Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources
News and Events April 05, 2013
EPA, Energy Department Recognize 2013 Energy Star Partners of the Year
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Energy Department on March 26 recognized 118 awardees for their commitment to saving energy and protecting the environment. Recipients of the 2013 Energy Star Partner of the Year Award include Sears Holdings Corporation, PepsiCo, JC Penney, Food Lion, USAA Real Estate, Loudoun County Public Schools in Virginia, and Toyota.
The winners were chosen from nearly 20,000 Energy Star partners, including manufacturers, retailers, public schools, hospitals, real estate companies, and home builders, for their long-term commitment to climate protection through greater energy efficiency. Energy Star partners complete a rigorous application process that demonstrates their commitment to the partnership and the environment.
Organizations are recognized in several categories. The Sustained Excellence awards went to 70 organizations for exceptional leadership year after year in the Energy Star program and their dedication to environmental protection through superior energy efficiency. The “Partners of the Year” honors were bestowed on 41 organizations for strategically and comprehensively managing their energy use. The seven “Excellence Award” winners received recognition in part for their superior efforts in the Home Performance with the Energy Star program as well as specific activities to promote energy-efficient products, homes, or buildings. See the EPA press release and the complete list of winners.
BLM Seeks Solar Energy Proposals for Colorado Lands
The U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is seeking proposed solar energy development projects on 3,714 acres of BLM-managed land in Conejos and Saguache counties in southwestern Colorado. The BLM’s current actions come after two years of planning to pave the way for utility-scale solar development on public lands that will be capable of producing 20 megawatts or more of energy. The 60-day public notice appeared in the Federal Register on March 22, 2013. See the Federal Register notice.
This public notification is the first step to possible competitive solar energy development on public lands in the San Luis Valley. Last year, EPG Solar 1, LLC filed applications to develop solar energy on public lands within the De Tilla Gulch and Los Mogotes East Solar Energy Zones. Once the 60-day notice period closes, the BLM will review all submissions to see if other companies are interested in developing solar energy in these areas. See the BLM press release.
Air Force Announces Energy Efficiency Achievements, New Energy Plan
The U.S. Air Force on March 21 highlighted its recent energy use reductions, touting savings of $1.5 billion in energy costs in 2012, and announced current initiatives under the new Air Force Energy Strategic Plan. The Air Force is the largest single consumer of energy in the federal government, and in fiscal year 2012, spent more than $9 billion for energy, with more than 85% of those costs in aviation fuel. However, the service has already significantly reduced energy consumption and increased use of renewable energy, helping drive down its energy costs.
In addition to cutting fuel use, the Air Force also reduced facility energy intensity by more than 21% since 2003 and is on track to meet its goal of reducing energy intensity by 37.5% by 2020. Last year, 5.5% of the Air Force’s electricity came from renewable energy sources, and by 2025, it plans to get 25% of its electricity from renewable energy.
The new energy plan, the first update since 2010, calls for an increase in on-site energy production through renewable energy. In 2006, the Air Force set a goal of reducing aviation fuel consumption 10 percent by 2015. The military branch is also following a net-zero approach to water and energy installation to help meet a 2030 federal net-zero energy goal for all new facility construction and alterations. See the Air Force press release and the Air Force Energy Strategic Plan .
JBEI Researchers Engineer Plant Cell Walls to Boost Sugar Yields for Biofuels
Researchers at the Energy Department’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) are taking major steps toward achieving new breakthroughs for biofuels using lignocellulosic biomass, the most abundant organic material on Earth. This ample resource could supply the sugars needed to produce advanced biofuels, which can supplement or replace fossil fuels if several key technical challenges are met. One of these challenges is finding ways to more cost-effectively extract those sugars.
The JBEI, a scientific partnership led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), advances the development of next-generation biofuels that can provide renewable transportation energy. JBEI researchers have focused on reducing the natural resistance of plant cell walls to release their sugars. In the past, extracting sugars from their lignin cage has required the use of expensive and environmentally harsh chemicals at high temperatures, a process that can drive production costs of advance biofuels prohibitively high.
In order to achieve the partnership’s goal, researchers rewired the regulation of lignin production—or biosynthesis—in engineered plants and created an artificial positive feedback loop to enhance secondary cell wall biosynthesis in specific tissues. This reduces the resistance of plant cell walls and boosts sugar content without impacting plant development. Now, the researchers believe their lignin rewiring strategy could also be transferrable to other plant species, and are working to improve the technique. See the LBNL press release.
National Parks Move Transportation Forward in America’s Great Outdoors
America’s National Parks have always attracted pioneers in transportation. In the early 1900s, the new transcontinental railroad encouraged people to “See America First,” particularly the National Parks. Today, the National Park Service is leading by example. Working in partnership with the Energy Department’s Clean Cities National Parks Initiative, National Parks across the country are using alternative fuels and advanced vehicle technologies to reduce air pollution and lower fuel costs.
Building on the success of its existing National Park Service projects, Clean Cities is now partnering with five additional parks to implement specific projects that improve the parks’ environment and increase the sustainability of their operations. Most of the projects focus on shifting many of the parks’ vehicles to run on alternative fuels, such as propane, biodiesel and electricity—a transition that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality, and minimize fuel costs.
The projects will also educate park visitors on improving the sustainability of their own driving habits to reduce greenhouse gas emissions during park visits and when they return home. For example, parks such as Yellowstone and Grand Teton are educating visitors on the benefits of reducing the amount of time they idle their cars or visiting sites in the parks by biking, walking, or using park shuttles. If just 25% of visitors at the 13 parks in the Clean Cities National Parks Initiative reduce their idling by five minutes, it would save 192,000 gallons of gasoline and more than 2,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year. For the complete story, see the Energy Blog.
Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources (CCRES)