Weekly Clean Energy Roundup:July 23, 2003

*News and Events

DOE Awards $75 Million for Advanced Hydrogen Fuel Cells

DOE Promotes Smart Energy Use at Atlanta Forum
Missouri-Rolla Leads as American Solar Challenge Nears End
DOE to Fund Half of New York Superconductor Cable Project
Court Ruling Adds Uncertainty to California Ethanol Market
Ford Report: Company to Fall Short of SUV Fuel Economy Goal

*Energy Connections

2003 Shaping Up as Third-Warmest Year on Record


DOE Awards $75 Million for Advanced Hydrogen Fuel Cells

DOE announced on July 17th that it will award a total of $75 million to 13 firms and educational institutions for research in advanced fuel cells for vehicles and buildings. The projects will tackle such technical challenges as fuel reformers (to convert common fuels into hydrogen), more durable fuel cell components that can withstand higher temperatures, methods to manage heat and moisture within fuel cells, recycling of expensive platinum catalysts, and replacement of platinum catalysts with less-expensive metals. DOE also recently awarded $21 million to 11 firms and universities for hydrogen storage, production, and sensor technologies. See the July 17th press release: [sorry this link is no longer available]

All together, DOE has awarded $96 million this year in support of the President’s FreedomCAR and Hydrogen Fuel Initiatives, and several additional solicitations are in progress. See DOE’s Hydrogen, Fuel Cells, and Infrastructure Technologies Program Web site: [sorry this link is no longer available]

DOE Promotes Smart Energy Use at Atlanta Forum

U.S. Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham traveled to Atlanta on July 18th for DOE’s first regional natural gas forum, held at Atlanta’s Southface Energy Institute. The forum brought together representatives from consumer groups, industry and government for an open discussion on short-term solutions to the natural gas problem.

“While we work to increase our production and storage capacity for natural gas, we must also focus on using our natural gas resources wisely,” Secretary Abraham said. “Individuals, business and government can play an important role in reducing energy use.”

The Atlanta meeting was the first of several regional forums to be held across the country as part of DOE’s Smart Energy Campaign, announced on July 9th. The campaign features the Energysavers.gov Web site, which provides consumers with specific steps they can take to conserve energy. The Web site also includes public service announcements for downloading and use by radio stations throughout the country. See the Web site at: [sorry this link is no longer available]
As part of the campaign, Secretary Abraham sent a letter on Tuesday to state public utility commissioners, encouraging them to consider such options as new energy efficiency programs, efforts to reduce electrical demand, and the use of more efficient power sources. See the July 18th and 22nd press releases on the DOE Web site:
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Missouri-Rolla Leads as American Solar Challenge Nears End

The University of Missouri-Rolla has established a commanding lead in the American Solar Challenge, the 2,300-mile solar car race from Chicago to Los Angeles. Missouri-Rolla took the lead on the fourth day and has held it since, averaging nearly 44 miles per hour overall — often limited only by the local speed limit. The University of Minnesota is in second place, nearly five hours behind Missouri-Rolla, while the University of Waterloo is in third place. The top seven race leaders arrived in Barstow, California, on Monday, completing the third stage of the race a day early. The final stage, from Barstow to Claremont, California, takes place today. See the American Solar Challenge press releases and race standings:
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DOE’s Richard King has been posting daily accounts of the race on the Web site, chronicling the trials and tribulations of the teams as they face blown tires, burned-out motors, electrical shorts, flaming solar arrays, and even wind-tossed components, thanks to tractor-trailer rigs passing at high speeds. The race has mostly been blessed with sunny skies, although a heavy rainstorm on Sunday proved costly for the University of Arizona. See King’s “Reports from the Road” and the daily photos on the American Solar Challenge Web site at: [sorry this link is no longer available]
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Meanwhile, the tenth-anniversary run of the Dell-Winston Solar Challenge is also nearing its end, with the team from Houston, Mississippi, in the lead with the most miles logged and the fastest average speed (29 miles per hour). In the last ten years, the race organizers have worked with about 8,500 high-school students from more than 900 schools in 22 countries. This year’s race is being documented with daily photos and high-quality online videos. See the Dell-Winston Solar Challenge Web site: [sorry this link is no longer available]

The 1,500-mile Dell-Winston Solar Challenge will draw to a close this afternoon in Cocoa, Florida, at the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC). See the FSEC press release:
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DOE to Fund Half of New York Superconductor Cable Project

