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2643EERE Network News -- 07/21/04

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  • EERE Network News by way of Tom Gray
    Jul 21, 2004

      A weekly newsletter from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). The EERE Network News is also available on the Web at: www.eere.energy.gov/news/

      July 21, 2004

      News and Events

      Site News

      • Savings by Design

      Energy Connections

      • IEA: World Oil Demand Expected to Grow Slower in 2005

      News and Events

      DOE and USDA Award $25 Million for Biomass Initiative

      DOE and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced last week the selection of 22 projects that will advance their joint Biomass Research and Development Initiative. DOE will award more than $12 million to nine projects, and the USDA will award more than $13 million to 13 projects, for a total of nearly $25.5 million in government awards. Nearly all of the DOE-funded projects relate to gasification technologies, although one project is aimed at producing new chemical products from biomass. The USDA-funded projects address a variety of technologies, including studies of feedstock supplies and treatment options; testing a new technology for ethanol production; using liquid fuels derived from biomass to power a fuel cell; developing a small-scale, biomass-fired gas turbine; and producing high-purity hydrogen from farm animal wastes. Including the cost sharing of the private-sector partners, the total value of the projects is nearly $38 million. See the DOE press release, and for the complete details about the awards, see the 47-page compilation of project proposals (PDF 194 KB). Download Acrobat Reader.

      Federal Teams Honored for Energy Achievements

      Fifteen teams and three individuals at U.S. federal agencies were honored last week at the 2004 Presidential Energy and Environmental Awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. The ceremony commended the winners of the Presidential Awards for Leadership in Federal Energy Management, now in its fifth year of honoring exemplary energy efficiency efforts, as well as the winners of the 10th annual Closing the Circle Awards, which recognizes outstanding environmental stewardship. See the DOE press release.

      The six federal teams honored for their renewable energy and energy efficiency efforts include DOE's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the Environmental Protection Agency's Green Power Purchase Program, the Air Force Renewable Energy Team, and energy management teams from the Marine Corps, the New England Region of the General Services Administration, and the Department of Health and Human Services. Together, the six teams helped save 1.8 trillion Btu per year, or enough energy to supply about 17,000 homes. Details on the six teams' accomplishments are available on the DOE Federal Energy Management Program Web site.
      24435cff.jpg 24435d4f.jpg

      This building at the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge won a Closing the Circle Award.
      Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

      Although the Closing the Circle Awards go toward a wider array of environmental actions by federal employees, this year's awards included two green building efforts. One awardee, the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia, combined a well-insulated building envelope, daylighting, solar power, energy-efficient lighting, and geothermal heat pumps in its new educational and administrative center. The other awardee, the U.S. Army's Yuma Proving Ground, built an energy-efficient model home using structural insulated panels, high-performance windows, an energy recovery ventilator, solar water heating, solar power, and energy-efficient lighting and appliances. The home was a project of DOE's Building America Program. See the nominations for the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and the Yuma Proving Ground on the Office of the Federal Environmental Executive Web site, and see the Building America Program's description of the Yuma Proving Ground home.

      DOE Awards $4.2 Million for Solid-Oxide Fuel Cell Research

      DOE announced Monday its award of $4.2 million for 11 new projects that will "address the last barriers to commercially viable solid-oxide fuel cell systems," according to Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham. Solid-oxide fuel cells are a promising option for applications that require a large amount of power, such as industrial plants or utility generating stations. They operate at high temperatures and at high efficiency and can be powered with a variety of fuels. Nine of the 11 new projects are aimed at developing materials for the fuel-cell components that will better survive the high temperatures and corrosive conditions within the fuel cells. In addition, one project will evaluate new and existing fuel-injector designs, and another will evaluate means of avoiding carbon deposition on the fuel-cell catalyst. See the DOE press release.

      California Utilities Seek Renewable Energy to Meet New Standard

      Two of California's largest utilities San Diego Gas and Electric Company (SDG&E) and Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG recently announced their plans to add more renewable energy to their electricity supplies in order to meet the state's new requirements for renewable energy.

      SDG&E intends to meet California's requirement for 20 percent renewable energy seven years early: by 2010 instead of 2017. The utility seeks to buy power from any eligible new renewable energy facility (the state requirement allows a wide variety of technologies) or to acquire the new facilities, if they are located within its service area and draw on either wind power, solar photovoltaic power, or geothermal power. However, SDG&E is only interested in acquiring geothermal power plants if they are located in the Imperial Valley. Proposals are due by August 12th. SDG&E has also updated its long-term energy resource plan; the latest version shows that energy efficiency and renewable energy will meet all of the utility's growing energy needs through 2011. See the July 1st and July 12th press releases from SDG&E, as well as the full Request for Offers.

      PG&E issued a Request for Offers last week, with the goal of entering into power purchase contracts by the end of the year. Unlike SDG&E,
      PG&E does not appear interested in acquiring renewable energy facilities. The utility seeks to procure about 1 percent of its retail sales volume, or about 711 million kilowatt-hours per year, from renewable energy sources. Bids are due by August 23rd. See the PG&E press release and the full Request for Offers.

