Wednesday, October 29, 2008

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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

October 29, 2008
News and Events
White House and DOE Present Awards for Federal Energy Savings
Interior Department to Open 190 Million Acres to Geothermal Power
Dell and City of Chicago Join Ranks of Top Green Power Buyers
U.S. Solar Power Manufacturing Growing Dramatically
Ausra Opens its First Concentrating Solar Power Plant in California
California Releases Plans to Cut its Greenhouse Emissions
Energy Connections
U.N. Environment Programme Launches Green Economy Initiative
News and Events
White House and DOE Present Awards for Federal Energy Savings
The White House honored energy management teams from four federal entities on October 23 with Presidential Awards for Leadership in Federal Energy Management, which honored the teams for their support, leadership, and work in promoting and improving energy use in their facilities. The teams included 44 federal employees and contractors that were collectively responsible for reducing the federal government's annual energy use by 3 trillion Btu—roughly equal to the annual energy use of 32,000 average U.S. households—for an annual cost savings of about $72 million. Teams from the Office of Public and Indian Housing at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Marine Corps' Air Station Miramar, the U.S. General Services Administration's Pacific Rim Region office, and the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration were chosen for the awards. See the DOE press release.

In addition, DOE honored 22 individuals, teams, and organizations with Federal Energy and Water Management Awards for saving $28 million at federal agencies in fiscal year 2007 through their efforts to save water and energy. The awards went to individuals, teams, and organizations at DOE's Princeton University Plasma Physics Laboratory in New Jersey; the Tennessee Valley Authority; the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Fort Meade Environmental Science Center in Maryland and Research Triangle Park Campus in North Carolina; the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' VA Medical Center in Huntington, West Virginia; the U.S. Department of Interior's Woods Hole Science Center in Massachusetts, San Andres National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico, and Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge in Ohio; the General Service Administration's Frederick Murphy Record Center in Massachusetts and Northeast and Caribbean Region office in New York; the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Kennedy Space Center in Florida; the U.S. Air Force's Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, Moody Air Force Base in Georgia, Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, and Charleston Air Force Base in South Carolina; the U.S. Army's Fort Hood in Texas; the U.S. Marine Corps' Air Station Miramar and Camp Pendleton in California; and the U.S. Navy's Ventura County Naval Base and Navy Region Southwest office in California, Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division, in Pennsylvania, and Naval Facilities Engineering Command in Washington, D.C. See the complete list of awardees on the Federal Energy Management Program Web site.

The Federal Energy and Water Management Award winners were selected from nominations submitted by 16 federal agencies for their efforts in the fields of water conservation, renewable energy, sustainable design and high performance buildings, vehicle fleet management, energy efficiency and energy program management, and exceptional service. DOE also presented 10 internal awards to DOE programs, teams, and individuals at the 2008 DOE Transformational Energy Action Management (TEAM) Award Ceremony. The TEAM Initiative, which began in August 2007, aims to reduce the energy intensity at DOE facilities nationwide by 30%. The 10 TEAM awardees have developed projects that, when fully implemented, will reduce DOE's energy intensity to 20% lower than its 2003 levels. See the DOE press release and the TEAM Initiative Web site.

Interior Department to Open 190 Million Acres to Geothermal Power


The Interior Department plans to offer more than 190 million acres of federal lands for geothermal leasing, potentially resulting in a tripling of U.S. geothermal power capacity by 2015. Enlarge this image.
Credit: J.L. Renner, INL

The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) announced last week that it plans to make more than 190 million acres of federal land in 12 western states available for geothermal energy development. DOI's Final Geothermal Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) identifies 118 million acres of public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and 79 million acres of National Forest System lands that could be opened to future geothermal leasing, potentially leading to 5,540 megawatts (MW) of new geothermal power capacity by 2015. The PEIS excludes wilderness areas, wilderness study areas, and national parks. It will amend 122 BLM land use plans to allow for geothermal development, while allowing the Forest Service the discretion of evaluating geothermal leasing and considering whether to amend its land use plans. The document also includes site-specific environmental analyses for 19 pending geothermal lease applications for seven sites in Alaska, California, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. The plan will take effect via a Record of Decision, which will not be issued until the governors of the 12 states—Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming—are able to review the document and resolve any conflicts with state plans, programs, or policies. See the DOI press release and the full Final Geothermal PEIS.

