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11/23/2011 12:47 PM     print story email story      

Clean Energy Roundup: 11/23/11

  • 2012 Annual Fuel Economy Guide Released
  • $7M to Cut Soft Costs of Solar Systems
  • Innovative Energy Storage Technologies Enabling More Renewable Energy
  • Top U.S. Green Power Programs Honored
  • DOE, EPA Release the 2012 Annual Fuel Economy Guide

    The Dept of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have released the 2012 Fuel Economy Guide, which guides people toward choosing efficient vehicles.

    The 2012 electric Mitsubishi i-MiEV (see photo) topped the list at 112 miles per gallon (converting gas into electric costs to "fuel up"). The Nissan Leaf electric, Azure Dynamics Transit Connect Electric Van, plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt, and the Toyota Prius hybrid, rounded out the top five spots. Mitsubishi Electric Miev

    The online rankings also include vehicles that get the worst gas mileage and estimates of annual fuel costs. The online version of the guide allows people to enter  local gasoline prices and typical driving habits to receive personalized fuel cost estimates. See the DOE press release, the complete guide, and 2012 fuel economy leaders.

    DOE's $7 Million to Help Trim 'Soft' Costs of Solar Energy Systems

    DOE announced $7 million in grants to reduce non-hardware costs of residential and commercial solar energy installations as part of its Sunshot Initiative.

    The funds will support development of tools and approaches that reduce "soft" costs  related to labor, installation, permitting, interconnection, inspection, customer acquisition, financing and contracting.

    Soft expenses can amount to as much as half the cost of a residential system.

    The DOE SunShot Initiative is a collaborative national effort to reduce the cost of solar energy 75% by the end of the decade. A primary objective of the SunShot Incubator Program is to launch new start-up businesses and new business units within existing commercial entities.

    Concept paper applications for soft-cost funding are due January 16, 2012. See the DOE press release, the funding opportunity announcement, an Energy Blog post, and the SunShot Initiative website.

    Innovative Energy Storage Technologies Enabling More Renewable Energy

    Thanks to breakthroughs in energy storage systems, including the first grid-tied solar and storage facility, the potential of renewable energy is getting closer to reality.

    By combining energy storage systems with smart grid technology, utilities are able to automatically "smooth" the output of energy. This allows intermittent energy sources to be available even when the sun isn't shining or the wind isn't blowing.

    Across the US, the Recovery Act is funding 32 demonstration projects, including large-scale energy storage, smart meters, distribution and transmission system monitoring devices, and a range of other smart technologies, to deploy integrated smart grid systems on a broader scale.

    Three of these projects have been recognized for their progress in developing and implementing energy storage systems.

    Public Service Company of New Mexico - The PNM Prosperity Energy Storage Project is the nation's first combined solar generation and storage facility to be fully integrated into a utility's power grid.  It came online in September and is now producing electricity and storing 500 kilowatts of power. The project received $2.3 million from DOE, which was matched by $3.8 million from PNM.

    Aquion Energy - In October, Aquion won the 2011 World Technology Award in Energy for its potentially game-changing energy storage system.  By using readily available materials - sodium and water - as the base of its batteries, the company has developed practical energy storage systems that are both inexpensive and low-maintenance. 

    The $10.4 million project, which includes $5.2 million in DOE funding, will advance the technology from bench-scale to a pilot.  The success demonstrated thus far by the technology has spurred additional private investments of over $30 million.

    SustainX - A finalist for a 2011 World Technology Award, SustainX has developed a system to store and release energy as compressed air without losing heat.  The technology significantly improves efficiency and reduces the cost of compressed air energy storage. 

    SustainX's is developing a 1 MW system, which will be demonstrated through its utility partners. The project is supported by a $10.8 million Recovery Act grant ($5.4 million from DOE). Since the award was announced in 2010, the company has received 8 patents for its technology, been named to the 2010 Global Cleantech 100 list (out of over 3,000 nominees worldwide), and was selected as a GE Ecomagination Challenge winner.

    To learn more about the Energy Department's other national efforts to modernize the electric grid, visit the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability.

    Top U.S. Green Power Programs in DOE Spotlight

    DOE recognized four organizations on November 16 for expanding the market for renewable energy during the 11th annual Green Power Leadership Awards.

    Their "green power" programs provide customers with opportunities to purchase clean energy from environmentally preferred sources, such as wind and solar energy.

    Winners include:

    -  San Francisco-based 3Degrees and Virginia's Washington Gas Energy Services, which were recognized as the Non-Utility Green Power Suppliers of the Year;

    - Detroit Edison for Utility Green Power Program of the Year for developing its voluntary green power program;

    - The Clean Energy Collective, in Colorado, for Innovative Green Power Program of the Year.

    Organizations are evaluated on total annual renewable energy sales, number of customers served, market impact, resources and technologies used, and overall value provided to customer participants.

    According to the DOE's National Renewable Energy Lab, about 860 utilities offer green power programs, and annual sales from utility green power programs have more than doubled since 2005.

    Annual green power market sales increased to more than 35 million megawatt-hours in 2010, and more than 1.8 million customers purchased green power in 2010 through a green power program, competitive marketer program, or renewable energy certificates marketer.

    See the DOE press release and the 2011 Green Power Leadership Awards on the Green Power Network, part of DOE's Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy website.


    EERE Network News is a weekly publication of the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).

    Reader Comments (1)


    Date Posted:
    12/08/11 09:19 PM

    Energy storage devices are not targeted to provide, or, compete with, baseload.

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