EERE: Asst. Sec'y Declares a "Vision for Victory"
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
- Karsner: Advanced Energy Initiative is a
"Vision for Victory"
- New Jersey Increases its Renewable Energy Requirement
- AES and DuPont Form New Global Alternative Energy Divisions
- Lexus Debuts the First V8 Hybrid Sedan in New York
- Green Roofs are Gaining Acceptance in U.S. Cities, Says Survey
- DOE Conducts Industrial Energy Assessments in Six States
- Analysis: Airline Industry is Hamstrung by Rising Fuel Prices
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.
BPU press release.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Analysis: Airline Industry is Hamstrung by Rising Fuel PricesJet 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.
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- Karsner: Advanced Energy Initiative is a "Vision for Victory"