Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources
News and Events June 21, 2013
Drivers Can Compare Gasoline and Electric Fuel Prices with eGallon
The Energy Department on June 11 launched the eGallon—a way for consumers to compare the costs of fueling electric vehicles versus driving on gasoline. The current national average eGallon price is about $1.14, meaning that a typical electric vehicle could travel as far on $1.14 worth of electricity as a similar vehicle could travel on a gallon of gasoline.
On Energy.gov/eGallon, consumers can see the latest eGallon price for their state and compare it to the price of gasoline. Over time, consumers will notice that the eGallon price will be far more stable and predictable than gasoline prices. That’s because the eGallon price depends on electricity prices, which historically are very stable; gasoline prices depend on the global oil market, which can be very unstable and are often influenced by unpredictable international events.
The eGallon provides a metric that is easily comparable to the traditional gallon of unleaded fuel. That comparison is made by calculating how much it would cost to drive an electric vehicle the same distance a similar conventional vehicle could travel on a gallon of gasoline. For example, if gasoline costs $3.60 per gallon in your state and the eGallon price for your state is $1.20, that means that for $1.20 worth of electricity you can drive the same distance as you could for $3.60 worth of gasoline. The eGallon price varies from state to state based on the price of electricity. See the Energy Department press release.
Energy Department Invests in Next Generation Efficient Lighting
The Energy Department on June 4 announced five manufacturing research and development projects to support energy-efficient lighting products. The projects will focus on reducing manufacturing costs, while continuing to improve the quality and performance of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs). The Energy Department’s $10 million investment is matched dollar for dollar by private sector funding.
According to a new report by the Energy Department, LED lamps and fixtures installed in the United States have increased tenfold over the last two years—from 4.5 million units in 2010 to 49 million units in 2012. These installations, which include common indoor and outdoor applications such as recessed lighting and streetlights, are expected to save about $675 million in annual energy costs. During the same period, the cost of an LED replacement bulb has fallen by about 54%. Switching entirely to LED lights over the next two decades could save the United States $250 billion in energy costs and reduce electricity consumption for lighting by nearly 50%. By 2030, LED lighting is projected to represent about 75% of all lighting sales, saving enough energy to power approximately 26 million U.S. households.
Projects selected include: Cree Inc. (Durham, North Carolina) will develop a modular design for LED lights that can link together multiple units to fit larger areas; Eaton Corporation (Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin) will develop an innovative manufacturing process that streamlines the LED fixture design and removes unnecessary materials and parts; LEDWorks, (Rochester, New York) will develop and demonstrate new spray-printing equipment that reduces overall manufacturing costs and could help support cost-competitive mass production; Philips Lumileds (San Jose, California) will develop an alternative to the standard flip-chip device that grows an LED face-down on the sapphire substrate; and PPG Industries, Inc. (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) will develop a cost-effective manufacturing process to help commercialize an integrated substrate that includes the glass foundation as well as the other necessary layers. See the Energy Department Press Release.
Energy Department Offers $9 Million to Advance Hydrogen Technologies
The Energy Department on June 11 announced up to $9 million in new funding to accelerate the development of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies for use in vehicles, backup power systems, and hydrogen refueling components. The Energy Department will fund up to eight projects from industry, academia, and national labs. These investments will strengthen U.S. leadership in cost-effective hydrogen and fuel cell technologies and help industry bring these technologies into the marketplace at lower cost.
Projects selected for funding will demonstrate, deploy, and validate hydrogen and fuel cell technologies in real-world environments. These efforts aim to reduce the costs of hydrogen and fuel cells industry-wide, expand critical infrastructure, and build a solid domestic supplier base. Selected projects will represent a wide variety of applications with potential for widespread commercialization.
Topic areas include fuel cell medium-duty trucks; advanced hydrogen refueling components; rooftop installations of hydrogen-fuel-cell-backup power systems; and hydrogen meter research and development. See the Energy Department Progress Alert.
