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EERE Network News -- 06/09/04

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  • EERE Network News by way of Tom Gray
    18aeaecc.jpg 18aeaf80.jpg A weekly newsletter from the U.S. Department of Energy s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 9, 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/

      June 09, 2004

      News and Events

      Site News

      • DriveClean.ca.gov

      Energy Connections

      • Short-Term Energy Outlook Reflects Uncertain Oil Markets

      News and Events

      World Governments Commit to Increase Renewable Energy Use

      The International Conference for Renewable Energies, or "renewables 2004" for short, ended last week with a declaration by 154 governments that renewable energy should supply an increasing portion of the world's energy needs. The conference, held in Bonn, Germany, was the largest ever meeting of government and private sector leaders on renewable energy, including more than 3,000 participants.

      The conference produced an international action program that contains 165 individual commitments by governments, international agencies, and private groups to promote the use of renewable energy. DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) contributed four commitments: advancing the technologies necessary to build integrated biorefineries that will produce power, heat, fuels, and products from biomass; reducing the cost of geothermal power to 5 cents per kilowatt-hour by 2010; reducing the cost of solar photovoltaic power to 6 cents per kilowatt-hour by 2020; and reducing the unsubsidized cost of onshore and offshore wind power in areas with good wind resources to 3 cents and 5 cents per kilowatt-hour, respectively, by 2012. The United States also committed to establishing a production tax credit of 1.8 cents per kilowatt-hour for certain renewable energy power plants.

      In addition, the World Bank committed to increase its renewable energy and energy efficiency lending by at least 20 percent annually over the next five years; China pledged to increase its use of wind, solar, biomass, and small hydropower generation to 60,000 megawatts (about 10 percent of its generating capacity) by 2010; and Germany announced plans to increase its use of renewable energy to 20 percent of its energy supply by 2020. Germany will also provide 500 million Euros (about $616 million) in low-interest loans over the next five years for renewable energy projects in developing countries.

      A document called "Policy Recommendations for Renewable Energy" also came out of the conference. See the conference summary from the Worldwatch Institute, as well as the renewables 2004 press release and conference outcomes.

      New Reports Note Challenges and Opportunities for Renewables

      Renewable energy is moving into the mainstream, according to a report issued in May by the Worldwatch Institute. The study notes that on a global scale, solar power generation has more than tripled in the past five years, and wind power has nearly quadrupled. The report concludes that five key policy elements help contribute to the growth in renewable energy: opening access to the power market, providing financial incentives, disseminating education and information, allowing public participation, and establishing clear industry standards and siting regulations. See the Worldwatch Institute press release.

      Meanwhile, a report issued by the International Energy Agency (IEA) last week in Bonn claims that renewable energy still has a long way to go. The report notes that the fast-growing wind and solar energy sectors do not compensate for the slower growth in the "mature" renewable energy sources: hydropower, conventional biomass energy, and geothermal energy. See the IEA press release.

      World Leaders Trade Limos for Electric Vehicles at G8 Summit

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      President Bush's new ride, for this week at least, is a GEM electric vehicle.
      Credit: Stephen Morton

      The leaders of the world's eight major industrial democracies are usually associated with black limousines and sport utility vehicles with tinted windows, but this week they'll be trading their usual luxury rides for something a bit more down-to-earth: GEM electric vehicles. As the "Group of Eight" tool around Sea Island, Georgia, for the annual G8 Summit, the GEM vehicles will prove more practical than the usual motorcade. Each GEM is wrapped in the colors of the respective leader's country and can travel at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour. But the leaders won't have to give up their motorcade entirely: they each get two GEMs, enough for a small electric-powered caravan. See the announcement from the Sea Island Summit Planning Organization, and for more information about the GEM vehicles, see the GEM Web site.

      President Bush is hosting this year's G8 Summit, which brings together the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The European Union also attends the G8 Summit, represented by the President of the European Commission and the leader of the country holding the presidency of the European Council (currently, Ireland). This year's summit is focused largely on freedom, democratic reform, and prosperity in the Middle East. The summit will also tackle such issues as global peacekeeping, travel security, arms proliferation, global economic growth, expanded trade, ocean policies, global health issues, poverty, and famine. The White House also expects the G8 leaders to launch the "Methane to Markets Partnership," an effort to capture waste methane and use it as an energy source. The Summit started Tuesday and runs through tomorrow. See the Sea Island Summit 2004 Web site and Monday's White House press briefing.

