and Chris McCurry, installed photovoltaic panels at their manufacturing plant to generate electricity, and they upgraded controls, piping, and flooring to improve the operation of three natural gas kilns that dry locally purchased wood. The grants were provided by the North Carolina Department of Commerce’s Green Business Fund using Recovery Act SEP funds and were administered by the North Carolina Energy Office.
The energy efficiency upgrades will help the company produce its Bark House Brand siding with net zero electricity use, which means the operation will produce at least as much electricity as it uses in one year. The solar installation will decrease Highland Craftsmen’s electric bills by $6,000 per year, enabling the company to sell the excess power back to the grid. The kiln upgrade, which is expected to improve kiln efficiency by 40 percent, will account for $5,000 in energy savings. For the complete story, see the Energy Blog.

Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources (CCRES)