The Interior Department's estimates of potential geothermal power production may actually be low, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). In late September, the USGS released its first assessment of geothermal resources in more than 30 years. The study found that identified geothermal resources in the West could produce 9,057 MW of power, while another 30,033 MW of power could be generated from conventional geothermal resources that have not yet been discovered. The use of Enhanced Geothermal Systems, which involves creating or expanding a geothermal resource through the high-pressure injection of a fluid, opens another 517,800 MW to potential development. For comparison, the U.S. currently has an installed geothermal power capacity of about 2,500 MW. One example of a company willing to explore new resources is Ormat Technologies, Inc., which has secured 15 of the 16 tracts offered for lease on Mount Spurr, Alaska, an active volcanic region about 75 miles west of Anchorage. Ormat is also working with DOE on a project to produce geothermal power using hot water from a producing oil well. Ormat recently validated the feasibility of the technology at the Rocky Mountain Oil Test Center near Casper, Wyoming. See the USGS press release and report and the Ormat press releases on Mount Spurr and the power production at an oil field.

In recent weeks, geothermal power development in Utah has hit several milestones. Raser Technologies, Inc. announced last week that it has completed major construction of its Thermo geothermal plant, the first commercial geothermal power plant built in Utah in more than two decades. The 10-megawatt facility combined 50 modular, low-temperature PureCycle power units from UTC Power, allowing power plant construction in just a few months. Utah is also slated to host a new 100-megawatt geothermal power plant, to be located on lands owned by the Northwest Band of the Shoshone Nation. LotusWorks, an Irish company, will work with Meridian Clean Fuels and the tribal-owned Shoshone Renaissance, LLC to develop the plant. Drilling has begun for the first 32-megawatt phase of the project, which is scheduled for completion in mid-2010, followed in successive years by the second and third phases of the project. The Shoshone Renaissance plant will likely be the first geothermal power project located on tribal lands in the United States. Power from the first two phases will be sold to Riverside Public Utilities in Riverside, California. See the press releases from Raser, LotusWorks (PDF 36 KB), and Riverside Public Utilities. Download Adobe Reader.

Dell and City of Chicago Join Ranks of Top Green Power Buyers
Dell, Inc. and the City of Chicago, Illinois, have become major purchasers of electricity from renewable energy sources, earning them top spots on the national top-50 list of green power purchasers. On Monday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a quarterly update of its rankings of green power purchasers under the EPA Green Power Partnership, and Dell jumped from 25th place to fourth place after increasing its green power purchases by nearly a factor of five. The purchases actually exceed Dell's electricity use by about 58%, helping to offset greenhouse gas emissions from other forms of energy use within the company. Meanwhile, the City of Chicago is now buying enough green power to meet 20% of its electricity needs, placing it 16th on the national top-50 list and third on the top-20 list of local governments that are buying green power. Chicago has not previously appeared on the EPA's lists. Along with the quarterly update, the EPA took the opportunity to revise several of its lists, expanding its national list from the top 25 to the top 50 and enlarging its lists for retail companies, local governments, and colleges and universities from the top 10 to the top 20. See the Dell press release and the lists on the EPA Green Power Partnership Web site.

