Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources
News and Events August 23, 2013
Energy Department Invests in Heating, Cooling, and Lighting
The Energy Department on August 14 announced 12 projects to develop innovative heating, cooling, and insulation technologies as well as open-source energy efficiency software to help homes and commercial buildings save energy and money. These projects will receive approximately $9 million from the Energy Department along with about $1 million in matching private sector funding.
The Energy Department will invest about $6 million for nine projects that will develop new energy efficient building technologies, including heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems and building insulation. The projects will also help curb emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), potent greenhouse gases primarily used in refrigeration and air conditioning. Among the selected projects, the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory will develop affordable insulation plastic film for large windows. The Energy Department’s Sandia National Laboratories along with United Technologies Research Center will help demonstrate a rotating heat exchanger technology for residential HVAC systems. And the Energy Department’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, along with Thermolift, Stony Brook University, and National Grid will help commercialize a natural gas heat pump to provide heating, cooling, and hot water for homes and commercial buildings. See the complete project list .
Commercial and residential buildings use nearly 40% of the total energy consumed in the United States each year and produce more than 40% of the nation’s carbon pollution. According to the Energy Information Administration, about 48% of energy consumption in U.S. homes in 2009 was for heating and cooling, down from 53% in 1993. While better insulation and more efficient windows and equipment helped precipitate this decline, the projects announced are focused on furthering these savings.
The Energy Department also announced about $3 million to three projects—led by the University of California, Virginia Tech, and Carnegie Mellon University—to develop open source software that helps building owners and operators measure, monitor, and adjust lighting, HVAC, and water heating energy use to save energy without compromising performance. According to a study by the Energy Department’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, commercial building owners could save an average 38% on heating and cooling bills by installing energy control systems. See the Energy Department press release.
Largest Federally-Owned Wind Farm Breaks Ground
The Energy Department on August 13 broke ground on the nation’s largest federally-owned wind project at the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas. Once completed, this five-turbine 11.5 megawatt project will power more than 60% of the plant and reduce carbon emissions by more than 35,000 metric tons per year. The Pantex Plant is the primary site for the assembly, disassembly, and maintenance of the United States’ nuclear weapons stockpile.
Located on 1,500 acres east of the Pantex Plant, the wind farm will generate approximately 47 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually—enough to power nearly 3,500 homes. The project is expected to complete construction and start generating electricity in summer 2014. See the Energy Department press release.
DOI Establishes Renewable Energy Evaluation Area in California
The U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) on August 13 announced that it has approved the establishment of the West Chocolate Mountains Renewable Energy Evaluation Area (REEA) on public lands in California’s Imperial Valley. This REEA will prioritize the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands for the exploration and development of solar and geothermal energy. The BLM estimates that the 64,058-acre area has the potential to develop over 3,330 megawatts of solar power and 150 megawatts of geothermal power. The REEA creates a new Solar Energy Zone, which is part of the Obama Administration’s efforts to facilitate solar energy development by identifying areas in six Western states with high solar potential, few resource conflicts, and access to existing or planned transmission.
As part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan to reduce carbon pollution, move toward clean energy sources, and slow the effects of climate change, the Interior Department is working to approve 20,000 megawatts of renewable energy production on public lands by 2020. See the DOI press release.
BLM Approves California Geothermal Development Project
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service Inyo National Forest on August 13 signed the Record of Decision approving a new 40-megawatt geothermal project near Mammoth Lakes, California. The Casa Diablo IV Geothermal Development Project will be built on lands administered by the Inyo National Forest and on private lands within four existing federal geothermal leases. The project will include construction of a new geothermal power plant, up to 16 new production and injection wells, multiple pipelines, and an electric transmission line.
Ormat Nevada Inc. will develop the project on public and private land. When completed, the project would produce enough energy to power 36,000 homes. See the BLM press release.
President Obama Signs Two Bills to Boost Small Hydropower Projects
President Obama on August 9 signed into law two bills aimed at boosting development of small U.S. hydropower projects. The bills, H.R. 267, the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act, and H.R. 678, the Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act, are expected to help unlock some of the estimated 60,000 megawatts of untapped U.S. hydropower capacity.
H.R. 267 promotes the development of small hydropower and conduit projects and aims to shorten regulatory timeframes of certain other low-impact hydropower projects, such as projects that add power generation to the nation’s existing non-powered dams and closed-loop pumped storage projects.
