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EERE: Asst. Sec'y Declares a "Vision for Victory"

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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 , Apr 19, 2006
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      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/enn.cfm

      April 19, 2006

      News and Events

      Energy Connections

      • Analysis: Airline Industry is Hamstrung by Rising Fuel Prices

      News and Events

      Karsner: Advanced Energy Initiative is a "Vision for Victory"

      President Bush's Advanced Energy Initiative is a "Vision for Victory," according to Alexander Karsner, DOE's new Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). Speaking last week before the annual Power-Gen Renewable Energy and Fuels Conference, Assistant Secretary Karsner declared that the energy initiative could lead to victory over U.S. enemies; over U.S. dependence on unstable regimes and ideologies; and over "anxiety and misplaced fears that we are passive and helpless to better this nation and better our planet." Assistant Secretary Karsner emphasized, "Maximizing energy efficiency and renewable energy is the domestic epicenter in the war on terror, and it is imperative that we maximize the partnerships between the public and private sectors in new and creative ways with a sense of seriousness, national purpose, and the urgency the situation merits."

      Noting that this was no time for business as usual, Assistant Secretary Karsner called on "people of goodwill" for their help. "I need your partnership and your support and your leadership to overcome bureaucratic obstacles and to redefine the interaction between the public and private sectors," said Karsner. "I am asking you today to take this message to Capitol Hill and to the far corners of the country; to rise to the President's challenge; to rise above the conventional and insist on making a real difference in the way things are done." See Assistant Secretary Karsner's speech (PDF 99 KB) and his newly updated Office of EERE home page. Download Adobe Reader.

      New Jersey Increases its Renewable Energy Requirement

      The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) approved new regulations last week that will require the state's electric utilities to draw on wind power, solar power, and sustainable biomass power for 20 percent of their electricity by 2020. Previously, the BPU required utilities to draw on renewable energy sources for 4 percent of their power supply by 2008. That older requirement had ratcheted up to 3.5 percent renewable energy this year, but starting in June, utilities will have to meet an accelerated schedule geared toward the 2020 goal. The new regulations also require solar photovoltaic power to provide 2 percent of the state's electricity needs by 2020, requiring the installation of 1,500 megawatts of solar electric power. On a per capita basis, that's the largest solar requirement in the United States, cementing New Jersey's status as a solar power leader. New Jersey is already one of the fastest growing solar markets in the country, having grown from six solar power installations in 2001 to more than 1,200 installations today. See the BPU press release.

      AES and DuPont Form New Global Alternative Energy Divisions

      Two of the nation's largest corporations, AES and Dupont, created new global divisions for alternative energy businesses in the past week. The AES Corporation, one of the world's largest power companies, announced on Monday that it will create an "alternative energy business group" that will invest about $1 billion in alternative energy, including wind power and biomass, over the next three years. AES has invested $265 million in the wind generation business since 2004 and promises to triple its investments in wind power. The company also plans to create new alternative energy technologies through a partnership with DOE's Los Alamos National Laboratory. AES owns and operates 14 utilities and 128 electric power generation facilities. See the AES press release.

      DuPont announced last week that it is creating a new division to accelerate the company's biofuels research and create a newly designed biorefinery. Dupont, which currently draws about $300 million in revenue from biofuels, says DuPont Biofuels expects to substantially increase its activity, resources, and revenues in these markets by 2010. The company also said that it is increasingly relying on plant-based substances rather than fossil fuels as sources for many of its chemicals. See the DuPont press release.

      Alternative energy companies are also drawing increasing investments from venture capital firms. In February, Kleiner Perkins Caufield &

      Byers (KPCB) announced a new $100 million initiative in green technologies. Known for its success in picking winners in the computer and genetic engineering fields, KPCB has been quietly backing ventures in battery technology, solar cells, and solid oxide fuel cells for the past five years. Noting that disruptive energy innovations­those that can cause a dramatic shift in the use of one technology­are now possible because of recent advances in chemistry, genetics, and material science, KPCB mentioned biofuels, energy storage, and energy efficiency as "exciting, sustainable, and scalable" ventures. See the KPCB press release.

      Lexus Debuts the First V8 Hybrid Sedan in New York

      Photo of the Lexus LS 600h L.  

      The Lexus LS 600h L aims at the ultra-luxury market by adding a hybrid system to an eight-cylinder engine, achieving "best-in-V8-class" fuel efficiency.
      Credit: Toyota Motor Corporation

      Are you looking for 12-cylinder performance, but hoping for the fuel economy of an efficient V8? Toyota Motor Corporation has your answer, as the company's Lexus division has mated a hybrid electric system to a five-liter, eight-cylinder engine. The all-wheel-drive Lexus LS 600h L produces more than 430 horsepower from the motor and engine combination while delivering "best-in-V8-class fuel efficiency," according to Toyota. The LS 600h L will also be the world's first vehicle to be equipped with LED (light emitting diode) headlights, and is expected to qualify for a Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV) rating. The Lexus LS 600h L debuted last week at the New York International Auto Show and will go on sale in April 2007.

      Lexus also introduced two new traditional V8 sedans, the LS 460 and LS 460 L, which will employ the world's first eight-speed automatic transmission. The large number of gears saves fuel by better matching engine speed to power needs. See the Lexus press release.

