Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Secretary of Energy Steven Chu on Thursday announced a comprehensive environmental analysis that identifies proposed ‘solar energy zones’ on public lands in six western states most suitable for environmentally sound, utility-scale solar energy production.
The detailed study, known as the Draft Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, was two years in the making, and the public is encouraged to provide comment on the draft plan during the next 90 days.
“This proposal lays out the next phase of President Obama’s strategy for rapid and responsible development of renewable energy on America’s public lands,” Secretary Salazar said. “This analysis will help renewable energy companies and federal agencies focus development on areas of our public lands that are best suited for large-scale solar development. Our early, ‘Smart from the Start,’ planning will help us site solar projects in the right places, and reduce conflicts and delays at later stages of the development process.”
“Our country has incredible renewable resources, innovative entrepreneurs, a skilled workforce, and manufacturing know-how,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “It’s time to harness these resources and lead in the global clean energy economy. Today’s announcement is part of an integrated strategy to cultivate the entire innovation chain to create the jobs of the 21st century economy and to put America on a sustainable energy path.”
Under the study’s Preferred Alternative, the BLM would establish a new Solar Energy Program that would standardize and streamline the authorization process and establish mandatory design features for solar energy development on BLM lands.
The Interior Department is pursuing a similar process for identifying areas of the Atlantic coast of offshore wind development.
DOE to Fund Innovative Solar Technologies
The Department of Energy (DOE) announced its intent to fund up to $50 million to test and demonstrate innovative technologies that will lead to cost-competitive solar energy technologies.
The demonstration program will be a critical link between the Department of Energy's advanced technology development programs and full-scale commercialization efforts.
The Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) will serve as a proving ground for cutting-edge solar technologies, such as concentrating solar thermal power and concentrating photovoltaic energy, which can be used for utility applications in the Southwestern United States where there is an abundance of solar energy.
DOE expects to release the Funding Opportunity Announcement early next year. Potential technology applications include Concentrated Solar Power systems that use mirrors to reflect and concentrate sunlight on a heat absorbing fluid, convert it to steam, and ultimately generate electricity, as well as Concentrated Photovoltaic Power that uses lenses to concentrate sunlight to improve the efficiency of conventional photovoltaics.
The demonstration projects as part of the Solar Demonstration Zone will be deployed at a large enough scale to provide useful operating and economic data for the eventual deployment of solar energy projects at utility-scale, which are typically grid-connected projects larger than 20 megawatts.
DOE Announces up to $184M for Advanced Vehicle R&D
DOE is accepting applications for up to $184 million over three to five years to accelerate the development and deployment of new efficient vehicle technologies that will reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil and limit carbon pollution.
Projects will span the broad spectrum of technology approaches, including advanced materials, combustion research, hybrid electric systems, fleet efficiency, and fuels technology.
The Funding Opportunity Announcement addresses the development of key technologies required to achieve large scale adoption of advanced vehicles such as plug-in electric hybrids (PHEVs) and electric vehicles (EVs).
Although the first of a new generation of electric drive vehicles is now entering the market, advancements in batteries, power electronics and lightweight materials are required to be fully competitive. In addition, extremely efficient vehicles utilizing improved combustion technologies, fuels, and waste heat recovery offer significant near-term improvements to conventional vehicles.
The Department is seeking applications from industry, laboratory and university teams to address our transportation challenges. The solicitation seeks to fill gaps in the existing program through the development of enabling technologies that will remove barriers and create new paradigms in vehicle design.
The Funding Opportunity Announcement released today focuses on eight approaches to improving vehicle efficiency:
- Advanced fuels and lubricants: Improve today's vehicle fuels and lubricants to enable optimal performance of advanced combustion engines.
- Light weighting materials: Accelerate commercial availability of lighter weight vehicles using advanced materials like magnesium and carbon fiber to dramatically reduce vehicle weight.
- Multi-material light weight material prototype: Design, build, and test a light-weight vehicle that is 50 percent lighter than a baseline light-duty vehicle.
- Advanced cells and design technology for electric drive batteries: Develop high energy or high power electric vehicles that significantly exceed existing state-of-the-art technologies in terms of performance and/or cost.
- Advanced power electronics and electric motor technology: Develop the next generation of power inverters and electric motors to meet demanding performance targets while achieving significant reductions in cost.
- Thermoelectric and enabling engine technology: Improve the efficiency of thermoelectric devices to convert engine waste heat to electricity. Develop early-stage enabling engine technologies to improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions.
- Fefficiency: Develop and demonstrate fuel efficient tire and driver feedback technologies that will positively affect efficiency of the fleet of passenger cars and commercial vehicles.
- Advanced vehicle testing and evaluation: Conduct laboratory and field evaluations of advanced technology vehicles and related infrastructure, while developing new or modified test procedures.
Applications for the solicitation are due February 28, 2011. Applications must be submitted through Grants.gov to be considered for awards. The Department of Energy expects to announce the selections by summer 2011.
More information is available at the link below.