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EERE Network News -- 05/25/05

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  • EERE Network News by way of Tom Gray
    [] [] A weekly newsletter from the U.S. Department of Energy s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). The
    Message 1 of 1 , May 24, 2005
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      A weekly newsletter from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE)
      <http://www.eere.energy.gov/>Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable
      Energy (EERE). The EERE Network News is also available on the Web at:

      May 25, 2005

      News and Events

      * Toyota to Manufacture Camry Hybrids in Kentucky
      * Growth in Solar Power Drives Changes in Silicon Supplies
      * New Technologies Promise to Revolutionize the Solar Power Industry
      * Cow Manure and Cotton Gin Waste to Fuel Ethanol Plant in Texas
      * First Commercial Wave Power Plant Slated for Portugal
      * Global Wind Power Study Finds Huge Potential
      * Editor's Note on Revised 2005 Tour de Sol Results

      Energy Connections

      * Six Sites Considered for Future Advanced Nuclear Power Plants

      News and Events

      Toyota to Manufacture Camry Hybrids in Kentucky

      Toyota Motor Manufacturing North America announced last week that it will
      begin building a hybrid-electric version of the Camry—Toyota's
      top-selling vehicle—at its Georgetown, Kentucky, plant in late 2006. The
      Camry hybrid will be Toyota's first hybrid produced in North America, and
      only the second hybrid vehicle to be manufactured in the United States
      (Ford Motor Company currently produces the Escape Hybrid in Kansas City,
      Missouri). Toyota will invest $10 million to upgrade the plant for hybrid
      production and will have the ability to produce 48,000 Camry hybrids per
      year. The company did not yet release specific details about the Camry
      hybrid. See the
      press release.

      A photo of the Toyota Prius

      The Toyota Prius is currently the top-selling hybrid in the United States.
      Credit: Toyota

      The Toyota news comes on the heels of record-breaking sales of hybrid
      vehicles in the United States. In late April, R.L. Polk & Company
      reported that U.S. registrations for new hybrid vehicles increased by 81
      percent in 2004, to 83,153. The Toyota Prius dominated the U.S. market in
      2004 with 53,761 new-vehicle registrations, about 64 percent of the total.
      Sales of the Prius are continuing to gain strength in 2005: In April alone,
      Toyota sold 11,345 of the vehicles in the United States, a near doubling of
      sales over April 2004. In addition, Toyota's Lexus division launched its RX
      400h hybrid sport utility vehicle on April 18th and reported selling 2,345
      of the vehicles by month's end. American Honda Motor Company, Inc. is also
      experiencing record sales of its hybrid vehicles, with year-to-date hybrid
      sales at 14,604 vehicles at the end of April, a 56.7 percent increase above
      last year's sales figures for the same time period. Ford Motor Company
      likewise reported record sales of its Escape Hybrid in April, although it
      did not provide sales figures. See the press release from
      <http://www.hondanews.com/CatID1000?mid=2005050357026&mime=asc>Honda, and

      Growth in Solar Power Drives Changes in Silicon Supplies

      The rapid expansion in the solar power industry appears to be causing
      structural changes among the suppliers of silicon, the primary material for
      manufacturing most of the world's photovoltaic solar cells. Since silicon
      is also used to produce computer chips, the solar cell market has
      traditionally been a secondary market for silicon—a fact that has
      occasionally caused supply disruptions for solar cell manufacturers. That
      situation seems to have reversed itself at Germany's Wacker Polysilicon,
      which is expanding its polycrystalline silicon production from 5,000 metric
      tons per year to 9,000 metric tons per year by 2007. According to the
      company, this time the rise in production is mainly attributable to the
      solar industry, and although Wacker has been supplying the semiconductor
      industry for 50 years, it has been increasingly supplying the photovoltaics
      industry over the past five years. Wacker has even developed a new
      fluidized-bed process for producing granular polycrystalline silicon, and
      is currently testing the process in two pilot reactors. See the
      press release.

      SolarWorld AG, a German solar power company, has taken a multi-pronged
      approach to the silicon supply problem: It signed a 10-year silicon supply
      agreement with Wacker in late April, but it has also formed a joint venture
      with another company to produce a dedicated supply of solar silicon. Test
      runs began last month at the prototype plant for the joint venture, called
      Joint Solar Silicon GmbH & Co KG (JSSI). Producing solar-grade silicon from
      silane, a gas, JSSI expects to supply 800 tons per year of solar silicon by
      2007. See SolarWorld's press releases from
      18th and

      Currently, the world's only dedicated producer of polycrystalline silicon
      for solar cells is located in Moses Lake, Washington. Solar Grade Silicon,
      LLC (SGS)—a joint venture of Japan's AsiMI LLC and Norway's Renewable
      Energy Corporation AS (REC)—produced roughly 2,100 metric tons of solar
      silicon from silane gas in 2004, capturing 30 percent of the market,
      according to REC. The company claims that the current supply of solar
      silicon is less than demand and may remain so through 2007. To help meet
      that demand, SGS is currently expanding and will produce 2,300 metric tons
      of silicon in 2005, according to REC. See the
      <http://www.rec-pv.no/article/view/31081.html>REC press release and REC's
      <http://www.rec-pv.no/text/view/3515.html>SGS Web page.

