Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources
News and Events August 10, 2013
DOE Awards $11 Million to Small Clean-Tech Businesses
The Energy Department on July 24 announced new awards totaling nearly $11 million to help small businesses in nine states develop innovative ideas that could cut carbon pollution, reduce U.S. reliance on imported oil, and boost energy efficiency. The 11 projects—located in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, and Virginia—will focus on developing clean energy technologies with a strong potential for commercialization and job creation.
Technologies receiving awards include a project led by Applied Spectra, Inc. of Freemont, California, to develop an optical sensor for in-vehicle, real-time measurements of battery materials and chemistry to enable optimum performance and extend the life of lithium-ion batteries. Another project, led by Cool Energy, Inc., of Boulder, Colorado, will test a high-efficiency, low-temperature geothermal power technology that could help develop geothermal energy resources across most of the United States. And Proton OnSite of Wallingford, Connecticut, will lead a project to reduce the cost and improve the efficiency of systems that produce hydrogen fuel from renewable energy sources.
Funded by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy through the Energy Department’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, these awards are for Phase II projects to further develop Phase I projects and produce a prototype or equivalent within two years. Ten awards are for SBIR projects, and one is for an STTR project. See the Energy Department Progress Alert and the complete list of awards.
DOI Announces Offshore Virginia Wind Energy Lease Sale
The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) and its Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) on July 22 announced that BOEM will hold a competitive lease sale for commercial wind energy off the shore of Virginia. The auction, which will be the second such U.S. offshore lease, is scheduled to take place on September 4 and will offer nearly 112,800 acres. The nation’s first wind energy lease sale will be held on July 31 for an area offshore of Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
The Virginia wind energy area, located 23.5 nautical miles from the Virginia Beach coastline, will be auctioned as a single lease. The lease area has the potential to support more than 2,000 megawatts of wind generation—enough electricity to power approximately 700,000 homes.
As part of the ‘Smart from the Start’ program for expediting commercial-scale wind energy in federal offshore waters, DOI has identified Wind Energy Areas to spur responsible development of this abundant renewable resource. See the DOI press release, lease background on the BOEM website, and the lease announcement in the Federal Register.
ARPA-E Announces $30 Million for Full-Spectrum Solar
The Energy Department on July 16 announced that the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) will offer up to $30 million for a new program to develop new technologies that deliver cost-effective solar energy when the sun is not shining, in bad weather and even at night. The program, Full-Spectrum Optimized Conversion and Utilization of Sunlight (FOCUS), seeks to develop two distinct technology options to deliver low-cost, high-efficiency solar energy on demand: new hybrid solar energy converters and new hybrid energy storage systems. The technologies developed will help advance solar energy beyond current photovoltaic (PV) and concentrated solar power (CSP) technologies to ensure solar power remains a consistent, cost-effective renewable energy option.
The first approach will develop advanced solar converters that turn sunlight into electricity for immediate use, while also producing heat that can be stored at low cost for later use. These hybrid converters will use the entire solar spectrum more efficiently than PV or CSP technologies. The second approach will develop innovative storage systems that accept heat and electricity from variable solar sources to deliver electricity when needed. See the Energy Department press release and the ARPA-E website.
U.S., China Lead 2nd Quarter Energy Investment: Report
Global investment in clean energy was $53 billion in the second quarter of 2013, up 22% from the first quarter, mainly because of an upturn in the financing of wind and solar projects, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The rebound was led by the United States, which saw investment grow 155% compared to its first quarter, reaching $9.5 billion. China’s investment was up 63% to nearly $14 billion.
Europe saw investment fall 44% compared to the first quarter of 2013, reaching $9.5 billion, that continent’s lowest quarter total for more than six years. The downturn in Europe led to a drop in global investment in clean energy in the second quarter of 2013 ended up 16% below the figure for the second quarter of 2012, the report said. Overall, the biggest category of investment between April and June 2013 was asset finance of utility-scale projects, such as wind farms and solar parks, with a total investment of nearly $32 billion, up 39% on the first quarter but down 21% year-on-year. See the Bloomberg New Energy Finance press release.
Energy Department, NREL Launch New Research Center for Grid Integration
The Energy Department and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) announced on June 20 the Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) in Golden, Colorado, as the latest Energy Department user facility and the only facility in the nation focused on utility-scale clean energy grid integration. The facility’s first industry partner—Colorado-based Advanced Energy Industries—has already signed on to start work at ESIF, developing lower-cost, better-performing solar power inverters.
Located on NREL’s campus, the 182,500-square-foot ESIF is the nation’s first facility to help both public- and private-sector researchers scale-up promising clean energy technologies—from solar modules and wind turbines to electric vehicles and efficient, interactive home appliances—and test how they interact with each other and the grid at the utility scale. The ESIF will house more than 15 experimental laboratories and several outdoor test beds, including an interactive hardware-in-the-loop system that lets researchers and manufacturers test their products at full power and real grid load levels. The facility also features a petascale supercomputer that can support large-scale modeling and simulation at one quadrillion operations per second.