< FONT face="Arial, Helvetica" size=2>DOE will contribute $13 million toward a $26 million project to install a high-temperature superconductor (HTS) cable in Albany, New York, a lead company in the project announced last week. As announced in November 2002, SuperPower, Inc. will lead a project to install a 350-meter length of high-temperature superconductor (HTS) cable connecting two electric substations in Albany, New York, by 2005. As part of DOE’s Superconductivity Partnership Initiative, the project will demonstrate the feasibility of using HTS cables in an electric utility grid. SuperPower is a subsidiary of Intermagnetics General Corporation, which made the announcement. See the July 14th announcement by selecting “Press Releases” from the pull-down menu under “News & Events” on the Intermagnetics Web site at: [sorry this link is no longer available]

Court Ruling Adds Uncertainty to California Ethanol Market

A federal court ruling last week will force the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reconsider whether California fuel blends must include an oxygenate such as ethanol. Concerns about groundwater pollution led California to phase out its use of MTBE, another oxygenate, by the end of this year, leaving ethanol as the only
practical alternative. Oxygenates are added to gasoline blends as a means of reducing ozone emissions. California sought a waiver from the oxygenate requirement, but EPA denied that waiver in June 2001, effectively requiring the state to switch to ethanol as an additive. The new ruling finds that EPA “abused its discretion in refusing to consider and weigh the effect of the proposed waiver on particulate matter pollution along with its effect on ozone pollution” and requires EPA to reconsider the waiver. See the July 17th ruling, “Davis v. EPA,” by clicking on “Opinions” on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Web site: http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov

The ruling creates uncertainty for the California fuel market, which is currently in transition between gasoline blends containing MTBE and blends made with ethanol. California Governor Gray Davis responded positively to the news, but also maintained that California is not anti-ethanol. “We want our refiners to have maximum flexibility in what they put into gasoline, as long as they produce the cleanest burning gas in the world,” said Governor Davis. See the July 17th announcement by selecting “Press Releases” on the Governor’s Web site at: [sorry this link is no longer available]

For its part, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) does not see the ruling as a setback for ethanol fuel, noting that the court affirmed most of the technical and procedural aspects of the original EPA decision, questioning only the potential impact of ethanol on particulate emissions. See the NCGA press release at: http://www.ncga.com/news/notd/2003/july/071803.htm

Ford Report: Company to Fall Short of SUV Fuel Economy Goal

A report released by Ford Motor Company on July 18th says that the company will not achieve its goal to improve the fuel economy of its fleet of sport utility vehicles (SUVs) by 25 percent by 2005. The goal received considerable attention when Ford announced it in July 2000. See the original Ford announcement at: [sorry this link is no longer available]
According to the new report, Ford’s SUV fleet for the 2003 Model Year will achieve an average fuel economy only 5.2 percent better than its 2000 Model Year. That marks a decrease in fuel economy relative to Ford’s 2002 Model Year, which had achieved an 8.4 percent improvement. Ford notes that some of the key technologies slated to help reach the goal were delayed or eliminated “in large part because of cost-based decisions,” notably an integrated starter-generator for the 2003 Explorer that would have automatically turned off the engine while stopped. On the positive side, Ford will introduce the Escape Hybrid next year, and will introduce fuel-saving variable cam timing and
six-speed transmissions by 2005. See the report by selecting “Corporate Citizenship Report” on the Ford home page at: [sorry this link is no longer available]

To find the section of the report on SUV fuel economy goals, select “Our Actions,” then “Our SUV Fuel Economy Commitment.”


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ENERGY CONNECTIONS
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2003 Shaping Up as Third-Warmest Year on Record

With 2003 half over, the year is currently on track to be the third-warmest on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). For January through June, the global average surface temperature was 1.0 degree Fahrenheit (0.55 degrees Celsius) above the long-term mean. Since record keeping began in 1880, only the first six months of 2002 and 1998 were warmer. On a global scale, June 2003 is also the third-warmest June on record. See the analysis from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) at:
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Most of the United States was spared the hot temperatures in June. In fact, the eastern two-thirds of the nation was cooler than average in June, and the nation as a whole experienced its sixth coolest and seventh wettest June on record. The West proved the exception, with hotter-than-normal temperatures and continuing drought. See the
NOAA press release and the NCDC Web site at:
http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories/s1197.htm
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The below-normal temperatures for most of the United States have reduced the demand for electricity, allowing large injections of natural gas into underground storage and greatly increasing the prospects for sufficient U.S. natural gas supplies this winter. According to DOE’s Energy Information Administration (EIA), the amount
of natur
al gas in storage remains 14 percent below the 5-year average for this time of year, but with current rates of injection into storage, the situation continues to improve. See the “Storage” section of the Natural Gas Weekly Update on the EIA Web site at: [sorry this link is no longer available]
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Kevin Eber is the Editor of EREE Network News, a weekly publication of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).

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