      New Technologies Promise to Revolutionize the Solar Power Industry

      While the conventional silicon solar cell industry is facing supply
      constraints, a number of new solar cell technologies aim to produce solar
      cells from new materials, at lower cost, with higher efficiencies, and in
      new forms. With a wide diversity of approaches, the photovoltaic solar cell
      industry remains dynamic, and the next breakthrough appears to be just
      around the next corner.

      One of the most promising new technologies is quantum dots, particles of
      semiconductor material smaller than 10 billionths of a meter. At such small
      scales, quantum effects cause the dots to respond differently to light
      depending on their size, an effect allowing the dots to be "tuned" to
      different wavelengths of light. A new study from DOE's National Renewable
      Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the Naval Research Laboratory suggests that
      quantum dots could theoretically yield a solar cell with twice the
      efficiency of today's solar cells. Quantum dots can produce as many as
      three electrons from a single photon of light, so they can theoretically
      convert as much as 65 percent of the sun's energy into electricity,
      according to the researchers. The findings were published in a recent issue
      of the American Chemical Society's Nano Letters journal. See the
      <http://www.nrel.gov/news/press/2005/1805_quantum_dot.html>NREL press release.

      Quantum dots aren't just theory: Evident Technologies, already considered a
      leader in quantum dot development, recently teamed with Konarka
      Technologies, Inc. in an effort to combine quantum dots with Konarka's
      flexible plastic solar cells. Meanwhile, Konarka is also incorporating its
      so-called "power plastic" into tents and portable chargers for the U.S.
      Army, even coloring it with a camouflage pattern, while also working on
      power-generating fibers and plastics. And for those who prefer foil to
      plastic, DayStar Technologies, Inc. is developing its TerraFoil, a flexible
      metallic solar cell made by depositing thin films of semiconductor material
      onto foil. See the
      23rd and
      4th press releases from Konarka, as well as the
      <http://www.daystartech.com/press051105.htm>DayStar Technologies press release.

      Cow Manure and Cotton Gin Waste to Fuel Ethanol Plant in Texas

      Ethanol fuel has a big advantage over conventional motor fuels: its primary
      energy source is the starch found in corn and other grains, a renewable
      source of energy. However, in most ethanol fuel plants, that benefit is
      watered down a bit by the use of fossil fuels to run the fermentation and
      distillation processes that convert the starch to ethanol. The developers
      of a new ethanol fuel plant in Hereford, Texas ­located about 40 miles
      southwest of Amarillo­plan to avoid that dilemma through an unusual
      approach: the biofuel plant will produce its fuel using biomass energy. As
      you might guess from the name, Hereford has an ample supply of cattle
      manure, and the plant will combine that with cotton gin waste, converting
      the mixture into a clean-burning biogas to fuel the plant's boilers. The
      Panda Group is developing the project and plans to break ground on the
      project this summer, with commercial operation expected in late 2006. The
      plant will produce 100 million gallons of ethanol per year from corn and
      milo, a type of sorghum that produces large yellow or whitish seeds. See
      the Panda Energy press release
      (<http://www.pandaenergy.com/images/PressReleaseMay-3-2005.pdf>PDF 95 KB).
      <http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/alternate.html>Download Acrobat Reader.

      Something must be in the air in Texas, because a similar idea is being put
      to the test in Denton, about 30 miles north of Fort Worth. Biodiesel
      Industries, Inc. and the City of Denton dedicated a new biodiesel plant in
      late March that uses landfill gas to provide all its process heat and power
      needs. See the press release from the National Biodiesel Board
      27 KB).

      Such efficient uses of biomass energy could help to put the United States
      on the road to energy independence, according to a recent feasibility study
      prepared for DOE and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The study by DOE's
      Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) outlines a strategy in which 1 billion
      dry tons of biomass would displace 30 percent of the petroleum used for
      transportation in the United States. According to the study, such an amount
      would represent a six-fold increase in biomass production, but could be
      achieved with relatively modest changes in land use and agricultural and
      forestry practices. See the
      press release or go directly to the full report
      (<http://feedstockreview.ornl.gov/pdf/billion_ton_vision.pdf>PDF 8 MB).

