Weekly Clean Energy Roundup:January 14, 2004

*News and Events

U.S. and Japan to Cooperate on Hydrogen, Fuel Cell Research
Honda Reveals 2005 Hybrid Accord Plans at Detroit Auto Show
Jeep Displays “Treo” Fuel-Cell Vehicle at Detroit Auto Show
DOE, China to Bring Clean Energy to the 2008 Olympic Games
New Solar Power Systems in California, Nevada Break Records
U.K. Approves Leases for 15 Offshore Wind Power Projects

*Energy Connections

Government Study Finds All Routes to Gasoline Savings Costly

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NEWS AND EVENTS
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U.S. and Japan to Cooperate on Hydrogen, Fuel Cell Research

Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham signed an agreement on January 9th with Goji Sakamoto — Japan’s senior vice minister of economy, trade and industry — for the two countries to work together on the development of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. The United States and Japan intend to bring together appropriate officials and technical experts to participate in workshops and seminars. The countries will also exchange experts and share information on current policies, technological programs, and developments in fuel cells and hydrogen production, storage, and transport technologies. The United States and Japan are both members of the International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy, established in November 2003. See the January 9th press release from DOE at: [sorry this link is no longer available]

Honda Reveals 2005 Hybrid Accord Plans at Detroit Auto Show

Honda Motor Company, Ltd., announced last week that it will introduce a hybrid-electric version of its mid-size Accord later this year, as a 2005 model. The Accord Hybrid will combine a V6 engine with Honda’s Integrated Motor Assist technology, making it the third hybrid electric vehicle offered by Honda. It will also be the first production vehicle to employ Honda’s Variable Cylinder Management technology, in which three of the engine’s six cylinders can be deactivated when they are not needed. According to Honda, the combined technologies will allow the Accord Hybrid to achieve a fuel economy “equivalent to a four-cylinder Civic.” Today’s Civics achieve gas mileages in the mid-30s (in miles per gallon); the six-cylinder Accords achieve mileages in the mid-20s. Honda made the announcement at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), now underway in Detroit.

The concept behind Honda’s Variable Cylinder Management technology was first introduced in 2001 by General Motors Corporation, which calls it “Displacement on Demand.” But the first company to offer the technology in a U.S. production vehicle will be the Chrysler Group, which will offer its “Multi-Displacement System” on the 2005 Chrysler
300C and Dodge Magnum RT starting this spring. The system will allow the vehicles to switch between eight- and four-cylinder modes of operation, cutting fuel consumption by about 10 percent on average. See the January 5th press release: [sorry this link is no longer available]

Honda accompanied its Accord Hybrid announcement with news that it has developed its own fuel cell stack, which the company will incorporate into its FCX fuel-cell vehicle next year. According to Honda, the new fuel cell stack is “a remarkably compact unit that delivers higher performance with increased range and fuel efficiency” and is designed
to operate at temperatures as low as minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit. Honda claims it is the world’s first fuel cell stack to feature a stamped metal separator structure combined with newly developed electrolyte membranes. See the January 5th press release: [sorry this link is no longer available]


Jeep Displays “Treo” Fuel-Cell Vehicle at Detroit Auto Show

Jeep is providing a look at its fuel-cell-powered future with the U.S. premiere of its “Treo” concept vehicle at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. The Treo, which the company describes as an “urban-active Jeep,” uses dual electric motors to power the four wheels. And like General Motor’s “Hywire” concept, the Treo uses drive-by-wire controls, which allow the steering wheel, pedals, and instrument panel to be shifted from side to side for either right- or left-side driving. See the “2004 Auto Show” link on the Jeep Web site at: http://www.jeep.com/jeep_life/index.html?context=homepage&type=promo

Although the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) has been a showcase of future energy-saving cars in recent years, this year’s show seems to be placing greater emphasis on high-performance “super cars.” But despite their gas-guzzling engines, super cars often test out new energy-saving technologies. The V12 Chrysler ME Four-Twelve, for instance, features an all-aluminum engine mounted in a carbon-fiber and aluminum-honeycomb body, with carbon-fiber exterior body panels. Likewise, the V6 Acura HSC features carbon-fiber body panels
over an all-aluminum body. And the V8 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren goes a step further, with a body constructed entirely out of carbon fiber. See the January 4th press releases from Chrysler and Acura, and the January 5th Mercedes-Benz press release, on the NAIAS Web site at:
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Automakers are also demonstrating that a variety of approaches can achieve high fuel efficiencies. The Dodge Sling Shot, a concept vehicle, uses a powerful 3-cylinder engine and a lightweight body to create a sports car that achieves 45 miles per gallon. Mercedes-Benz, meanwhile, is exhibiting its E-Class sedan with an electronic-
injection diesel engine that can achieve 30 miles per gallon of diesel fuel on the highway while meeting most states’ emission standards. See the January 4th press release from Dodge and the January 5th press release from Mercedes-Benz on the NAIAS Web site at: [sorry this link is no longer available]>.
< P>But will new “clean diesels” beat out hybrid technologies in the race for cleaner vehicles? A new study by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) says no. According to the UCS, gasoline engines can achieve fuel efficiency at a lower cost than advanced diesel engines. See the UCS press release, which links to the full report, at: [sorry this link is no longer available]


DOE, China to Bring Clean Energy to the 2008 Olympic Games

Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham joined China’s Science and Technology Minister Xu and Beijing’s Vice Mayor Fan on January 12th to sign the Green Olympic Protocol for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. DOE and China signed a Statement of Intent on Green Olympics cooperation in September 2002, and since then the two countries have established 11 teams to move forward on the agreement. Two joint working group meetings were successfully held in Beijing in 2002 and 2003, leading to new proposals for cooperation. The new protocol transforms the Statement of Intent into a legally binding international agreement.