DOE, the EPA, and the Center for Resource Solutions (CRS) also presented the 2008 Green Power Leadership Awards on Monday. The four DOE Green Power Supplier Awards went to AmerenUE, which launched its Pure Power green pricing program in Illinois and Missouri in October 2007; the City of Palo Alto (California) Utilities, which has 20.4% of its customers signed up for the PaloAltoGreen green pricing program, marking the highest customer participation rate in the country; 3Degrees, which has annual green power sales of 4 billion kilowatt-hours, serving 6 of the top 15 corporate purchasers as well as many utility green pricing programs; and Sterling Planet, which has annual sales of renewable energy credits totaling 4.5 billion kilowatt-hours. The EPA recognized 16 green power purchasers, including the U.S. Air Force, Intel Corporation, Kohl's Department Stores, the Philadelphia Phillies, the City of Houston, and many other notable organizations. Meanwhile, CRS provided its market development awards to Portland General Electric, Detroit Edison, the Energy Action Coalition, Green Mountain Energy Company, and to Dr. Jan Hamrin, who founded CRS and helped to launch the Green-e certification program for green power. See the EPA press release and the list of award winners.

U.S. Solar Power Manufacturing Growing Dramatically
New manufacturing facilities for solar cells and modules in Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, Oregon, and Texas promise to add enough capacity to produce thousands of megawatts of solar devices per year within the next few years. In late September, Sanyo Electric Company, Ltd. announced its decision to build a manufacturing plant for solar ingots and wafers (the building blocks for silicon solar cells) in Salem, Oregon. The plant will begin operating in October 2009 and will reach its full production capacity of 70 megawatts (MW) of solar wafers per year by April 2010. In early October, First Solar, Inc. broke ground on an expansion of its Perrysburg, Ohio, facility that will add enough capacity to produce another 57 MW per year of solar modules at the facility, bringing its total capacity to roughly 192 MW per year. The company expects to complete construction early next year and reach full production by mid-2010. And in mid-October, SolarWorld AG opened a manufacturing plant in Hillsboro, Oregon, that is expected to produce 500 MW of solar cells per year when it reaches full production in 2011. See the press releases from Sanyo, First Solar, and SolarWorld.

Production is also surging ahead for manufacturers of flexible thin-film solar modules. Energy Conversion Devices, Inc. (ECD)—a manufacturer of thin-film modules deposited on flexible stainless steel—has announced plans to build a facility in Battle Creek, Michigan, that will produce 120 MW of solar modules per year. ECD will start construction this fall, with production starting by the end of 2009. ECD has the option of doubling its production capacity in Battle Creek and has plans to reach 1,000 MW of annual production by 2012. Konarka Technologies, Inc. deposits its solar modules onto a flexible plastic substrate, and the company has just reopened a former Polaroid Corporation facility in New Bedford, Massachusetts, that has been converted into a production facility for Konarka's "Power Plastic" solar modules. Konarka expects the facility to reach its capacity to produce of 1,000 MW of solar modules per year by 2011. Both companies employ a roll-to-roll process, similar to a newspaper printing press, for the manufacture of their solar modules. The manufacturing process offers the possibility of achieving high production capacities at a lower cost than most solar cell manufacturing plants. See the press releases from ECD and Konarka.

Last but not least, HelioVolt Corporation cut the ribbon last week on a manufacturing facility in Austin, Texas, that will have an initial capacity to produce 20 MW of solar cells per year. Starting with solar "inks" developed at DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory that are deposited with ink jets, HelioVolt employs a proprietary "printing" process to produce solar cells consisting of thin films of copper indium gallium selenide, or CIGS. The technology won an R&D 100 Award this year, and at last week's award ceremony, it earned an Editor's Choice Award for Most Revolutionary Technology. HelioVolt's "FASST" reactive transfer printing process is 10-100 times faster than other CIGS production processes and can also be combined with vacuum evaporation or ultrasonic spray deposition techniques. At its new Austin manufacturing plant, HelioVolt plans to produce both solar modules and next-generation building-integrated solar products using its FASST process. See the HelioVolt press releases for the Editor's Choice Award and the manufacturing plant.

Ausra Opens its First Concentrating Solar Power Plant in California


The Ausra technology employs flat mirrors that direct sunlight onto an overhead tube, in which water is boiled into steam.
Credit: Ausra, Inc.

