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EERE Network News -- 10/15/03

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  • Tom Gray
    ====================================================================== EERE NETWORK NEWS -- October 15, 2003 A weekly newsletter from the U.S. Department of
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 16, 2003
      EERE NETWORK NEWS -- October 15, 2003
      A weekly newsletter from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE)
      Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).

      *News and Events
      Honda Introduces Fuel Cell for Below-Freezing Temperatures
      California and Ohio Support Distributed Generation Projects
      Solar-Powered LED Lamps Help Guide Air Force Jets in Iraq
      Australia's "World Solar Challenge" Car Race Starts Sunday
      Tests of Tidal Energy Turbine Underway in the United Kingdom
      Seattle Bank Offers Mortgage Financing for Energy Efficiency

      *Site News
      Revamped NREL Web Site Highlights Research Activities

      *Energy Connections
      EIA Statistics: Newer Homes Tend to Use More Energy

      *About this Newsletter

      Honda Introduces Fuel Cell for Below-Freezing Temperatures

      Honda Motor Co., Ltd. has tackled one of the largest technical
      barriers for fuel cell vehicles, producing a fuel cell with advanced
      electrolyte membranes that can operate at temperatures as low as
      4 degrees Fahrenheit below zero (negative 20 degrees Celsius). Honda
      announced last week that the new fuel cell uses a simplified structure
      to cut the number of components by nearly half, while more than
      doubling the power output per pound of fuel cell, compared to Honda's
      previous-generation fuel cell. Incorporating the new fuel cell into
      Honda's fuel cell vehicle, the FCX, yields a 10-percent increase in
      fuel efficiency and a 20-mile increase in range, to more than
      180 miles. Honda delivered the first of five FCX vehicles to the
      City of Los Angeles in December 2002; last month, Honda also agreed
      to deliver two FCX vehicles to the City of San Francisco by year-end.

      Honda has also developed an experimental "Home Energy Station" that
      converts natural gas into hydrogen, which is then purified,
      compressed, and stored. The hydrogen can be used either to fuel a fuel
      cell vehicle or to supply a stationary fuel cell -- incorporated in
      the unit -- to produce electricity and hot water. In addition, Honda
      has developed a new Ruthenium-based catalyst that allows water to be
      converted into its components, hydrogen and oxygen, more efficiently.
      Honda has built a water electrolysis unit that uses power from an
      advanced solar cell to generate hydrogen and has added the unit to its
      hydrogen production station in Torrington, California. See the press
      releases on the Honda Media Web site at:

      For the record, General Motors Corporation (GM) announced a similar
      cold-start fuel cell achievement back in September 1999, although it
      is not clear if the company ever incorporated that fuel cell into a
      vehicle. See the GM press release at:

      Other car companies continue to make progress on fuel cell vehicles.
      In late September, Toyota delivered two more fuel cell vehicles to
      University of California campuses -- one to Irvine and one to Davis.
      Mitsubishi Motors Corporation has also built a fuel-cell vehicle based
      on a minivan and using a fuel cell from Ballard Power System Inc.
      Closer to home, Ford Motor Company is planning to test its Ford Focus
      fuel cell vehicle on the streets of Vancouver, British Columbia, next
      year. See the press releases from Toyota, Mitsubishi, and Ford at:
      <http://www.mitsubishi-motors.co.jp/inter/NEWS/0304-09/0352.html>, and

      California and Ohio Support Distributed Generation Projects

      Two recent actions in the states of California and Ohio will help
      groups and individuals generate their own power on-site, a concept
      known as "self-generation" or "distributed generation." The actions
      bode particularly well for solar power installations in the two

      In California, outgoing Governor Gray Davis signed legislation on
      Sunday that will extend the state's Self-Generation Incentive Program
      through the end of 2007. The program has been critical to the growth
      of solar power in the state, and was set to expire at the end of 2004.
      The new legislation, Assembly Bill 1685, also sets emissions standards
      and requires a minimum conversion efficiency of 60 percent for any
      fossil-fueled distributed generation that seeks to qualify for the
      incentive payment. Combined heat and power projects can earn credits
      against the emission standards based on how much heat they recover.
      See the governor's October 12th press release, titled "Legislative
      Update -- Part III," by selecting "Press Releases" on the governor's
      Web site at:

      Governor Davis faced a deadline of midnight on Sunday to either sign
      or veto 282 bills that awaited his signature; any bills that he didn't
      sign or veto would automatically become law. For detailed information
      about Assembly Bill 1685, enter "AB 1685" in the search box on the
      Official California Legislative Information Web site at:

      In Ohio, the Department of Development has awarded a total of $924,019
      in grants to 26 distributed generation projects throughout the state.
      The projects cover a wide range of technologies to be installed in
      both homes and business, including solar power systems, solar thermal
      systems, wind turbines, a biomass-to-energy system, a gas turbine, and
      a reciprocating engine. Many of the projects involve "hybrid" systems
      that combine two or more of the technologies, and several make use of
      waste heat produced by the electrical generators. But perhaps the most
      interesting award is to the City of Cleveland, which plans to install
      a 530-kilowatt solar power system at one of its water treatment
      plants. If built, it will be the largest solar power system in the
      Midwest. See the Ohio Department of Development press release at:

      Aside from financing, the trickiest parts of installing distributed
      generation usually involve agreements with the local utility,
      including agreements on how to connect to the grid -- referred to as
      "interconnection" -- and on how the utility will credit the owner for
      any power fed into the grid. Advocates of distributed generation
      prefer a "net metering" agreement that credits power fed into the grid
      against power drawn from the grid, requiring the owner to only pay the
      net difference. To help advance distributed generation, the Interstate
      Renewable Energy Council (IREC) recently released new model rules to
      help guide policymakers considering net metering or interconnection
      rules in their states. See the announcement, with a link to the draft
      rules, on the IREC Web site at:

      Solar-Powered LED Lamps Help Guide Air Force Jets in Iraq

      Solar power may still conjure images of hippies and hot tubs among
      some people, but its current use by the U.S. Air Force adds a level of
      machismo that should help to dispel that image. Solar-powered lights
      are now marking runways at the U.S. Air Force base in Kirkuk, Iraq,
      and will soon be used to mark obstructions and a helipad perimeter at
      the base. Carmanah Technologies Corporation, which had already
      provided 400 solar-powered lights to the base, announced in early
      October that it received an order for 120 more lights. The second
      order is a vote of confidence for the solar technology, which uses
      energy-efficient light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, as a light source.
      More than 2,600 of the solar lights are now being used at military
      airfields throughout the world. See the Carmanah press release at:

      Companies continue to make advancements in LED lighting, opening up
      new opportunities for their use in everyday applications. Lumileds
      Lighting, for instance, has just released the Luxeon III light source,
      which uses LEDs to produce up to 80 lumens of white light while
      consuming about 3.9 watts of power. That's still fewer lumens per watt
      than most compact fluorescent lights, but more energy-efficient than
      an incandescent light. For instance, a 60-watt incandescent bulb
      typically produces about 900 lumens, or about 15 lumens per watt,
      compared to 20.5 lumens per watt for the Luxeon III LED light.
      Lumileds has recently seen its lights used for concert and dance-floor
      lighting, headlights in concept cars, and even headlights and
      taillights on Amish buggies. See the Lumileds Luxeon Web page and
      press release page at: <http://www.lumileds.com/index.html> and

      Universal Display Corporation is taking an alternative approach,
      forming LEDs from organic materials. The company announced last week
      that it received a $750,000 award from DOE to advance its development
      of a 6-inch square panel made of thin films of organic LED materials
      that emit white light. See the company's press release at:

      Australia's "World Solar Challenge" Car Race Starts Sunday

      The seventh annual "World Solar Challenge" kicks off in Darwin,
      Australia, on Sunday, October 19th. Race organizers announced on
      Tuesday that 23 solar cars from 10 countries have entered the race,
      which runs 1,870 miles (3,010 kilometers) down the center of the
      Australian continent, ending in Adelaide on October 28th. Unlike the
      American Solar Challenge, which is divided into four stages, the World
      Solar Challenge is run in one stage. That allows the teams to travel
      as far as they can each day, although they must stop by 5 p.m. Apart
      from compulsory stops at seven checkpoints, the teams are on their own
      in the Australian outback. See the World Solar Challenge Web site at:

      Links to the latest news from the race, as well as information about
      the teams, are available on the Web site's "Daily Updates" page at:

      Tests of Tidal Energy Turbine Underway in the United Kingdom

      Sea Power International AB announced in September that it was starting
      tests of its prototype tidal energy turbine near the shore of
      Shetland, in the far northern reaches of the United Kingdom. The
      turbine will be attached to a ship that will be anchored at 10 sites
      in the Bluemull Sound, located between the islands of Yell and Unst.
      The test will determine the best site to locate a full-scale tidal
      power station. According to the company, the prototype tidal energy
      turbine is based on an existing wind turbine design. See the Sea Power
      press release at: <http://www.seapower.se/presseng.htm>.