H.R. 678 authorizes small hydropower development at existing canals, pipelines, aqueducts, and other manmade waterways owned by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Such development could provide enough power for 30,000 U.S. homes. See the National Hydropower Association press release .
Tacoma Completes Major Hydropower Upgrade at Cushman Dam
The Energy Department and the city of Tacoma on August 7 inaugurated a new powerhouse and fish passage facility at its Cushman Hydroelectric Project in Washington State, powering over 2,000 additional homes and reintroducing steelhead and salmon to their native habitats.
Tacoma Power’s Cushman Hydroelectric Project installed a new two-generator powerhouse that increases electric generation capacity by 3.6 megawatts and captures energy from previously untapped water flows. The project also added an innovative elevator and transportation system to reintroduce Washington’s endangered steelhead and salmon populations upriver from the Cushman Hydroelectric Project for the first time since the 1920s. This $28 million project was supported by a $4.7 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act award from the Energy Department. See the Energy Department Progress Alert.
NREL Analyzes Solar Energy Land-Use Requirements
The Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has published a report on the land use requirements of solar power plants based on land-use practices from existing solar facilities. The report, “Land-use Requirements for Solar Power Plants in the United States,” gathered data from 72% of the solar power plants currently installed or under construction in the United States.
Among the findings were that a large, fixed-tilt photovoltaic (PV) plant that generates 1 gigawatt-hour per year requires an average of 2.8 acres for the solar panels. This means that a solar power plant that provides electricity for 1,000 homes would require 32 acres of land. Also, small single-axis PV systems require on average 2.9 acres per annual gigawatt-hour, or 3.8 acres when considering all unused area that falls inside the project boundary. And finally, concentrating solar power plants require on average 2.7 acres per annual gigawatt-hour for solar collectors and other equipment, or 3.5 acres when considering all land enclosed within the project boundary.
By the third quarter of 2012, the United States had deployed more than 2.1 gigawatts of utility-scale solar power generation capacity, with another 4.6 gigawatts under construction. A previous NREL report, “Land-use Requirements and the Per-capita Solar Footprint for Photovoltaic Generation in the United States,” had estimated that if solar energy was to meet 100% of all electricity demand in the United States, it would take up 0.6% of the total area in the United States. For the newer report, the data come not from estimates or calculations, but from compiling land use numbers from actual solar power plants. See the NREL press release and complete report.
2012 Warmest on Record for United States: Report
2012 was the warmest on record for the United States, and among the 10 warmest years on record worldwide, according to the 2012 State of the Climate report released August 6 by the American Meteorological Society. The peer-reviewed report, with scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) serving as lead editors, was compiled by 384 scientists from 52 countries. It provides a detailed update on global climate indicators, notable weather events, and other data collected by environmental monitoring stations and instruments on land, sea, ice, and sky.
Conditions in the Arctic were a major focus in 2012, with the region experiencing unprecedented change and breaking several records. Sea ice shrank to its smallest “summer minimum” extent since satellite records began 34 years ago. In addition, more than 97% of the Greenland ice sheet showed some form of melt during the summer, four times greater than the 1981–2010 average melt extent. See the NOAA press release and the report highlights online.
eGallon and Electric Vehicle Sales: The Big Picture
For certain markets, time of year has a distinct effect on prices and/or sales volumes. For instance, sales of Halloween favors tend to be high in October and decline in November. But that drop in sales doesn’t spell doom for candy and costume shops. Similarly, falling peach harvests between August and October don’t say much about the overall health of the orchards. This seasonality is why we often look at year-on-year growth instead of month-to-month growth to determine market dynamics.
July exhibits some of that same seasonality for the electric vehicle (EV) market. Taken in this context, both the EV market and eGallon are performing extremely well.
Just like gasoline, the eGallon price tends to rise with the summer heat. This mostly results from increased electricity use associated with air conditioning. But despite this, the eGallon to gasoline ratio has held steady at about a 1:3—meaning that a gallon of unleaded gasoline is about three times as expensive as an eGallon. The average eGallon price for the country, which is based on May’s electricity prices, is now about $1.22—four cents higher than last month. Since our last eGallon update, gasoline prices have actually jumped about 7 cents to $3.56—though they too are down compared to this time last year. Use our eGallon tool to see gasoline and eGallon prices for your state. For the complete story, see the Energy Blog.
Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources (CCRES)