      But why is there no news from the state's other large utility, Southern California Edison? Because the utility hit its goal last year, a full 14 years early. See the article from the September 2nd, 2003, edition of this newsletter.

      Large Wind Power Plants Proposed for Wisconsin and Nevada

      Wind energy companies are continuing to plan for the future, as large wind power plants are under development in Wisconsin and Nevada.

      In Wisconsin, Invenergy Wind LLC is planning to build a 60-megawatt wind power plant near Brownsville, about 60 miles northwest of Milwaukee. Wisconsin Public Power Inc. (WPPI) and Madison Gas and Electric (MGE) have teamed up to buy all the power from the new facility for the first 20 years of operation. Called the Forward Energy Center, the new wind plant is expected to begin operating in August 2005. See the press releases from WPPI and MGE.

      In Nevada, Navitas Energy has submitted a proposal to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Winnemucca Field Office to build an 80-megawatt wind power plant in the Dry Hills, about 22 miles northeast of Winnemucca in the north-central part of the state. Called the Getchell Wind Farm, the facility will consist of 40 wind turbines, each two megawatts in capacity. Although the BLM is just starting the environmental review process for the proposed wind plant, Navitas intends to begin construction in late spring of 2005, with commercial operation starting six to nine months later. See the press release from the BLM Winnemucca Field Office.

      Nevada aims to boost renewable energy development in the state by providing investors with "additional reasonable guarantees that they will receive a fair return on their investments," according to Governor Kenny Guinn. New regulatory and legislative proposals would give the Nevada Public Utilities Commission (PUC) the authority to create a "Temporary Renewable Energy Development" trust to receive renewable energy payments from the utilities' customers and make scheduled payments to renewable developers for energy delivered to utilities. The proposals aim to alleviate investors' concerns about the financial status of the state's two investor-owned utilities. The proposals were filed with the PUC in early July, and Governor Guinn will work with the state legislature to make the needed statutory changes. See the governor's press release.

      Arizona Fleets Report Unexpectedly Low Mileages for Hybrid Vehicles

      24435dc7.jpg 24435e17.jpg

      The Honda Insight remains the most fuel-efficient vehicle available in the United States.
      Credit: Ken Kelly, NREL

      DOE's Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL) announced in late June that it completed one million miles of hybrid electric vehicle testing in fleets located in Arizona. Eighteen hybrid vehicles, including all four models currently available in the United States, were used for a variety of purposes in several fleets, and the cumulative mileages for the four vehicles are: 38 miles per gallon (mpg) for the Honda Civic, 46 mpg for the Honda Insight, 41.1 mpg for the 2002 and 2003 Toyota Prius, and 44.6 mpg for the 2004 Toyota Prius. Except for one of the six Insights, the vehicles all used a continuously variable transmission, for which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lists the combined city and highway mileages as follows: 48 mpg for the Civic, 56 mpg for the Insight, and 55 mpg for the 2004 Prius. In other words, the fleet tests yielded mileages that were about 20 percent lower than the EPA mileages. See the INEEL press release and the DOE/EPA Fuel Economy Guide's comparison of new hybrid vehicles.

      Why the difference? As noted by Toyota in a recent press release, the EPA tests are conducted at average speeds of no greater than 48 miles per hour, without air conditioning, and at moderate temperatures. In contrast, the fleet tests in Arizona likely included higher highway speeds, with air conditioning, and at high temperatures, which can limit the effectiveness of the hybrids' battery packs. In fact, month-by-month results from the Arizona fleet tests show better results during the cooler winter months. See the detailed test results from INEEL, and for information on mileage tests, see the Toyota press release and the Frequently Asked Questions page on the Fuel Economy Guide Web site.

      It's not just hybrid vehicle owners who report lower mileages than the EPA figures: A recent petition of the EPA by environmental advocacy group Bluewater Network claimed "drivers today continue to complain that they are not achieving the fuel economy displayed on the window sticker when they purchased their vehicle." In response, the EPA requested comments in late March on a proposal to revise its fuel economy tests. See the EPA press release, the Bluewater Network petition (PDF 54 KB) and the EPA request for comments (PDF 66 KB). Download Acrobat Reader.

      Site News

      Savings by Design

      California's Savings by Design program encourages the design and construction of high-performance commercial buildings. The program offers design assistance and owner and design team incentives for commercial buildings located in the service areas of the Pacific Gas and Electric Company, the San Diego Gas and Electric Company, Southern California Edison, and the Southern California Gas Company.

      Energy Connections

      IEA: World Oil Demand Expected to Grow Slower in 2005

      The world's demand for oil is expected to increase by 1.8 million barrels per day in 2005, a 28 percent slower pace than the increase of 2.5 million barrels per day projected for 2004, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). The IEA's latest "Oil Market Report," released last week, projects that developing countries will be largely responsible for the increase in demand. To meet that demand, the IEA anticipates increased oil production in the countries of the former Soviet Union, as well as Angola, Brazil, and the nations in OPEC, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. See the IEA's "Oil Market Report."

      This newsletter is funded by DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and is also available on the EERE news page. You can subscribe to the EERE Network News using our simple online form, and you can also update your email address or unsubscribe online.

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