Secretary Abraham also attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the first energy-efficient building demonstration project in Beijing. The project will lead to more widespread use of clean energy technologies in Beijing — particularly for the 2008 Olympic Games — and throughout China. See the January 12th press release from DOE at:
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New Solar Power Systems in California, Nevada Break Records

December was a month of record-breaking solar power announcements, as a vitamin manufacturer installed the largest photovoltaic system in Nevada and plans proceeded in California for the largest solar power system yet installed at a community college. In Nevada, Las Vegas Solar Electric began construction in December of a 214.5-kilowatt photovoltaic system on the roof of YourVitamins, Inc., a vitamin manufacturing company in Henderson, about 15 miles southeast of Las Vegas. The solar power installation will be the largest in the state when construction is finished in mid-January. In California, construction is underway on a one-megawatt solar power system at Cerro
Coso College, a community college in Ridgecrest, about 75 miles east of Bakerfield in the Mojave Desert. WorldWater Corporation is supplying the photovoltaic system, which should be completed in June. See the December 23rd press release from WorldWater Corporation and the announcement from Las Vegas Solar Electric at: [sorry this link is no longer available]

A number of other large solar power installations have been built or announced in recent months. Provision Technologies, Inc. is currently planning to install the largest photovoltaic system on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, a 25-kilowatt system. Solera Energy installed an 88-kilowatt solar power system at a public agency in Sewell, New
Jersey, in November. The system uses solar modules from Sharp Electronics Corporation. In late September, a 114-kilowatt solar power system was installed at Kettle Foods headquarters in Salem, Oregon. And on Edwards Air Force Base in southern California, SunPower Corporation installed a 5-kilowatt system at the NASA Dryden Flight
Research Center. Though small, the system is the first to incorporate SunPower’s A-300 solar cells, which are able to convert 20 percent of the sun’s radiation into electricity. See the press releases from Provision Technologies, Sharp Electronics, the Oregon Solar Energy Industries Association, and SunPower at:
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Despite a growing number of large solar power installations, the news is not all good for the U.S. solar power industry. AstroPower, Inc. announced on January 7th that it was laying off 10 percent of its workforce, a total of 45 employees. AstroPower has been facing difficulties since July 2003, when it was delisted from Nasdaq. The company laid off 10 percent of its work force in August 2003. See the AstroPower announcement at:
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U.K. Approves Leases for 15 Offshore Wind Power Projects

The United Kingdom’s Crown Estate announced in late December that it had accepted bids for 15 wind energy projects off the U.K. coast. The Crown Estate owns the seabed surrounding the United Kingdom and is offering to lease the offshore property to the wind energy developers for 40 to 50 years. The 15 projects still need to pass environmental assessments and obtain approval and financing for their projects, but if all are built, their peak generating capacity could total 7,200 megawatts, equal to 7 percent of Britain’s electricity load. The developers have until January 20th to accept the lease offers. See the announcements from the Crown Estate and the British Wind Energy Association at: [sorry this link is no longer available]
and [sorry this link is no longer available]

Maps of the proposed wind facility sites are available online by selecting “New Sites for Offshore Windfarms Announced” on the Crown Estate home page: [sorry this link is no longer available]

The news is sure to be a discussion topic at “Global WINDPOWER 2004,” a wind energy conference and exhibition to be held i
n Chicago from March 28th to the 31st. The American Wind Energy Association is presenting the event, which is co-sponsored by DOE. [sorry this link is no longer available]


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ENERGY CONNECTIONS
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Government Study Finds All Routes to Gasoline Savings Costly

A study released in late December by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) concludes that all means of reducing gasoline consumption in the United States will be costly to consumers. The CBO study examined gasoline taxes and fuel economy standards as two routes to reducing the nation’s gasoline use by 10 percent. The study found that fuel efficiency standards would cost $3.6 billion per year, over and above the value of fuel savings, equal to about $228 on each new vehicle sold. A fuel economy credit-trading scheme among automakers could cut those costs by about 16 percent, to $3 billion per year, or $184 per vehicle. To achieve the same reduction using gasoline taxes, the
CBO study estimates that a 46-cent-per-gallon tax would be needed, which would impose a societal cost of about $2.9 billion per year. See the CBO study, an 865-kilobyte PDF file, at:

One policy driver for reducing U.S. gasoline consumption is the long-term outlook for petroleum production. In 2000, DOE’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimated that the world’s peak petroleum production would occur between 2030 and 2075. If oil production begins to decline while demand continues to grow, fuel prices would be expected to escalate. See the summary of the EIA analysis at:
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Those EIA estimates may need updating as of January 9th, when the Royal Dutch/Shell Group of Companies reduced the estimate of its proven reserves of oil and natural gas by 20 percent. Shell cut 2.7 billion barrels of crude oil and the natural gas equivalent to 1.2 billion barrels of oil from its estimate of proven reserves. Oil companies generally discount any long-term projections based on their proven reserves, since each year they attempt to discover new reserves at least equal to that year’s consumption of oil, which in oil company terms would be a “reserve replacement ratio” of 100 percent. For 2003, however, Shell estimates that its reserve replacement ratio will end up between 70 and 90 percent. Shell intends to disclose the exact figure on February 5th. See the January 9th press release on the Shell Web site at:
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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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