New Building Performance Database Launched by Energy Department
The Energy Department on June 17 launched the new Buildings Performance Database, the largest free, publicly available database of residential and commercial building energy performance information. This database will allow users to access energy performance data and perform statistical analyses on more than 60,000 commercial and residential buildings across the country, and new records are being added regularly. The database includes buildings’ location; age; size and function; electricity and fuel consumption; equipment information and operational characteristics. The data can also be used to compare performance trends among similar buildings, identify and prioritize cost-saving energy efficiency improvements, and assess the range of likely savings from these improvements. An application programming interface (API) will allow external software developers to incorporate analytical results from the database into their own tools and services.
The database tools have been designed to meet the content and usability needs of public agencies, building owners and managers, contractors, energy efficiency program administrators, and financial institutions, with over 1,000 users testing the site since March 2013. The Department hopes that public and private stakeholders will continue to submit data and expand the resource. All data is made anonymous and protected by stringent privacy and security protocols.
Currently, commercial and residential buildings account for approximately 70% of the electricity consumption in the nation. The database strengthens the Department’s commitment to provide U.S. industry, state and local governments, and researchers with innovative energy data tools that can help cut energy waste and save money. The database was developed for the Department’s Building Technologies Office by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Building Energy Inc. See the Energy Department Progress Alert.
DOI Announces First Offshore Renewable Energy Lease Sale
The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) and its Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) on June 4 announced that BOEM will hold the first-ever competitive lease sale for wind energy on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf. The auction, scheduled to take place on July 31, will offer 164,750 acres offshore Rhode Island and Massachusetts for commercial wind energy leasing. The area being auctioned is located 9.2 nautical miles south of the Rhode Island coastline.
The area has the potential for an installed capacity of 3,395 megawatts, according to a report recently released by the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory. This total could supply enough electricity to power more than 1 million homes.
BOEM issued a revised environmental assessment (EA) for commercial wind lease issuance within the Wind Energy Area offshore of Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The EA considers reasonable foreseeable environmental and socioeconomic impacts from issuing renewable energy leases. The EA also considers the impacts of conducting site characterization such as surveys and assessment activities such as installation and operation of meteorological towers and buoys. As a result of the analysis in the revised EA, BOEM issued a “Finding of No Significant Impact,” which concluded that reasonably foreseeable environmental effects associated with the commercial wind lease would not significantly impact the environment. See the DOI press release, the final sale notice in the Federal Register, and BOEM’s EA and Finding of No Significant Impact .
DOI Approves Three Renewable Energy Projects in Arizona and Nevada
The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) on June 3 announced the approval of three major renewable energy projects in Arizona and Nevada that are expected to deliver up to 520 megawatts (MW) to the electricity grid. When built, the projects will generate enough power for nearly 200,000 homes.
The 350-megawatt Midland Solar Energy Project and the 70-megawatt New York Canyon Geothermal Project are located in Nevada. The Midland Solar Project will be built on private lands about 7 miles southwest from Boulder City, Nevada, and will cross 76 acres of federal transmission corridor. The New York Canyon Geothermal Project and electrical transmission facility will be built on 15,135 acres of land managed by the DOI’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) about 25 miles east of Lovelock, Nevada, in Pershing County.
The 100-megawatt Quartzsite Solar Energy Project, located on 1,600 acres of BLM-managed lands in La Paz County, Arizona, will use concentrating solar power (CSP) technology with integrated thermal energy storage technology. CSP technologies use mirrors in heliostats to reflect and concentrate sunlight onto a central tower to produce heat, where liquid molten salt captures and stores the thermal energy which is then used to produce electricity. CSP systems are distinguished from other solar energy technologies by their ability to store energy as heat so that consumer demand can be met even when the sun is not shining, including during the night.
The BLM has identified an additional 15 active renewable energy proposals slated for review this year and next. BLM identified these projects through a process that emphasizes early consultation and collaboration with its sister agencies at DOI—the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Park Service. See the DOI press release and the BLM website.
