Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources
News and Events March 07, 2013
President Obama Nominates New Energy Department and EPA Heads
President Obama on March 4 nominated Ernest Moniz to replace Steven Chu as Secretary of Energy, and Gina McCarthy to take over U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) leadership from Lisa Jackson. Of his new Energy Secretary nominee, Obama said “Ernie knows that we can produce more energy and grow our economy while still taking care of our air, our water and our climate.” The president praised Moniz, who served as Undersecretary of Energy for President Bill Clinton and directs the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Energy Initiative, which brings together prominent thinkers and energy companies to develop the technologies that can increase energy independence and create new jobs.
In announcing McCarthy’s nomination, President Obama called her a top environmental official in Massachusetts and Connecticut, where she helped design programs to expand energy efficiency and promote renewable energy. She previously served as the assistant administrator of the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. President Obama said both nominees are “going to be making sure that we’re investing in American energy; that we’re doing everything that we can to combat the threat of climate change; that we’re going to be creating jobs and economic opportunity in the first place. They are going to be a great team. And these are some of my top priorities going forward.” See the White House press release.
Agriculture Department Awards $8 Million for Smart Grid Technology
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on February 18 announced that rural electric cooperatives and utilities in 12 states will receive loan guarantees to improve generation and transmission facilities, as well as to implement smart grid technologies. The announcement includes support for more than $8 million in smart grid technologies, which help utilities make efficiency improvements to the electric grid and help consumers lower their electric bills by reducing energy use in homes and businesses. States receiving this USDA smart grid funding are Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Texas.
Smart grid technologies involve adding communication capabilities and control systems to the electrical grid; this is expected to change how people use electricity, resulting in improved home energy management for the homeowner, greater demand control for the utility, and a more reliable power grid overall. Smart grids are also expected to better accommodate the use of renewable energy, all forms of on-site power production, and electric vehicles. See the USDA press release.
GSA Seeks Public Input for Green Building Certification
The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) on February 5 announced that it is seeking additional input from the public regarding the federal government’s use of third-party green building certification systems, which reflect building energy efficiency. GSA published a notice in the Federal Register seeking public comments through April 6, 2013, on how the federal government can best use certification systems to measure the design and performance of the federal government’s construction and major modernization projects. Federal construction and modernization projects must adhere to the government’s own green building requirements, and third party certification systems should help in measuring effectiveness and performance.
GSA is currently evaluating three certification systems for green building standards, including the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) 2009, the Green Building Initiative’s Green Globes, and the International Living Future Institute’s Living Building Challenge. After the public comment period, GSA will use that feedback and make a recommendation to the Energy Department, which could include one system, multiple systems, or no system. See the GSA press release and the notice in the Federal Register.
Ultra-Efficient VW Hybrid to Debut at Geneva Auto Show
Volkswagen (VW) will debut the XL1 hybrid when the 83rd International Motor Show opens on March 7 in Geneva, Switzerland. The automaker calls it “the most fuel-efficient production car in the world” and estimates the vehicle gets 261 miles per gallon (mpg). The plug-in hybrid two-seater can also cover a distance of up to about 31 miles in all-electric mode. The sports car is designed for a top speed of about 100 mph, and has a 20-kW motor and a 2-cylinder, Turbocharged Direct Injection diesel engine. Lightweight carbon fiber-reinforced polymer is used in its construction. The automaker is planning to begin production in 2013.
Also listed as premiering at the show is the Audi A3 Sportback TCNG, which is designed to use synthetic methane, or, as the automaker calls it, renewable “e-gas.” Other concept vehicles will be unveiled at the show as well, which runs through March 17. See the VW press release and the Geneva show website.
St. Louis Launches Plan for More Sustainable Community
St. Louis, regarded as the Gateway to the West, is also becoming the gateway to sustainability for the state of Missouri. Central to increasing energy efficiency in St. Louis has been the Energy Department’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) Program.
St. Louis identified its City Hall, considered the crown jewel of the city’s buildings portfolio, as a building that could benefit from retrofit. Before making upgrades, the city conducted an energy audit of the building and determined that it was only occupied 40% of the year. The city saw an opportunity to reduce energy use for the other 60% of the year when the systems require minimal operation. EECBG funds were leveraged to help meet these energy efficiency goals, including HVAC retrofits, internal lighting upgrades, direct digital control upgrades and whole building lighting upgrades, and resulted in energy savings up to 50%.
Additionally, 52 outdated metal halide lamp fixtures were replaced with LED fixture tops in the City Hall parking structure. The new LED fixtures deliver more useful light where it is needed and use a total of 1.3 kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy—compared to the 7.8 kWh required by the previous lighting—for an energy savings of nearly 83%. For the complete story, see the Energy Blog.
Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources (CCRES)