      Meanwhile, the Wave Dragon wave energy system continues to press ahead
      at its test site in the Danish fjord called Nissum Bredning. In
      September, Wave Dragon added six turbines to the wave energy system,
      bringing the total to seven. So far, there's no word from the company
      on the amount of power being produced by the prototype system. See the
      Wave Dragon press release at:

      Seattle Bank Offers Mortgage Financing for Energy Efficiency

      Energy-efficient products nearly always pay for themselves -- often in
      a short period of time -- but when new homeowners are out buying
      appliances, the price premium on the high-efficiency models often
      leads them to buy the less-expensive model that will cost them more in
      the long run. In an attempt to overcome that shortsighted view,
      HomeStreet Bank and the Efficiency Services Group (ESG) are now
      offering homeowners a way to use their mortgage to finance energy
      efficiency improvements. Through the "Mortgage Options for Resource
      Efficiency" (MORE) program, homeowners can add $4,000 to their
      mortgage, which is placed in an escrow account. An energy specialist
      from ESG, a division of Portland General Electric, will then perform
      an energy analysis to determine which upgrades make the most sense.
      The homeowner can then choose from a menu of energy-efficiency
      options, including lighting, appliances, water-saving devices, and
      weatherization measures. Unused funds are applied to the pay the
      principal on the mortgage. See the September 11th press release on the
      HomeStreet Bank Web site at:

      See also the MORE program Web site at: <http://www.moreprogram.com>.

      Are you wondering what incentives for energy efficiency might exist in
      your area? Well, stop wondering and visit the new database created by
      the National Energy Affordability and Accessibility Project (NEAAP).
      The database lists such incentives as energy-efficiency audits,
      rebates, and low-interest loans. See the NEAPP Residential Energy
      Efficiency Database at: <http://neaap.ncat.org/db/>.

      Revamped NREL Web Site Highlights Research Activities

      DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has launched a
      redesigned Web site that allows easier navigation while providing a
      standard "look and feel" that will be reflected throughout the site.
      This new look and feel is already evident in the Web site's revised
      sections on Biomass Research, Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Research, and
      Advanced Vehicles and Fuels Research. The site is specifically
      designed to showcase the latest research activities at NREL.

      The NREL Web site is also host to information about the eighth
      World Renewable Energy Congress (WREC), to be held in Denver from
      August 28th through September 3rd, 2004. The biennial event typically
      attracts about 800 delegates from more than 100 countries. See the
      WREC Web page at: <http://www.nrel.gov/wrec/>.

      EIA Statistics: Newer Homes Tend to Use More Energy

      Despite an ever-expanding menu of energy-efficient building
      technologies, including better methods of sealing out air leaks,
      improved insulation, high-tech windows, and other advances, DOE
      statistics show that newer U.S. homes still tend to use more energy
      than older ones. According to a recent tabulation of residential
      energy use statistics by DOE's Energy Information Administration
      (EIA), homes built between 1990 and 2001 consume, on average,
      92.7 million Btu (British thermal units) of energy per year, which is
      higher than the average energy use in homes built in the previous
      three decades. Only homes built before 1960 show a higher average
      energy use than their 1990s counterparts. Two factors may help explain
      the trend: first, newer homes tend to be larger than older homes, and
      second, the owners of the newer homes tend to have higher incomes than
      owners of older homes, which may lead them to conserve less or to buy
      more energy-using devices. See the EIA's 2001 Residential Energy
      Consumption Survey at:

      How much energy should we expect a new home to use? How about zero? It
      may sound far-fetched, but DOE's Zero Energy Homes research initiative
      is proving it can be done. See the initiative on the DOE Building
      Technologies Program Web site at:

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