Ausra, Inc. launched its first commercial solar power plant last week. The 5-megawatt (MW) Kimberlina Solar Thermal Energy Plant in Bakersfield, California, is the first to use Ausra's innovative technology that replaces trough-shaped solar mirrors with a series of narrow, flat mirrors, which mimic the performance of a solar trough at a lower cost. The power plant is also the first of its kind to be built in California in more than 20 years, with the previous plant being the Solar Energy Generating System (SEGS) near Barstow, which employs solar troughs. But while the SEGS plant heats oil that is used to boil water in a separate boiler, the Ausra technology focuses the sun's heat onto pipes that carry water, which is boiled directly into steam. The steam can then be used for either power production or as process steam in a factory. See the Ausra press release.

The Kimberlina plant will also be seen as a crucial demonstration of the Ausra technology before the company develops its Carrizo Plains solar power plant, a 177-MW facility for which the company holds a power purchase agreement with Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E). Ausra intends to build the facility in central California and to start producing power in 2010. Ausra and PG&E have also committed to developing 1,000 MW of concentrating solar power (CSP) over the next five years, and Ausra's technology is also slated for a 300-megawatt CSP plant planned for Florida. But Ausra seems confident, as it opened a manufacturing facility in Las Vegas, Nevada, this summer to produce the reflectors, absorber tubes, and other key components used in its CSP plants. See the Ausra press release and the article from the October 3, 2007, edition of this newsletter on Ausra's other CSP commitments.

California Releases Plans to Cut its Greenhouse Emissions
Three California agencies have proposed plans to reduce the state's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. The emissions cuts are required by AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, which requires the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to develop a plan to meet the cuts. CARB's proposed plan, released in mid-October, relies heavily on a cap-and-trade program, which covers 85% of the state's GHG emissions. That program will be developed in conjunction with the Western Climate Initiative, which includes seven states and four Canadian provinces. To spur emissions cuts, CARB proposes an increased use of renewable energy, expanded energy efficiency programs, the implementation of California's clean cars standards, and a low-carbon fuel standard. Other measures include the full deployment of the California Solar Initiative, as well as high-speed rail, water efficiency programs, regulations to reduce emissions at ports, and efforts to reduce GHG emissions that aren't related to energy. See the CARB press release.

Meanwhile, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and the California Energy Commission have adopted their recommendations on how to cut the state's GHG emissions. The recommendations call for the state to pursue all cost-effective energy efficiency measures, including more stringent building and appliance standards, as well as a requirement for utilities to draw on renewable power for 33% of their electricity sales. The recommendations also note the need to encourage combined heat and power systems. Regarding the cap-and-trade program, the recommendations call for all emissions allowances to be auctioned off by 2016, with the auction revenues used for renewable energy, energy efficiency, new energy technology, infrastructure improvements, and customer bill relief. See the CPUC press release.

Energy Connections
U.N. Environment Programme Launches Green Economy Initiative
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and leading economists are calling for a radical shift to a new "green" economy. The UNEP Green Economy Initiative, also known as the "Global Green New Deal," was launched last week with an emphasis on investing in clean technologies and "natural infrastructure," such as forests and soils. The initiative emphasizes five sectors that it claims are likely to generate the biggest transition in terms of economic returns, environmental sustainability, and job creation. Those five sectors include clean energy and clean technology, such as recycling; rural energy, including renewable energy and biomass; sustainable agriculture; ecosystem infrastructure; reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation; and sustainable cities, including planning, transportation, and green buildings. In other words, energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies are included in three of the five sectors that the UNEP believes the world's economy should be focused on. Within the next two years, the Green Economy Initiative plans to deliver a comprehensive assessment and tool kit for the world's nations to make the transition to a green economy. See the UNEP press release.

This newsletter is funded by DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and is also available on the EERE Web site. If you have questions or comments about this newsletter, please contact the editor.

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