      Maryland and Hawaii Set New Renewable Energy Requirements

      Maryland has become the newest state to enact a requirement for utilities to draw on renewable energy for a set percentage of their electricity supply. The new law commonly referred to as a "renewable portfolio standard" requires utilities in Maryland to draw on renewable energy for 7.5 percent of their electricity supplies by 2014. According to MaryPIRG, one of the organizations that advocated the legislation, Maryland is the fifteenth state to implement a renewable portfolio standard. Governor Ehrlich signed the law (SB 869/HB 1308) on May 26th, and also signed a law (HB 1269) expanding the state's "net metering" rules, which allow homeowners and educational institutions to spin their electric meters backwards when feeding power from a solar electric system into the power grid. The new rules allow net metering for wind turbines as well. See the press releases from MaryPIRG and Governor Ehrlich, or go directly to the Maryland General Assembly's complete information about the renewable portfolio standard and net metering laws.

      Meanwhile, Hawaii has expanded the requirements of its renewable portfolio standard. The original requirement, set in 2001, required utilities to draw on renewable energy for 9 percent of their electricity sales by 2010; the new law, signed last week by Governor Linda Lingle, escalates that requirement to 15 percent by 2015 and to 20 percent by 2020. See the new law, SB 2474, and for background, see the state's description of its 2001 requirements.

      Maine Approves a 50-Megawatt Wind Power Plant

      The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has approved the construction of the state's first wind power project, the Mars Hill Wind Power Project. The 50-megawatt project will consist of 30 wind turbines along a ridge and plateau at Mars Hill in northern Maine. See the Maine DEP press release.

      The Maine project will be one of the largest wind facilities in the Northeast, second only to the 64.5-megawatt Waymart Wind Farm in Pennsylvania. But both those projects will be dwarfed if a proposed project in New York State is built: Zilkha Renewable Energy and Atlantic Renewable Energy Corporation aim to build a 300-megawatt wind power plant on Tug Hill in Lewis County. The project includes a 10.5-mile transmission line to connect the wind plant to the power grid. The partners are in the midst of gaining permits for the project. See the Flat Rock Wind Power Project Web site for a description of the project and the latest news on the permitting process.

      While wind project developers continue to advance their plans in the Northeast, Invenergy, LLC is starting construction on a wind plant in the South. The 27-megawatt Buffalo Mountain Wind Energy Center in Anderson County, northwest of Knoxville, will feature 15 1.8-megawatt Vestas wind turbines. It will be the state's largest wind plant, located next to the only existing wind plant, a 1.98-megawatt facility owned by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). TVA will also buy the power from the new project, selling it through its Green Power Switch program. According to Michael Polsky, president of Invenergy, the company is moving forward with the project because it is confident that Congress will pass the wind energy production tax credit. The company expects the wind plant to begin commercial operation later this year. See the Invenergy press release (PDF 12 KB). Download Acrobat Reader.

      Navajo Utility Installs 63 Solar and Wind Power Systems

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      The Navajo systems combine a solar panel and a small wind turbine mounted to a utility pole.
      Credit: SunWize

      The Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA) has installed 63 renewable energy systems at remote homes throughout the Navajo Nation. SunWize Technologies announced last month that it supplied 880-watt solar photovoltaic power stations for the systems, which also incorporate Southwest Windpower wind turbines and a battery bank. See the SunWize Technologies press release (PDF 99 KB). Download Acrobat Reader.

      NTUA is an enterprise of the Navajo Nation, providing power to homes throughout the 25,000-square-mile Navajo reservation, which includes northeastern Arizona, northwestern New Mexico, and southeastern Utah. Despite its extensive power grid, the NTUA estimates that 18,000 homes in the Navajo Nation lack an electrical power connection. See the NTUA Web site.

      Site News


      Developed by the California Air Resources Board, DriveClean.ca.gov provides information about fuel-efficient and alternative fuel vehicles. Site features include a vehicle search tool, a database of state and federal incentives, and explanations of clean vehicle technologies.

      Energy Connections

      Short-Term Energy Outlook Reflects Uncertain Oil Markets

      Gasoline prices are finally on their way down, according to DOE's Energy Information Administration (EIA), and the declines are expected to continue as long as disruptions in the crude oil and gasoline markets are avoided. The EIA's latest "Short-Term Energy Outlook," released yesterday, reflects the uncertainty in the oil and gasoline markets, noting that "it is difficult to know what will happen in the near term." Despite that uncertainty, the EIA projects an increase in oil supply that will cause crude oil prices to drop, averaging $36.20 per barrel in the third quarter of this year after averaging $40.30 per barrel in May. As a result, the retail price for regular gasoline is expected to average $1.82 for the second half of 2004 after averaging $1.91 this summer.

      However, the EIA report places caveats on that projection, warning that "price spikes are still quite possible given the uncertainties surrounding Middle East instability, terrorism, Iraq, and the fact that, while more optimism for improvement is warranted, oil inventories worldwide are still low. In addition, currently low world oil surplus capacity levels provide an extremely limited cushion in the event of unexpected world oil market disruptions." See the EIA Short-Term Energy Outlook.

      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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