Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources
News and Events February 09, 2013
The Energy Department announced on January 31 that 13 major U.S. employers and eight stakeholder groups have joined the new Workplace Charging Challenge to help expand access to workplace charging stations across the country. The Workplace Charging Challenge is a collaborative effort to increase the number of U.S. employers offering workplace charging by tenfold in the next five years. The first 13 employers have signed the Workplace Charging Pledge as partners, including 3M, the Chrysler Group, Duke Energy, Eli Lilly and Company, the Ford Motor Company, General Electric, General Motors, Google, Nissan, the San Diego Gas & Electric Company, Siemens, Tesla Motors, and Verizon. The pledge commits each partner organization to assess workforce charging demands for plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) and to develop and implement a plan to install workplace charging infrastructure for at least one major worksite location.
Eight stakeholder organizations also have signed the Ambassador Pledge to develop and execute plans to support and promote the workplace charging initiative, including: the California PEV Collaborative, CALSTART, the Electric Drive Transportation Association, the Electrification Coalition, the International Parking Institute, NextEnergy, Plug In America, and the Rocky Mountain Institute. The Energy Department will provide technical assistance and establish a forum for partners and ambassadors to share information.
The Workplace Charging Challenge supports the broader efforts of the Department’s EV Everywhere Grand Challenge, announced by President Obama in March 2012, to make PEVs as affordable and convenient for American families as gasoline-powered vehicles within the next 10 years. As part of the announcement, the Department released the EV Everywhere Grand Challenge Blueprint, which describes PEV technology and deployment barriers, as well as steps to move forward in achieving the EV Everywhere goal. See the Energy Department press release and the EV Everywhere Grand Challenge Blueprint and webpage.
The Energy Department announced on January 30 its selection of seven data-driven projects to unearth new opportunities for reducing solar energy costs and accelerating solar energy deployment in the United States. The Department will invest about $9 million in the seven projects, located in six states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Texas. The projects are part of the SunShot Initiative, a collaborative national effort to make solar energy cost-competitive with other forms of energy by the end of the decade.
For four of the projects, the Energy Department will provide $7 million to research teams led by Sandia National Laboratories, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Yale University, and the University of Texas – Austin (UT-Austin). These teams will partner with public and private financial institutions, utilities, and state agencies to apply statistical and computational tools to solve industry problems and lead regional pilot projects across the country to test the impact and scalability of their innovations.
For example, Yale University researchers will partner with SmartPower’s New England Solar Challenge to design and implement innovative strategies that can increase the effectiveness of community-led bulk purchase programs for solar power. The team from the UT-Austin will work with complex datasets from six Texas utilities to better understand customer needs and identify opportunities to streamline installation and interconnection. Similarly, NREL will develop a computational model to analyze data from a network of U.S. solar installers and help identify new types of community- and regional-scale strategies to drive down financing and deployment costs.
The Department will also invest $2 million in three projects led by the University of North Carolina – Charlotte (UNC Charlotte), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and SRI International to analyze decades of scientific publications, patents, and cost and production data. SRI International will develop advanced software that reads and analyzes thousands of scientific publications and patents to discover new ways to speed solar energy technology innovation and commercialization. Meanwhile, MIT and UNC Charlotte will apply computational tools to patent, cost, and production data to speed up solar technology cost reductions and better forecast future cost reductions for new energy technologies. See the Energy Department press release and the full list of projects.
The U.S. wind energy industry had its strongest year ever in 2012, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) announced on January 30. The industry installed a record 13,124 megawatts (MW) of U.S. electric generating capacity last year, achieving over 60,000 MW of cumulative wind capacity, enough to power almost 15 million homes. The annual total far surpasses the previous record of 10,000 MW installed in 2010. For the first time, wind energy became the number one source of new U.S. electric generating capacity, providing 42% of all new generating capacity.
In last year’s fourth quarter alone, 8,380 MW were installed, making it the strongest quarter in U.S. wind power history. AWEA noted that this was due in large part to impending expiration of the federal Production Tax Credit. It was slated to end on December 31, 2012, but was extended by Congress as part of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012.
The top 10 states for new capacity installations in 2012, in order, were Texas (1,826 MW), California (1,656 MW), Kansas (1,440 MW), Oklahoma (1,127 MW), Illinois (823 MW), Iowa (814 MW), Oregon (640 MW), Michigan (611 MW), Pennsylvania (550 MW), and Colorado (496 MW). The Golden State regained its position as the second largest state in installed wind capacity, surpassing Iowa, which had been number two since 2008. California achieved the 5,000-MW milestone in wind capacity, following Texas, and alongside Iowa. See the AWEA press release.
The Energy Department on January 28 announced about $6 million for projects that will develop and demonstrate supply-chain technologies to affordably deliver commercial-scale lignocellulosic biomass feedstocks such as woody plant tissue to biorefineries across the country. This funding will help accelerate the development of integrated, cost-effective supply-chain systems that reduce time and costs to produce biofuels for cars, trucks, and airplanes.
The Department will make available about $6 million this year for one to two multi-year projects. All selected projects will require a cost share contribution by the grant recipient, including 20% for research and development activities and 50% for demonstration activities. See the Energy Department Progress Alert and the full funding announcement.
The Energy Department on January 30 announced the second round of the Strategic Technical Assistance Response Team (START) Program, which provides federally recognized Tribal governments with technical assistance to accelerate clean energy project deployment. Additionally, the Energy Department plans to seek information from tribes interested in launching or expanding utility services in their own communities, which will help establish a new START Utility Program (START-UP). Additional details on this effort will be available on the Office of Indian Energy website in the coming weeks.
Over the past year, the START program has helped nine Tribal communities advance their clean energy technology and infrastructure projects, from solar and wind to biofuels and energy efficiency. The second round of technical assistance awards will build upon the initial successes of the START program and further help Native American and Alaska Native communities increase local generation capacity, enhance energy-efficiency measures, and create local entrepreneurial and job opportunities. In the contiguous United States, Energy Department and national laboratory experts will provide technical assistance on tribes’ clean energy project development. In Alaska, the Energy Department and the Denali Commission will help rural Alaska Native communities conduct energy awareness and training programs and pursue new renewable energy and energy efficiency opportunities. Applications are due by March 15, 2013. See the Energy Department press release and the Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs webpage.
Letter from Secretary Steven Chu to Energy Department Employees Announces His Decision Not to Serve a Second Term
In a letter to Energy Department employees on February 1, Energy Secretary Steven Chu highlighted the tremendous progress of the last four years and announced his decision to not serve a second term as Secretary. Text of the letter is below.
Serving the country as Secretary of Energy, and working alongside such an extraordinary team of people at the Department, has been the greatest privilege of my life. While the job has had many challenges, it has been an exciting time for the Department, the country, and for me personally.
I’ve always been inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, who articulated his Dream of an America where people are judged not by skin color but “by the content of their character.” In the scientific world, people are judged by the content of their ideas. Advances are made with new insights, but the final arbitrator of any point of view are experiments that seek the unbiased truth, not information cherry picked to support a particular point of view. The power of our work is derived from this foundation.
For the rest of Secretary Chu’s letter, see the Energy Blog.
Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources (CCRES)