As the first industry partner to use ESIF, Advanced Energy Industries is testing its new solar photovoltaic (PV) inverter technology with the facility’s utility-scale grid simulators and hardware-in-the-loop systems. Solar inverters are responsible for a number of critical functions within a solar PV system, including converting the direct current output into alternating current for the grid. Advanced Energy’s inverter will help support a smarter grid that can handle two-way flows of power and communication while reducing hardware costs. See the Energy Department press release.
California, Washington Utilities Honored with 2013 Public Power Wind Award
The Energy Department on June 18 recognized utilities in California and Washington with the 2013 Public Power Wind award. Washington State’s Snohomish County Public Utility District received the Member System award for its participation in the Wind Integration Forum, a joint initiative led by the Northwest Power and Conservation Council and the Bonneville Power Administration to address wind energy and hydroelectric generation in the region and the integration of these resources into the electric grid. As part of the forum, Snohomish is one of two regional utilities to pilot a program that provides twice-an-hour scheduling of wind transmission—increased from the standard once-an-hour scheduling—to allow the grid operators to better respond to wind fluctuations. In addition, the Southern California Public Power Authority received the Joint Action Agency award for its use of innovative financing to aggregate more than 710 megawatts of installed wind capacity. By carefully structuring the power purchase agreements across five wind projects, Southern California secured energy prices for several participating municipal systems at substantially lower costs.
The Public Power Wind award was created in 2003 by the Energy Department’s Wind Powering America initiative and the American Public Power Association (APPA) to recognize and encourage community-owned electric utilities that demonstrate outstanding leadership in advancing wind power in the United States. A panel of experts evaluate the award nominees for high-performing executive leadership, creative marketing approaches, innovative projects, and benefits to customers. The winners were announced at the APPA’s annual conference in Nashville, Tennessee. See the Energy Department Progress Alert.
Smart Grid, Distributed Energy to Strengthen Grid in Hoboken, New Jersey
The Energy Department announced on June 13 that it will partner with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities; the City of Hoboken, New Jersey; and the Public Service Electric & Gas Company (PSE&G) to help develop and assess strategies for improving the reliability and resiliency of the local electric grid in Hoboken. Recognizing the destructive potential of major weather events such as Hurricane Sandy, the collaboration will help Hoboken in its efforts to rebuild and upgrade its electricity infrastructure by delivering a strategic design that identifies priority energy needs and energy system functions for various outage durations, evaluates potential system improvements, and estimates cost.
Under the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding, the Energy Department will help the City of Hoboken and PSE&G implement the Energy Surety Design Methodology (ESDM), a quantitative risk-based assessment tool that allows communities to evaluate their regional energy needs, identify advanced solutions to improve the reliability and resiliency of their electric grids, and understand the most cost-effective strategies for system upgrades. Developed at Sandia National Laboratories, the ESDM relies mainly on the use of advanced smart grid technologies and the integration of distributed energy resources such as backup generators, solar power, and stored energy. Previous applications of the ESDM have shown enhanced grid reliability and resiliency, improved integration of renewable and distributed energy, and cost-effectiveness. See the Energy Department press release.
Energy Intensity of Federal Buildings Slashed 25% in Past Decade
The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), which builds and manages federal buildings, recently announced that it cut federal energy spending by $65.5 million in fiscal year (FY) 2012 by reducing the energy use intensity levels in its buildings by nearly 25% since FY 2003. That placed the GSA well ahead of its goal of a 21% reduction in energy intensity. The agency also exceeded its FY 2020 greenhouse gas reduction target in FY 2012, reducing emissions by more than 35% from FY 2008 levels—equivalent to taking 162,000 vehicles off the road for a year. The GSA has also reduced its water usage in buildings by nearly 20% since FY 2007.
The milestones were noted as part of the GSA’s sustainability and energy performance scorecard for FY 2012. The GSA has worked to reduce the environmental impact of federal buildings through the use of innovative technologies such as solar panels, advanced lighting systems, geothermal technology, wind power, and low-flow plumbing systems. See the GSA press release.
Sioux Students Kindle Solar Knowledge
It started with a spark—an interest in green energy. This glimmer of curiosity led Lyle Wilson, an instructor at Oglala Lakota College in South Dakota and U.S. Army veteran, to start researching renewable energy technologies such as solar, wind, and geothermal. Now sparked by Lyle’s interest, members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe of the Pine Ridge Reservation are finding new possibilities in their clean energy capabilities.
As part of his work at Oglala Lakota College, Lyle works with students in the applied sciences department to construct houses for members of the tribe. He envisioned taking the work a step further by integrating solar panels into new homes to help reduce power bills. To make it happen, Lyle reached out to Solar Energy International (SEI), which helps coordinate solar training courses for the Energy Department’s Solar Instructor Training Network.
From there, a group of students and instructors at the college signed on for SEI’s Photovoltaic (PV) 101: Solar Design and Installation course, in which they set up their first grid-tied photovoltaic system. This introduction served as fuel for their solar fire. Next, about 20 people took part in SEI’s PV 203: Solar Electric Design (Battery-Based) class. This course allowed them to install two 250-watt solar panels on their construction trailer. For the complete story, see the Energy Blog.
Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources (CCRES)