      First Commercial Wave Power Plant Slated for Portugal


      An illustration shows a dozen red pencil-shaped devices, each a

      An artist's concept of the Pelamis wave energy plant.
      Credit: Ocean Power Delivery

      Ocean Power Delivery (OPD) announced last week that a Portuguese consortium
      has ordered the world's first commercial wave energy plant to be installed
      five kilometers off of Portugal's northern shore. The initial phase of the
      project will consist of three Pelamis wave energy converters, each capable
      of producing 750 kilowatts of power, for a combined capacity of 2.25
      megawatts. If the first phase of the project is successful, the consortium
      may order another 30 Pelamis machines, increasing the capacity of the
      installation to nearly 25 megawatts. The consortium is led by Enersis SGPS,
      one of Portugal's leading renewable energy companies. See the OPD press
      (<http://www.oceanpd.com/docs/OPD%20Enersis%20Press%20Release.pdf>PDF 76
      KB). <http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/alternate.html>Download Acrobat

      The Pelamis device consists of four long semi-submerged cylinders connected
      by hinged joints and moored to the ocean floor. The wave action passing
      these cylinders causes the joints to bend, an action resisted by hydraulic
      rams, which pump high-pressure oil through hydraulic motors to generate
      power. See the <http://www.oceanpd.com/Pelamis/default.html>OPD Web site.

      In related news, the U.K.'s Robert Gordon University has launched a tidal
      current power device called the Sea Snail in Burra Sound on the northern
      Scotland island of Orkney. The device uses a hydrofoil to produce power
      from the current, but also uses the downforce from the hydrofoil to hold
      the device firmly on the sea floor without mooring devices. See the
      release and <http://www.rgu.ac.uk/cree/general/page.cfm?pge=10769>Sea Snail
      Web page.

      Global Wind Power Study Finds Huge Potential

      A new global wind power map has found enough wind energy to easily supply
      the world's power, according to the American Geophysical Union (AGU).
      Researchers from Stanford University collected wind speed measurements from
      about 7,500 surface stations and 500 balloon-launch stations to determine
      global wind speeds at 80 meters (300 feet) above the surface, which is the
      hub height of modern wind turbines. Using a mathematical technique to
      extend those results over the entire globe, the Stanford researchers report
      that nearly 13 percent of world experiences winds with average annual
      speeds of 15 miles per hour, which the researchers consider strong enough
      for power generation. Such wind speeds were found in every region of the
      world, although North America was found to have the greatest wind power
      potential. The report will be published this month in the Journal of
      Geophysical Research - Atmospheres, an AGU publication.

      The authors found that the locations with suitable wind resources could
      produce about 72 trillion watts of power. In contrast, DOE's Energy
      Information Administration (EIA) estimated the world's
      electricity-generating capacity in 2002 at 3.45 trillion watts. See the
      <http://www.agu.org/sci_soc/prrl/prrl0514.html>AGU press release and the
      <http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/iea/elec.html>electricity tables from EIA's
      International Energy Annual 2002.

      Editor's Note on Revised 2005 Tour de Sol Results

      Editor's Note: Last week's newsletter reported on the National 2005 Tour de
      Sol, but since then the event organizers have revised their rally results.
      See our
      <http://www.eere.energy.gov/news/news_detail.cfm?news_id=9058>updated story
      on the event.

      Energy Connections

      Six Sites Considered for Future Advanced Nuclear Power Plants

      NuStart Energy Development LLC, a consortium of nine nuclear power
      companies and two nuclear reactor vendors, took another step toward
      reviving the U.S. nuclear power industry last week, when it announced its
      selection of six potential locations for future nuclear power plants. The
      six locations are in the states of Alabama, Louisiana, Maryland,
      Mississippi, New York, and South Carolina, and five of the six sites are at
      existing nuclear power stations. By October, NuStart plans to pick two of
      the sites and move ahead with the licensing process for those sites. See
      the <http://www.nustartenergy.com/DisplayArticle.aspx?ID=20050520-1>NuStart
      press release.

      Earlier this month, NuStart signed an agreement with DOE to complete the
      designs for two advanced nuclear power plants and to demonstrate the
      Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) licensing process for those plants.
      Under the 50-50 cost sharing agreement, NuStart will complete the detailed
      engineering work for two designs: the Westinghouse Advanced Passive 1000
      Reactor and the General Electric Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor.
      Once the two plant locations are chosen, the design analyses will be
      integrated with the characteristics of the selected sites, and NuStart will
      develop comprehensive applications for two construction and operating
      licenses. NuStart expects to submit its license applications to the NRC in
      2008 and could receive the licenses as early as 2010. See the
      press release.

      This newsletter is funded by DOE's <http://www.eere.energy.gov/>Office of
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