NREL Highlights 2012 Utility Green Power Leaders
The Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) on June 5 released its assessment of leading utility green power programs. Under these voluntary programs, residential and commercial consumers can choose to help support additional electricity production from renewable resources such as wind and solar. The top 10 programs support more than 4.2 million megawatt hours /year (MWh/year) of voluntary green power.
Using information provided by utilities, NREL has developed “Top 10” rankings of utility green power programs for 2012 in the following categories: total sales of renewable energy to program participants; total number of customer participants; the percentage of customer participation; green power sales as a percentage of total utility retail electricity sales; and the lowest price premium charged for a green power program using new renewable resources.
Ranked by renewable energy sales in terms of MWh/year, Portland General Electric (Oregon) overtook Austin Energy in Austin, Texas, in 2012, selling the largest amount of renewable energy in the nation through its voluntary green power program. Dominion Virginia Power and Oklahoma Gas & Electric are new to the top renewable energy sales list. Ranked by the percentage of customer participation, the top utilities are City of Palo Alto Utilities (California), followed by Portland General Electric, Madison Gas and Electric Company (Wisconsin), Sacramento Municipal Utility District, the City of Naperville (Illinois) and Pacific Power (Oregon). In addition, six utilities provided green power supply that included at least 2% solar. See the NREL press release and the Green Power website.
Federal and Industry Partners Issue Challenge to Manufacturers
A coalition that includes the U.S. federal government and more than 200 major commercial building partners has recently challenged U.S. manufacturers to build wireless sub-meters that cost less than $100 apiece. The U.S. Federal Energy Management Program and U.S. General Services Administration are among the organizations issuing the challenge.
A group of at least 18 manufacturers has already agreed to take up the challenge, pledging to produce devices that will meet the specifications outlined by the Energy Department and its private sector partners that have signed letters of intent to purchase the wireless sub-meters. The Energy Department worked with members of its Better Buildings Alliance and federal agencies to develop a performance-based manufacturing specification, and will offer third party verification that the wireless building metering systems meet the performance specifications.
Electricity sub-meters provide building operators with the information they need to identify opportunities for savings. For example, a large commercial building might pay $10,000 a month or more for electricity, but not have any way to detect which systems are consuming the most electricity. A wireless sub-meter could be installed at various electrical panels throughout the building to give a more detailed picture of where the electricity is being used, thereby helping to identify savings. It might also allow commercial building operators to bill individual tenants for their electricity usage, creating an incentive for energy efficiency. Wireless sub-meters typically cost about $1,000 per installation now, so the goal is to reduce the cost by about 90%. The Department’s Washington, D.C. headquarters, the James A. Forrestal Building, will be used as a testing facility. See the Energy Department press release and the Better Buildings Alliance website.
Building a 21st Century Electric Grid
As part of President Obama’s initiative to make America a magnet for jobs by building a 21st century infrastructure, on June 7 he signed a Presidential Memorandum that will speed the modernization of the nation’s electric grid. This will help make electricity more reliable, save consumers money on their energy bills, and support homegrown American clean energy jobs and industries by making renewable energy easier to access across the country.
Transmission projects often cover hundreds of miles and involve multiple federal, tribal, state and local jurisdictions with diverse interests and responsibilities. Collaborating early to minimize duplication and delays is vital to getting critical projects to construction to better serve American homes and businesses. The June 7 Presidential Memorandum directs federal agencies to create an integrated pre-application process across the federal government to help identify and address issues before the formal permit application process begins, and streamline the coordination of permitting processes across the federal, state, and tribal governments.
The memorandum also directs agencies to identify and improve the use of energy corridors on federal lands that are most suitable for siting electric transmission projects, to help expedite permitting while improving environmental and community outcomes. These energy corridors are designed to reduce regulatory conflicts, minimize negative impacts on natural and cultural resources and address concerns of local communities, decreasing the potential for permitting delays. For these corridors, agencies will work together to integrate new and innovative ways to avoid, minimize and mitigate the impact on environmental and cultural resources. The memorandum also prioritizes meaningful engagement with stakeholders and the public to arrive at the best quality projects with the least conflicts and most support. For the complete story, see the Energy Blog.
Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources (CCRES)