Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources

News and Events July 08, 2013

President Obama Touts Renewable Energy, Efficiency in Climate Plan

President Obama announced on June 25 his climate action plan, which includes significant goals related to renewable energy and energy efficiency. The plan directs the U.S. Department of the Interior to issue permits by 2020 for enough renewable energy projects on public lands to power 6 million homes, while also designating the first-ever hydropower project for priority permitting, setting a new goal to install 100 megawatts of renewable energy on federally assisted housing by 2020, and maintaining the existing commitment to deploy renewable energy projects on military installations. The plan also expands the president’s Better Buildings Challenge to help a wide range of buildings become at least 20% more energy efficient by 2020; sets a goal to reduce carbon emissions by at least 3 billion metric tons by 2030 through efficiency standards for appliances and federal buildings; and commits to partnering with industry and stakeholders to develop fuel economy standards for heavy-duty vehicles.
“A low-carbon, clean energy economy can be an engine of growth for decades to come,” said President Obama. “And I want America to build that engine.”
The president’s climate action plan also directs the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to establish carbon pollution standards for both new and existing power plants, while making up to $8 billion in loan guarantees available for advanced fossil energy projects. It also leverages new opportunities to reduce emissions of highly potent greenhouse gases known as hydrofluorocarbons, directs agencies to develop a comprehensive methane strategy, and commits to protecting our forests and critical landscapes. The climate action plan also commits the United States to lead international efforts to address climate change, while proposing a number of actions to help prepare the United States for the impacts of climate change. See the president’s announcement, the associated White House fact sheet, and a set of infographics on the climate action plan.

Energy Department Invests $13 Million in Next-Generation Biofuels

Photo of an aquarium-sized glass box holding multiple cylinders of bright green algae.

Drop-in biofuels can be made from non-food biomass sources, such as algae, shown growing here in a tent reactor at the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
Credit: Dennis Schroeder, NREL
The Energy Department on July 1 announced its investment of $13 million in four research and development projects that aim to accelerate the deployment and cut the cost of next-generation biofuels. The projects—located in Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin—support the Energy Department goal of producing cost-competitive drop-in biofuels at $3 per gallon by 2017. Drop-in biofuels are made from non-food sources but are almost indistinguishable from conventional fuels. They can include bio-oil, a biobased crude oil substitute that can be processed in a refinery, as well as biobased substitutes for gasoline, diesel fuel, and jet fuel.
The four selected projects include an effort by Ceramatec of Salt Lake City, Utah, to use an electrochemical process to remove oxygen from bio-oil, making it more suitable for processing in a refinery; a project led by the Energy Department’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory to use a microbial electrolysis process to remove the hydrogen from the water found in bio-oil, making the bio-oil production process more efficient and the bio-oil less corrosive; an investigation by the University of Oklahoma in Norman into the use of heat and solvents to convert biomass into a refinery-compatible intermediate chemical; and an effort by Virent, Inc., of Madison, Wisconsin, to develop an innovative separation process that will work with the company’s proprietary process to convert biomass into drop-in fuels. The Energy Department’s Idaho National Laboratory will help with feedstock pre-processing for the Virent project. See the Energy Department Progress Alert.

Interior Department Approves a 500-MW Wind Project in Arizona

The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) announced on June 28 that it has approved a 500-megawatt (MW) wind energy project in Arizona. The Mohave County Wind Farm will be located on federal lands in northwestern Arizona, about 40 miles northwest of Kingman. Proposed by BP Wind Energy North America, Inc., the wind farm will consist of up to 243 wind turbines. The decision paves the way for right-of-way grants for the use of approximately 37,800 acres of federal land, while providing a 1.2-mile buffer zone to protect nearby nesting locations for golden eagles and assuring that no turbine will be erected within a quarter-mile of private property. See the DOI fact sheetPDF and mapPDF of the proposed project.
DOI has approved 46 wind, solar, and geothermal utility-scale projects on public lands since 2009, including associated transmission corridors and infrastructure to connect to established power grids. When built, these projects could provide enough electricity to power more than 4.4 million homes and support more than 17,000 construction and operations jobs. DOI’s Bureau of Land Management has identified 14 additional renewable energy proposals that are slated for review this year and next. See the DOI press release.

Interior Dept., NREL Developing Modular Hybrid Power Systems for Villages

The Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is working with the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) on designing a modular, expandable, and replicable small-scale power system for villages that draws partly on renewable energy sources. The initiative, called the “Remote Community Renewable Energy Partnership,” aims to deploy small-scale power systems to isolated, off-the-grid villages in remote Alaska and to U.S. island territories. The power systems will draw on either wind or solar power with a diesel generator as a backup power source. By mid-2014, NREL intends to complete the design of the modular power systems and then partner with willing villages to pilot test the new modular systems. The modular approach is meant to encourage deployment while minimizing the engineering and construction costs for each project. See the DOI blog.