      Green Roofs are Gaining Acceptance in U.S. Cities, Says Survey

      Photo of an urban rooftop with large patches of vegetation arou  

      Chicago, Illinois, is one of the leading U.S. cities for green roofs. In 2001, the roof of Chicago City Hall was retrofitted with a 22,000-square-foot rooftop garden.
      Credit: Katrin Scholz-Barth

      The area of U.S. roofs covered by vegetation has increased more than 80 percent in the past year, according to Green Roofs for Healthy Cities (GRHC), a trade association. So-called green roofs are rooftop gardens that reduce storm water runoff; insulate against heat and sound; increase energy savings; and improve air quality. They also reduce the urban heat island effect, which is caused by dark urban roofs, pavement, and other infrastructure absorbing the sun's heat. The GRHC recently completed its first survey of its members to gauge the growth of green roofs, finding that in 2005, green roofs covered at least 2.5 million square feet of roof space in North America, up from 1.3 million square feet in 2004. Cities that incorporate the largest area of green roofs in 2005 include Chicago, Illinois; Washington, D.C.; and Suitland, Maryland. Toronto may catch up to these other cities quickly, since the city council recently passed a policy that requires green roofs to be incorporated into city buildings and provides financial incentives for green roofs. GRHC is currently gearing up for its annual conference, to be held May 11th and 12th in Boston, Massachusetts. See the GRHC press release (PDF 196 KB), survey report (PDF 220 KB), and conference Web page, and the City of Toronto's Green Roof Strategy. Download Adobe Reader.

      Green roofs are not the only way cities are working to combat the urban heat island effect, which causes urban and suburban temperatures to be 2 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than nearby rural areas. So-called "cool roofs," which absorb less heat than standard roofs, can reduce the urban heat island effect and lower the cooling needs for buildings. While cool roofs are typically thought of as white, recent research has developed darker roofs that absorb less energy than traditional dark roofs. Last week, the California Energy Commission (CEC) awarded more than $1.2 million to DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory for a three-year project to develop, deploy, and validate cool roof technologies. See the CEC press release.

      The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is also doing its part through its Urban Heat Island Initiative, which has instituted pilot projects and strategies for combating the urban heat island effect. According to the EPA, urban heat islands increase peak energy demand, air conditioning costs, air pollution levels, and heat-related illness and mortality. As part of the initiative, the EPA has launched a new online database that tracks state and local initiatives to reduce heat islands. See the database and the EPA Heat Island Web site.

      DOE Conducts Industrial Energy Assessments in Six States

      DOE has launched Energy Saving Assessments at industrial facilities in California, Florida, Michigan, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin over the past week. The facilities include a cement factory in Mojave, California; a chemical plant in Plant City, Florida; a General Motors Corporation manufacturing plant in Pontiac, Michigan; a chemical plant in Columbus, Mississippi; a specialty materials plant in Towanda, Pennsylvania; and a dairy food facility in Richland Center, Wisconsin. As one example, the Florida chemical plant is owned by CF Industries, Inc. and produces about two million tons per year of ammonium phosphate fertilizer. Steam produced in part of the plant is used for process heating and to generate about 32 megawatts of power, most of which is used to power the plant. Such steam and process heating systems are the primary focus of DOE's free three-day energy assessments, which are helping major manufacturing facilities to identify energy-saving opportunities. See the CF Industries Web site and the DOE press releases on the visits to California, Florida, Michigan, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

      DOE's Energy Saving Teams have completed visits to 29 large federal facilities and are in the process of visiting 200 energy-intensive manufacturing facilities as part of the national "Easy Ways to Save Energy" campaign launched in October 2005. The first 22 industrial Energy Saving Assessments have identified a total of $78 million per year in potential energy cost savings. If implemented, these energy-saving measures could reduce natural gas consumption by more than 9 trillion Btu per year. See the results of many of these industrial Energy Saving Assessments on the "Save Energy Now" Web site, provided by DOE's Industrial Technologies Program.

      Energy Connections

      Analysis: Airline Industry is Hamstrung by Rising Fuel Prices

      Jet fuel prices are on their way up, and that's bad news for the airline industry, according to the Air Transport Association (ATA). The airline association notes that crude oil prices are expected to average nearly $70 per barrel this summer, and jet fuel recently hit a peak price of $2 per gallon, a significant increase over the average price of $1.45 for the first quarter of 2005. According to the ATA, airline fuel efficiency has tripled since 1971, and as of 2005 had reached 44.4 passenger miles per gallon. This increased efficiency is partly due to fuller flights, but airlines are also making efforts to cut unnecessary weight, lower cruising speeds, taxi with only one engine, and use air terminal power sources for electricity and air conditioning while on the ground. The ATA is currently pushing for changes to air traffic control rules, which it claims could save an additional hundreds of millions of gallons of jet fuel per year. See the ATA press release and a related question and answer Web page.

      Of course, if you skip the flight and choose to drive instead, you'll also be dealing with higher fuel costs. According to the Fuel Gauge Report from the American Automobile Association, the average retail price for mid-octane unleaded gasoline is quickly approaching $3 per gallon. Like jet fuel, gasoline prices are going up as crude oil futures are hitting $70 per barrel. See the Fuel Gage Report for the latest gasoline prices, and for the latest futures price for crude oil, see the New York Mercantile Exchange Web site.

      This newsletter is funded by DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and is also available on the EERE Web site. You can subscribe to the EERE Network News using our simple online form, and you can also update your email address, add a subscription to EERE Progress Alerts, or unsubscribe using our " Change My Subscription" page.

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