EPA Strengthens Energy Star Requirements for Refrigerators and Freezers

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on June 27 that it has revised its Energy Star requirements for residential refrigerators and freezers. The updated requirements raise the bar for energy efficiency in these products and, for the first time, encourage manufacturers to include optional “connected” features. These features would offer consumers more ways to reduce the energy consumption of their refrigerators and freezers, help lower their utility bills, and better protect the environment and the climate.
Under the new standards, Energy Star-certified refrigerators and freezers will use at least 10% less energy than models meeting 2014 federal minimum efficiency standards. If all refrigerators and freezers sold in the United States were to meet the updated requirements, the energy cost savings would grow to more than $890 million each year while reducing annual greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of taking more than one million vehicles off the road. By recycling an old refrigerator and replacing it with a new Energy Star-certified refrigerator, consumers can save from $150–$1,100 on energy costs over the product’s lifetime. To earn the Energy Star label, product performance must be certified by an EPA-recognized third party, based on testing in an EPA-recognized laboratory. The updated Energy Star refrigerator and freezer specification will go into effect on September 15, 2014.
Certain Energy Star refrigerators and freezers with connected features will provide consumers new convenience and energy-saving opportunities. These products will allow consumers to view real-time energy use, receive energy-related messages—such as an alert when the door has been left open—and manage appliance settings remotely. Refrigerators and freezers with connected functionality will also be “smart grid”-ready, meaning that with consumer permission, they will be able to respond to utility signals, including curtailing operations during more expensive peak demand times. See the EPA press release and the Energy Star’s new specification for residential refrigerators and freezers.


  special thanks to U.S. Department of Energy |

L.A. Rooftop Solar Project Goes Online in San Fernando Valley

With 1 billion square feet of rooftop space and more than 300 days of sunshine, Los Angeles has all the makings of a leading solar hub. Now, an innovative program is leveraging these resources to accelerate the county’s transition to the forefront of solar innovation.
On June 26, the Los Angeles Feed-in Tariff program—the largest rooftop solar program in the nation—celebrated the completion of its first solar installation. The program incentivizes businesses to install solar arrays on rooftops across Los Angeles to generate clean, renewable electricity. Participating business are offered a 20-year contract to sell the solar energy they produce to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power at a set price. For the complete story, see the Energy Blog.


Energy Department Announces Investment to Accelerate Next Generation Biofuels

Following last week’s rollout of President Obama’s plan to cut carbon pollution, the Energy Department today announced four research and development projects to bring next generation biofuels on line faster and drive down the cost of producing gasoline, diesel and jet fuels from biomass. The projects—located in Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin—represent a $13 million Energy Department investment.
“By partnering with private industry, universities and our national labs, we can increase America’s energy security, bolster rural economic development, and cut harmful carbon pollution from our cars, trucks and planes,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “As the President made clear in his plan to cut carbon pollution, partnerships like these will help move our economy towards cleaner, more efficient forms of energy that lower our reliance on foreign oil.”
In the United States, the transportation sector accounts for two-thirds of total U.S. oil consumption and one-third of our nation’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Hydrocarbon-based biofuels made from non-food feedstocks, waste materials, and algae can directly replace gasoline and other fuels in our gas tanks and refineries. The Energy Department continues to take steps to speed the development of clean, renewable biofuels, with the goal of producing cost-competitive drop-in biofuels at $3 per gallon by 2017.
The research projects announced today build on the Obama Administration’s broader efforts to accelerate the next generation of biofuels by bringing down costs, improving performance and identifying effective, non-food feedstocks and conversion technologies. These projects will help maximize the amount of renewable carbon and hydrogen that can be converted to fuels from biomass and improve the separation processes in bio-oil production to remove non-fuel components—further lowering production costs.
The projects selected for negotiation include:
Ceramatec (up to $3.3 million; Salt Lake City, Utah): Ceramatec will utilize an efficient electrochemical deoxygenation process to develop cost-effective technology to separate oxygen from bio-oil. This project will help produce hydrocarbon products suitable for further processing in conventional petroleum refineries.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (up to $2.1 million; Oak Ridge, Tennessee): Oak Ridge National Laboratory will use a microbial electrolysis process to efficiently remove the hydrogen from the water found in bio-oil. This technology will help reduce the corrosivity of bio-oil and improve the efficiency of converting hydrogen and biomass to biofuels. The University of Tennessee-Knoxville, Georgia Institute of Technology, Pall Corporation, OmniTech International, and FuelCellsEtc will also participate in this project.
University of Oklahoma (up to $4 million; Norman, Oklahoma): The University of Oklahoma will investigate two methods—thermal fractionation and supercritical solvent extraction—to maximize the amount of renewable carbon and hydrogen that can be extracted from biomass and converted to a refinery-compatible intermediate and suitable for final upgrading to a transportation fuel. The multidisciplinary research team includes experts in catalysis, separation, life-cycle analysis and techno-economic assessment.
Virent, Inc. (up to $4 million; Madison, Wisconsin): Virent will develop an innovative separation process which uses its BioForming® technology to efficiently convert carbon from lignocellulosic biomass into hydrocarbon fuels. Virent will work to improve the overall carbon conversion efficiency of biomass—helping to reduce the cost of producing hydrocarbon biofuels that work with our existing transportation fuel infrastructure and are capable of meeting the Renewable Fuel Standard. Idaho National Laboratory will also bring their feedstock pre-processing capabilities to the project.

Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources (CCRES)